Asta Charles

Asta Charles
Los Angeles, California, USA
December 12
Myth Maker
A foul-mouthed commentator on life, society, politics, pop culture, and economics. I spend a lot of time in bars. I wrote a manuscript about the perils of online dating and its ultimate cost to society. It's not published. Meh.


Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 30, 2009 2:22AM

Why it's okay for your daughters to admire Lady Gaga

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When I first heard of this alleged "Lady", an adjective used to describe "Gaga", I assumed this songstress was a transvestite that had somehow made in the big time. I assumed this because of the overtly femme name as well as a very strong and robust, albeit quality, vocal tone.

I don't pay much attention to pop culture. I would normally never condone the emulation, mental absorption, or other learning about any celebrity whatsoever. For the most part they are self-absorbed, already rich, cancer that is killing society. Nevertheless, to keep all of this nonsense in check, I read Perez Hilton and the Superficial every day. I read these celebretard e-zines because, well, they're crass and they provide me with a slight bit of information. I read them for the jokes, I don't really care which proper names are used in each joke, just that the joke is good. And they always are. Whether it's a cock drawn on the face of some entitled financial pariah, or a blog that has such a fabulous sense of humor that it doesn't mind posting nothing but D-list models in bikinis over and over again.

So this is why I had never heard of the entity and person that is Lady Gaga. I had only heard of vague mentions of her in between jokes about other celebrities. Then, Perez Hilton posted the completely cinematically enhanced "Paparazzi" video.

I watched it, slightly irritated by how serious it was. I scoffed, "this is her third single, who the hell does she think she is, pulling this November Rain shit, ugh."

Then something about her intrigued me and I hit the Wikipedia to learn more. It seemed that there must be more than met my eye, I could smell...hmm...maybe...smarts. God dammit. I was impressed by what I learned.

Let's hit the surface level information first: Lady Gaga may be a semi-sex symbol, she has to be a little bit, in order to sell records (unfortunately not everyone waits 40 years to become Susan Boyle). However, there are some imperfections about her that are incredibly charming. She looks like  a real girl that is playing dress up. Not a girl who was never real at all. While most female sex symbols' noses are marble sized ski jumps, hers is distinctly shaped and clearly a genetic reference to her Italian heritage. I'll be very upset if she ever changes this. Somehow I doubt she will.

And what of her beginnings? Yes, she did drugs. Of course you don't want your daughter thinking that this is the way to go about success, however, drugs are one of those things that when done at the appropriate time in one's life can either add character or destroy you. For Lady Gaga, it added character. She was performing at burlesque shows and singing in New York. However, prior to this, she was attending Juilliard and Tisch. Why? Because she's a god damned genius. We all know that Juilliard does not accept many students and it is extremely expensive to go there. However, Tisch accepts roughly twenty students per year. Lady Gaga was accepted at age 17. She studied not only music but art, religion, and socio-political order. She was born to be an activist through her medium. She was discovered by LA Reid whilst singing down the hall from his office, the reason is unknown. She was signed but then dropped three months later. She tried and tried again.

But alas, she wasn't signed for some time. She was writing songs for the likes of Akon, Britney Spears (who lacks the similar talent and work ethic that I am describing here), and Fergie (also, lacking the similar talent). She was actually working.

Approximately a year later, thanks to Perez Hilton, she jumped on a fucking NASA made rocket to stardom.  

My fiance and I were having drinks with a friend of ours, a fellow successful musician, and Lady Gaga came up. He dismissed her, "she's a whack job."

"NO!" I was immediately defensive of my newfound hero, but then forced to describe why I felt so defensive of her. "She's great! She's a damned genius!"

As is my motto of life, I cannot offer an opinion without subsequently describing why I hold such an opinion.

"Do you understand what she's doing? With her clothing? With her style? She actually writes her own songs!"

He clearly didn't understand, and at that moment, in my slight buzz, I absolutely knew what it was.

"She's fucking with you! She's being a person, a person with actual knowledge and talent, not a singing-head and industry whore. She dresses like she does to make you ask that question 'what the fuck'?" She wore lace/gauze around her face at the MTV Video Music Awards this year because she wanted to symbolize that her face isn't important. She wore a huge distracting feather helmet (I guess?) because, again, she doesn't want her face to be the thing that is important. She is a muse, she is a message, and she has never let a man dumb her down.

The dumbing down and usage of women is clearly prevalent in Hollywood. Women that are a brand, that are a product, that sing, model, act, and do nothing to distribute or communicate their thoughts are everywhere. They are a dime a dozen. Lady Gaga is an experiment in mass psychology. She's testing all of us and making sure that people can appreciate she is an artist and not just a singing-headed woman that is hot. If we can all be convinced that she is as smart as she is, then we haven't been distracted by her body. We have been convinced by her creative strategy and her mission - the things she developed with her mind.

