Rants: Lady Gaga, Please Save Me From Your Little Monsters
Dear Lady Gaga:
I can’t believe I’m actually addressing you in a formal letter. Doing so validates both your existence as a pop icon and the ridiculousness of your name. I have to admit I’m not a fan of your music, but I do appreciate what you’re doing to raise the visibility of queer issues in mainstream culture. While I take issue with the audacity that must motivate anyone proclaiming themselves any sort of icon, I freely admit that today’s gay culture could use some new leadership.
I first became aware of you years ago when I sent out a call for song requests for an alternative queer dance party I co-DJ. We got a series of requests, some of which I already had on my computer and a few I’d never heard of. I downloaded those I didn’t have and put them all on shuffle while going about my business in the house. When the first few notes of “Just Dance” began bouncing off the walls of my apartment — I believe I was getting out of the shower — I immediately sprinted to the stereo system yelling, “Ack, ack, ack!” I quickly hit pause on iTunes and checked the screen thinking, “What was that? Lady Gaga? Who the F is that?” Crystal clear stadium pop, nothing I had any interest in.
I share this anecdote to illustrate how I knew NOTHING of you before I heard your music, which I feel makes my first reaction untainted by any spin, peer-pressure or otherwise undue influence. Little did I know that you’d make a regular occurrence in my life from that point on.
I freely admit that you’ve done an amazing job at accomplishing what you’ve set out to do. You make infectious, mass-consumable pop music. Gold star. If I listened to the radio or went to gay bars, I’m sure I’d never be able to get your songs out of my head. The one track of yours that I’m pretty intimate with — Bad Romance — I kinda like and I’ve actually played at our dance party. The crowd went wild. It was as if the attendance doubled with the chime only five notes. If only I had such power.
And I guess that’s why I’m writing. What exactly are you doing with your power, besides making money hand-over-fist? I guess you’re not a fan of PETA, since apparently you didn’t think twice about wearing a dress made out of meat to a public function. Between your speech at the National Equality March in fall of 2009 and your raising of gay male visibility through your videos, it’s obvious that you are interested in nurturing your core audience and finding them a place in the larger world. The real question is, what is that place?
Your so-called “Little Monsters” are looking to you — and have been even before you nominated yourself “gay icon” — for something to emulate. And honestly, I don’t think you’re doing the best job of it. Gay youth have been focused on pop music, pop culture, alcohol and sex long before you came around. Instead of grabbing their attention and helping them realize the import of many serious issues facing our community, you encourage them to be even more outrageous, more vapid, more carefree. While I agree that any young gay man coming out of the closet needs some immediate and intense fun to let him know that the world is worth living in, that can’t be the entirety of what his life revolves around. But maybe since you’re not a gay man, you wouldn’t understand.
Lady Gaga, I’m asking you to save me from your little monsters. I’m not asking you to corral them and keep them isolated from me. (Though maybe you can steer them clear away from my house parties.) Instead, I’m asking you to inspire them to be something other than monsters, something better. If you’re really as creative and talented as everyone says you are, you should be able to use your gift to help evolve your little monsters into medium-sized gay men and eventually grand people. Setting the bar low at “little monster” is insulting at best.
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