Lady Gaga vs. Lilith Fair: Is One More 90swomanly Than the Other?

Hi Ada, So this weekend the New York Times ran Jon’s article on the demise of Lilith Fair aesthetics called “Girl Pop’s Lady Gaga Makeover.” You emailed to tell me that you thought it was really 90swomanly. Of course you are right: After all, when not writing about super-sexist rap lyrics, you can sometimes find Jon listening to the Indigo Girls or describing himself as “fifth wave” or “post-post.” Speaking of the Indigo Girls: He and Marisa and I are going to see them this weekend at Lilith Fair, so I think I will write more thoughts about his article then.

Just two quick thoughts in advance of that:

One is that I could barely think about feminism at the Gaga show because I was too busy thinking that it was basically a primer in queer theory. (I guess Gaga and James Franco have something besides their mainstreaming of performance art in common.)

The other thought has to do with the end of Jon’s piece, when he says:

In the Rolling Stone article, speaking about stripping down in the “Alejandro” video, Lady Gaga said, “It’s just me, and people will see that what’s underneath everything is still me.”

It’s probably the first time Lady Gaga has acknowledged that there’s a living, breathing organism beneath the hyperstylized exterior, that her flesh has any instincts of its own. Maybe she’s expended so much time and energy building up her outer shells that they’ve begun to reinforce her inner self too. This nakedness, this new assuredness — a Lilith ideal, perhaps — is a real step toward feeling. Or maybe the skin’s just another costume.

This reminds me of how, at her concert, when Gaga wasn’t yelling “I hate the truth!” she was yelling at her fans to “Be yourself!” What’s interesting about this, I think, is the way in which she vacillates between construing identity as performative and  construing it as based on something essentially truthful. Or maybe these aren’t two different poles, exactly; there has got to be something underneath the poker face. Regardless, that kind of love of both spectacle and sincerity feels very 90swoman. (And is not unrelated to my point about queer theory, I think.)

What were your thoughts while reading the article? Or this one? I want to know!

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