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You know, I agree. Gaga is a genius and very talented. It's so rare, I think we're all shocked by it.
She is brilliant in every way I can think of. Love her.
Unlike the talentless Madonna, who through sheer will power, made 15 minutes last 25 years, Lady Gaga can actually sing.

Is she Streisand or Aretha? Hell no. She's not even Mariah Carey, but girlfriend has a serviceable pop voice and she can sell a song.

Plus, she's unapologetically pro-gay.
My best friend has been telling me what a genius she is for some time now, and I'm still resisting. I'm begrudgingly staring to like her, though. Not "Poker Face" or "Just Dance", those are really annoying songs.

When I saw her sing "Paparazzi" at the MTV awards I was blown away. You just don't see pop princesses staggering around the stage covered in blood. They writhe around in next to nothing. Her performance was damn cool. (And that red lace dress she wore to accept her award was awesome!) I didn't expect her to be able to sing live either. I think she sounded better live than on the radio. The radio version of "Paparazzi" makes her sound like an auto-tuned little girl. Even slightly Gwen Stefani-ish (yuck). I don't think it does her justice. Her live voice was much better than I anticipated. And the look on P. Diddy's face in the audience was priceless. You could tell he was thinking "crazy white people".

I can't bring myself to call her a genius. I just don't think she's going to relevant in the next 5 years if she stays with pop music. Plus, if she's such a goddamn musical genius, why is she writing shitty pop songs laced with sexual innuendo (which is EVERY pop song)? We've already seen she can shock with the best of them and she's got a strange artistic flair that's almost morbid. I just wish she didn't squander her talents on awful pop music that no one's going to remember in a few years. I want to see her do something that really shows off her skills.
Great post the more I look into her, the more I like her.
I completely agree. She's pushing the envelope to make you think. Smart girl with the chops to back it up.
@asianshoebox: That's the thing, I don't think she'll stick with pop music. I think she'll get bored and move on. Likely to theater, writing, songs, choreographing, performing, etc. Personally, I get a kick out of songs laced with innuendo, especially when their bigger meaning is either deeply personal or applicable to us all. I think "Paparazzi" is a much better example of this than any of her other songs - which I care far less about.
Her name is thrown around my house so often with my kids and their friends, but I never really paid much attention. Of course I know her songs, which are catchy but became so overplayed in my house that I was hearing them in my sleep. After reading your post, I'm going to give her another look!
hey thanks for writing this, I admit I've been prone to eye rolling when I see her pic in the tabloids but now I think she's worth a second look (or rather, a real first look)
I too agree with you on Lady Gaga. I am sick of 'singers' who do nothing but cover tunes and songs others wrote for them. Go for the real talent - one that can sing, write and entertain with integrity.
I didn't expec this would prompt anyone to actually give her a chance, but I'm glad it is. Credit should be given where credit is due. Real talent should be recognized instead of taken for granted behind the scenes. And, pro-gay rights artists should be allowed to be as loud as they like.
Hmmm, must check her out. I didn't know who she was until she was on SNL. Fell asleep before her performance . . .
I saw her on Ellen. She was extremely polite, gracious, which is a quality that always makes me pay attention: I typically find arrogance to be indicative of the smaller mind. Sat down at a piano, no frills, and she was brilliant: a phenomenal voice and her skill at the piano was very impressive. Lady Gaga's fashions are spectacularly creative. Unfortunately I don't care for her videos or her dancing. The performances are lacking. The video work has yet to capture her talent.
I admit, as a Conservative 61 year old male, Lady Gaga is the new David Bowie and Ronnie Spector...rolled into one.
The girls (my dots) turned me on to Lady Gaga several months before I finally laid eyes on her (on American Idol, wherein I was smitten). Then I YouTubed her various incarnations, followed her Twitters, and decided I did very much like this girl.

I like strong women role models for the girls. Pink is another I find refreshingly candid. But Lady G is the epitomy of irony, which is what you need to survive as a feminist in this protoMagnon world.
note: She also just took two weeks off in order to be with her father during and following his heart surgery... which she paid for. She is a self-professed daddy's girl and puts family first. Another rarity.
Agreed. She deconstructs celebrity, embracing the absurd without stooping to irony. Besides, the first time I heard "bluffin' with my muffin" I sprayed half a cappuccino out my nose.

Now I'm waiting for something along the lines of "Bill Moyers: Gaga?"

