I want to eat Lady Gaga.
Fork and knife like a damn Ke$ha cannibal, and I get the sneaking suspicion that Lady Gaga wants to be eaten. More so, I know we’re all hungry for it. We’re the black bile that makes the electric beats goose-step so well. We’re not just trying to have a good time anymore. We’re trying to strangle the life out of any other kind of time. We’re gonna dance until we die.
Do what you want with my body, she says. You can’t have my brain; you don’t own my thoughts…but do what you want with my body.
I’m moved. Remember that David LaChapelle picture of Gaga stark naked, covered in bloody scratches, and using histrionic tabloid headlines as pasties?
She’s a damn magnet for that filth. It’s what pumps through her veins—not blood but press. Adoration and condemnation. Blood’s not important, anyway. Attention is.
She’s written crooning songs to the paparazzi, told us countless times she’s doing it for the fame (fame!), that she lives for the applause, that she just wants money, honey, etc., etc., and she’s not lying. This seeming superficiality is actually literature. It is the not-so-subtle subtext for what makes modern culture a-go-go.
If being self-employed is the American dream, actually, being the product wets the sheets. Gaga isn’t the American dream; she’s its holy spirit.
At first glance, she might not seem a particularly appropriate social critic, but that’s because she’s something more. She’s the exclamation mark all gussied up and beautiful, and encapsulating the here and now like a polaroid with a pulse. She’s lightning in a bottle, and if it sometimes smacks superficial it’s because it is.
Hers (like all pop music) is the music for the vapid hard-ons burning up the dance floor on a Saturday night. That’s all the time, now, not just the weekends and not just the lonely hearts. It’s all the time, every day. The only way to really get her music is to listen to it alone, and understand how pervasive that shuffle really is.
It’s the music for the beautiful, dirty, rich (at leas those who’d like to be); those who can’t help themselves but to be addicted to a life of material. Those who want to live the life of the rich and famous (at least vicariously).
And if they can’t live it, and if they no longer get jazzed by just hearing about it—if they don’t even want to dream about it—they might still just like to eat it.
Grocery stores are unironically lined with tabloids that mirror poorly printed menus. The paparazzi have made us all perverts. They turn every grocery store aisle in America into an adult bookstore, a 42nd Street throwback. They’re more invasive than anything I could hope to put a child’s protective lock on, and they’re at the damn grocery store, right next to the candy bars.
They’re this razor wire net designed to prevent anyone from aspiring to rise too high. They’re sneering, jeering, constantly reminding us that, even though we’re the little people, the big people, the celebrities and entertainers and world leaders, are all enshrined in impossible messes of cellulite. They all have cancer, their Botox has exploded in their faces like little mushroom clouds of embarrassment. They cheat on each other without remorse, they’re occasionally killers, always tragedy, always comedy, and eventually one of ’em clocks a paparazzi (but good).
I love that. I love when one of these impossibly manicured celebrities takes a paparazzo by the collar and slams his face through a windshield—the bloodier the better—and I know I’m not alone in that observation. Is it because we love violence?
Is it because we like to see the armor come off these people, like to see ’em crack, and bare their fangs, and remind us that they’re all actually animals and not so dissimilar from ourselves?
(Gaga never does that I’ll have you know. That armor never comes off; even if the make-up and the costumes do. Most celebrities are Greek gods mirroring humanity in some way. Gaga’ll make you a monotheist).
There’s probably some of that in there. But more to the point, it’s probably because we all hate the paparazzi, even as we eat their product all day and night, even as it lights our water-cooler conversations like a blow torch; even still, we wanna see them get tossed around and bloodified, because we know they’re the enemy, even if they’re tentatively on our side.
It’s a loose truce, and we know they’re Judas in this passion play. They’ve betrayed humanity, but they’re totally necessary. Otherwise, gods wouldn’t be Gods. The holy ascent to celebrity status, the meltdowns, the comebacks—they wouldn’t mean nothing if it wasn’t for poor Judas, swinging from his neck from a tree with his insides all pulled out and on the floor.
All that gold never meant nothing, even Judas knew that. Neither would a quiet death for his holy martyr. It wasn’t the gold, or the sacrifice, but the show. It wasn’t a heart attack, but a crucifixion.
Judas and the paparazzi are the small martyrs to make way for the Big Martyrs, and the only girl on the block brave enough to confess her love for them is Mother Monster herself, Lady Gaga.
She’s their biggest fan. She’ll follow them until they love her.
She knows it’s a bad romance. She knows that by becoming a Koontz statue she’s sacrificing her own pulse. Becoming a Pygmalian, as the story goes, she is more spectacular for it. Like Pygmalian, she’s more than alive—in the adoring eyes of her fans, and in the hateful hearts of her enemies. She is validated, because she is recorded and consumed. In 21st century America, that’s holy capital.
