LADY GAGA: POSTMODERN AGENT A CASE STUDY

LADY GAGA:
POSTMODERN
AGENT
A CASE STUDY
LEARNING OUTCOMES
• To discuss Lady Gaga as a
postmodern ‘agent’ of
feminist pastiche
• To explore and challenge
the notion of fixed gender
categories
• To recap the theories of
Laura Mulvey and Janice
Winship
THE FACTS
•
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta,
known by her stage name Lady Gaga, is an
American singer, songwriter, record
producer, dancer, activist,
businesswoman, fashion designer, actress
and philanthropist.
•
•
Born: March 28, 1986, New York City
Full name: Stefani Joanne Angelina
Germanotta
•
Height: 1.55 m
•
Albums include The Fame and Born This
Way
Hits include Paparazzi, Poker Face , Bad
Romance and Telephone
•
LADY GAGA - TELEPHONE
• https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVBsypH
zF3U
• To what extent are gender stereotypes
perpetrated?
• Do you recognise anything familiar from the
video from other artists or films?
Fashion –Madonna, Britney, Christina
• Pussy Wagon from ‘Kill Bill’ by Quentin
Tarantino
• Beyonce’s jacket looked like on Michael
Jackson wore in the 80’s
• Holding hands at the end from ‘Thelma and
Louise’
THE FIFTH ELEMENT
(1997, directed by Luc Besson)
Gaga borrows her idea from Milla Jovovich’s character Leeloo
SELF PARODY
• It begins where her
previous video
‘Paparazzi’ finished
• You can also hear
another song of hers
‘Paper Gangsta’ through
the earphones
IS THE VIDEO ALSO A COMMERCIAL?
• Gaga references Virgin
Mobile, Beats by Dre
and the dating website
www.plentyoffish.com
in the video
BREAD ADVERT?
• Gaga and Akerlund challenge the gender stereotype of the
"perfect housewife" portrayed heavily in 1950s pop culture,
using Wonder Bread and Miracle Whip as their artistic devices
THEORY RECAP 1
• Laura Mulvey’s male
gaze theory (1975)
• Argument: the camera
constructs an
apparently ‘objective’
view of events through
a male perspective
• The male is active
(looking) and the
female passive (an
object to be looked at)
THEORY RECAP 2
• Janice Winship (1987)
argues that “the gaze
between cover model
and women readers
marks the complicity
between women seeing
themselves in the image
which the masculine
culture has defined”
ALTHUSSER RECAP
• This resonates with the
Marxist idea developed
by Althusser’s (1977)
notion of
‘interpellation’ – the
socal/ideological
practice of
misrecognising yourself
WINSHIP
• Winship’s notion of
complicity is about us
being prepared, for the
reward of gratification,
to recognise the ideal
version of ourselves
despite the anxiety this
may cause
WINSHIP/MARX
• For feminists, the male
culture reinforces its
power by defining
women in this way and
encouraging the anxiety
• The Marxist term for
this is ‘false
consciousness’
WHY DO WOMEN PUT UP WITH THIS?
THEY’RE NOT STUPID!
• Through a range of
cultural reinforcements
in the media, women
are distracted from in
the inequality in our
society
JUDITH BUTLER
• She sets up gender as
entirely cultural and as
an act of performance,
suggesting ‘gender
trouble’ – the
deliberate subversion of
gendered behaviour as
a political response
BIG FAT QUOTE!
That the gendered body is performative suggests
that it has no ontological status apart from the
various acts which constitute its reality
(Butler, 1990)
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
• It is only our daily collective performances of
gender that make it what it is
• It does not exist outside of these
performances so we are not performing
anything that existed before (this is what
ontology means)
• For example, the act of wearing make up
defines gender and not the gender of the
person wearing it
THAT’S A BIT COMPLICATED
• Yes, it is, because when
these performances are
subverted it doesn’t
simply mean that you
are creating alternative
versions of ‘being
male/female’
• Sometimes there is
parody and pastiche –
think Little Britain
and…. Lady Gaga
LADY GAGA –
POSTMODERN AGENT
- THEORY LINKS: Butler
- HOW? Gaga is
male/female through what
she does and not what she
is
- EXAMPLES: Performing in a
plastic bubble dress,
performing covered in
blood, wearing a dress of
raw meat, performing in a
dress made of Kermit the
Frog dolls, wearing 16 inch
heels to make herself
taller,
• According to Bacon (2010),
postmodern feminism
challenges the fixed notion
of fixed gender categories
• These carry power in the
media, so undermining
them through subversion is
an act of resistance to this
power.
• It can be argued that Lady
Gaga does this all the time
CLOTHES
• They exaggerate normal
ideas of fashion and of
sexual power and
subordination
• Maybe she critiques the
history of gender
oppression through/by
her ‘extreme’ fashion
• In other words, she
deliberately chooses to
not dress how a woman is
supposed to
LADY GAGA – BAD ROMANCE
• https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrO4YZe
yl0I
VIDEOS
• She situates herself on
the boundary of various
oppositions –
human/non-human,
sexy/distorted
• She also exaggerates
female objectification in a
ironic manner
• This puts into question
whether or not all ‘male
gaze’ looking is distortion
GAGA
IS IT ENTIRELY POSSIBLE THAT SHE’S
JUST ‘SEXY’?
• Is the idea that images
in her videos
simultaneously
reinforce powerful and
oppressive ideas about
what women’s bodies
are ‘supposed’ to look
like?
• Do they draw attention
to such ‘embodiments’
of the beauty standard?
BACON SPEAKS FOR GAGA!
• Because it don’t allow my gender restrictions to represent how
I am perceived. I don’t have to be the next ‘Britney’ or
‘Christina’. Am I unwillingly objectified? Or am I authorising
my own power? I am both endangered and dangerous. The
category of gender is a means of oppression (Gaga is forced to
be sex slave) The category of gender is a source of liberation
(Gaga sets her captor on fire with an electrified bra) Are you
buying into the idea that women’s bodies are readily available
commodities? Or are you in on the joke?
Bacon, 2010
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