Just imagine... "Ms. Gaga, you've stated publicly that you 'want everyone to be gay.' Explain what you mean by that."
the blood thing is really disgusting. but yeah, its true, she doesnt have that intense beauty that other pop stars have, so she has to make it up somehow.
To me, she's just a composite of Alice Cooper, Madonna, and Marilyn Manson. Teen-boppers need to blow off steam through their teen idols.
You present an interesting perspective on her - she is extremely talented, though. I definitely agree with you there.
I really think that she is an artist in all senses. Just look at her acoustic versions of her songs! I think that she has an odd, child-like sense of the world. When I was little, I would dress up in the most outrageous things and my parents and grandparents would say it was okay because I would grow out of it......... I wish I hadn't.
I agree that she's very clever. Lady Gaga wanted money and fame, took stock of her assets (good voice, good writing, toned body) and liabilities, made a great business plan, and achieved her goals. When discussing this, I usually mention her face as evidence too. Her face isn't classically popstar, so she, with a businesslike detachment, finds ways to cover or distract from it (such as not wearing pants!). I don't think she'll turn her talents towards more complicated music, unless it ever offers her better rewards than her catchy, fun, well-crafted pop songs do.

Plus, how can you not like someone who named herself after a Queen Song :-)
@claire fontaine: bingo.
I'm not anti-Gaga and do get her shtick but she is categorically *not* genius. People today really need to use that term for its proper definition. It seems like everyone who's barely a percentile above mediocrity, especially in pop culture, is somehow a "genius" and it's laughable that our standards have sunk so low in the last generation.

As for Lady Gaga herself, what she does is largely superficial, albeit harmless and provides some with entertainment and all that. That's cool. Although she may not be as abhorrent a 'role model' for young girls as, say Lindsay Lohan, the only substantial value lesson that Gaga has to offer young girls is that whole "be you who are" thing. And that's at least something, far more than what most celebrities offer. Everything else is marketing bullshit.

That said, she does have a nice voice. I'd rather listen to her than Madonna or that waste of DNA Amy Whinehouse.
"Lady Gaga is an experiment in mass psychology."

This same experiment was "performed" by Madonna, Kiss, and 9000 other over-decorated musical franchises, but thanks for proving that somebody somewhere is so totally gaga that he or she thinks Lady Gaga is a rebel.
@Jacob Freeze and uppercanuck: Madonna, Alice Cooper, et al can't realistically span generations and have the same effect for each one. This generation needs a new wacky role model, a role model with an actual strategy aside from "I'm going to look weird". Gaga's appearance consistently involves symbolism of her message - which appears to be "don't like something because of the way it looks, like something for what it means."
At 53, I'm thoroughly impressed by the sheer number and historical scope of cultural references packed into Lady Gaga's Paparazzi video. Granted, there's an accomplished director's hand at work there as well, but from Hitchcock to the Disney-fication of pop music, she's certainly done her homework, and done it quickly! And I somehow doubt she'll still be 'looking for herself' in quirky religions or 'reinventing herself' as a concerned adoptive parent at the age of 50. This is a woman you'll want sitting on your board of directors by then, if not by next Tuesday.
I just watched the rerun of her performance on SNL. Her voice is great, but her piano playing at the end was what grabbed me. Clearly, she's been classically trained and has many talents. I like that she "pushes the envelope" instead of doing completely safe, boring pop songs. Also, I like that she is using her fame to further the cause of gay civil rights. Would that more celebrities were so brave!
I've been resisting, too, but I'll have to investigate further like you did. The music isn't entirely my taste, but she seems intriguing as a person and isn't an embarrassment from what I've seen.
great, make me think post. Ga-ga-ga-ga GO Lady GaGa.
I recently went to a concert at Carnegie Hall to see a group of performers, including U-2 and Lou Reed. Very impressive group. Lady Gaga came out on stage in a bathing suit exhibiting a very nice body for this over 65 male. She sat down at the piano and blew me and everybody away with her talent and wry sense of humor. She is good
A few of you have brought up her gay rights-activism: I completely failed to hit on this in my blog. But now that I'm reflecting on it, the awesome thing is that she didn't wait for her popularity to climb before making it known that she wasn't just a champion of tolerance but she is completely pro-gay. She just went for it, balls out as I like to say.
I'm 39 years old, but she is my role model too
In case anyone is still reading this, I'd like to direct your attention to this interview I just saw:

Around minute 1:30 Gaga lives up to what expectations I had set for her. She tells parents that girls out to find ways to express themselves: listen to music, watch old movies, go to museums, read and begin to compile all of this information. Soon, all of it will come together and you'll begin to piece together who you are and how you want to express yourself.

That's a role model.
wow. amazing post. agree with you %100 i just couldnt put it into words the same way you did. brilliant.
check out my own post about lady gaga here
Camilla Parker Bowles is cooler.