If she’s on the edge, it’s not only one of glory; tipping over that precipice involves a long fall. She’s written odes to girls who just want to dance in the dark, even if she’s not one of them, but she knows they fall apart when they’re being watched. Still, she invites the gaze. One wonders if she trembles in the armor. One likes her more for it.
If she’s a product, she’s our product. A saint, our pop drunk god in the religion of capitalism. Our Lady of Gaga. We want her on our crosses.
It’s become cool to hate hour, maybe, in 2013, but that’s just part of the story. Everyone starts to sharpen their knives, lick their lips, and excitedly hum and chatter about when the crown of thorns will fall, when the martyrdom will begin.
Because then—once she’s toppled, with a shaved head and a few good hits at the paparazzi—only then can she rise again. And that’s our favorite part. Colored eggs are almost as good as colored lights.
But before then, we’ve got to nail her to a tree.
Blood tears aren’t uncalled for at this point.
Right now there is no higher perch, and therein lies the tragedy. Once the consumption ends—once we’ve eaten her all up—everything that’s bleak starts to sink in, like ink blots tarring up the page. That blackness is out there, and Lady Gaga—strapped into all the excess—sees it.
Listen to the song Dope, and tell me it isn’t sadder than Wrecking Ball. It’s not the earworm Wrecking Ball is, but it’s 179% sadder (that’s mathematically accurate). Why? Because she’s making a spectacle out of herself. She’s ripping her guts out, and telling us exactly why she needs us more than dope, and we’re eating her, anyway.
(Watch the Spike Jonez video, and it’s doubly, triply, quadruply sad—she’s not glammed up. She’s just weeping flesh; ready for the banquet).
We’re hungry for the spectacle. She’s volunteered as tribute. It’s an honor to be chosen. Gaga’s like any number of celebrity martyrs who have come before her, in that she is sacrificing herself—her privacy and personality—so that we can eat her. And God we’re hungry.
Put a tabloid in your cart and snack away. We can’t help ourselves—we have so many bubble-gum pop starlets at any one moment, and we watch with some sort of hysterical glee as they tear themselves apart for us—as they flash the cameras, and drink more than they should, and make the strangely dangerous mistake of just trying to grow up and live their lives, while also performing.
We can’t have both; we don’t want both. We only want the performance, and actually, we just want the performance to be real. Save the rest, please. There’s no room in our stomachs.
This is religion for the religious-less.
Gaga knows this, and she’s doing it all anyway, and that makes her the best of the best. All performance, all the time. A Pop Goddess.
We put videos and pictures of ourselves online, and, by watching ourselves, we are reminded that we truly exist. Mini-celebrities, apostles, Little Monsters maybe, reminding ourselves that our pasts are real, and so (logically) we are, too. Otherwise, there’s no proof. Otherwise, it’s your word against mine.
Lady Gaga has more proof of her existence than anyone, and that—yes—actually makes her better, in some way, in today’s currency. She and the porn stars have that in common.
Drew Barrymore once explained her decision to pose nude in Playboy by saying, essentially, that someday her tits wouldn’t look so good, and she wanted proof for later on. Why not?
We’ll buy Lady Gaga’s past—her spectacle—as she lives it. Long after she’s lived it, perhaps.
Once there’s a Koontz Gaga in every hotel room, like the bible, yeah, she won’t be worth nothing, and that’s when she’ll have made it…truly made it, like a soup can by way of Andy Warhol. When she is no longer real, but a part of the lexicon: Frankenstein and Dracula and Jesus and Mickey Mouse. Adorning stationary pads and bath towels. That’s when you’ve really made it: when you’re on the tip of everyone’s tongue; the way that they cheer and scream for you. When you’re a stock photo Charlie Manson or a Marilyn Monroe.
When we can buy you anywhere, all the time.
The only thing—the only thing that could bring the show and the general hysteria to a total stop is if some Pop Van Helsing seeks out the Fame Monster and drives a stake through her heart.
We’ve got a contender—there’s a seventeen-year-old New Zealander who claims she’ll never be royal, and that she’s not caught up in our love affair. Something new and icy, like pop grunge, ready to shine sunlight on all of us—the vampires tucked away in the sweaty tombs of the dance floor.
It’s closing time, she’s saying, and our better instincts seem to agree with her.
Gaga, then, finally as Prometheus, chained to a rock and eaten alive, so the world could continue to turn with order and reason, and all because of the fire she brought us. The moments when she brought it all into dramatic relief and allowed us to see, with HD clarity, that all we really wanted to do was just dance, religiously, ecstatically, silly humans that we were, maybe unworthy of gods—and monsters—to begin with.