I was anxious to watch the Lady Gaga HBO special. So anxious that I spent the bulk of my Saturday night searching for it online. I came across a clip in which Gaga is in her dressing room, just before she takes on a sold-out Madison Square Garden for the 5th time (!).
In those 237 seconds Gaga is captured going through an emotional rollercoaster: first, bursting into tears while talking about feeling like a “loser kid in high school”, she goes on to say how she “will not be destroyed” and that it’s all about “being a winner” for the fans. She then wipes her tears and starts praying for god “to give her courage”. The scene got cut from the HBO original broadcast which is too bad because it encapsulates everything that Gaga is doing wrong these days and all that she has to offer: Gagaism, pop clichés and lame Madonna impressions.
The show itself wasn’t bad. If all you were looking for was ridiculous clothes, fierce dancers and “glittery” pop music, it was pretty enjoyable. But that’s what we have Rihanna for.
Gaga sees herself as a bigger icon that offers social commentary underneath her highly stylized wardrobe. She is clearly trying to use dance music, radical fashion and the exploding celebrity culture to tell her own personal story. She has been doing that since she got famous but instead of using her two-hour special to deepen her message, she only demonstrates how shallow it is. She talks endlessly about her childhood in New York, the struggle to become an artist, her dream to perform at the Garden, her mean teachers at NYU who told her there was no way she would ever succeed and her heroes (Liza Minnelli and Marisa Tomei) who came to see her shine. It’s all Gaga – over and over and over again. She pretends to make it about the fans. She goes on and on about how they should “be brave”, just like she is. For Madonna that would have been a 30 second intro to “Express Yourself”, for Lady Gaga it’s the whole show.
Finally there is the music. I had only heard three songs from Gaga’s upcoming album and was mildly impressed. You and I sounds vaguely familiar (4 Non Blondes, maybe?), Born This Way sounds like a Madonna hit and Judas sounds like an old Lady Gaga track (with an exceptionally bad video).
For someone who speaks incessantly about self-empowerment and being yourself it sure feels like Gaga’s unique voice has gotten lost in her own Monster Ball.