A post-to-come on a topic begging careful analysis: Lady GaGa and her use of race in her music videos, photo shoots, and performances.
The photo on the left is of Kanye and GaGa for the deluxe edition of Fame Monster taken by the always edgy David LaChapelle.
This photo is just part of a larger racialized framework that GaGa uses to highlight and reaffirm her ‘bad-girl’ whiteness. A quick analysis of the photo. A tropical background, with Kanye, the native savior and GaGa, the defenseless, distressed damsel looking directly toward the objective viewer. She is caught off gaurd, covering herself yet enjoying the attention. Untamed nature: erupting volcanoes, tropical wildlife, which compliments the ferocity of Kanye’s distant yet determined gaze. But what is most visible in the photo? GaGa’s naked white body. Her whiteness. Her sexuality. The dynamics of race and sexuality are so interconnected and complicated here.
I’m going to go back to bell hook’s essay on Madonna and race. There are strong parallels in how both artists employ racialized imagery in their work.
Also, there’s an interview online somewhere (that I can’t find at the moment, but will search for) , during which she claims that her music has no gender, race, or sexuality. I was disappointed when she said this, but not surprised. It was foolish of her to say this, being that there has been so much speculation over her biological sex and sexuality.
A final thought/question on race and her music videos. LoveGame takes place in a subway station where she is the lone white girl entertaining a group of men of color. Paparazzi (after the long introduction with what’s his name from True Blood) begins with disabled GaGa being escorted to her mansion by black servants in a wheelchair (another dynamic being put at work: able bodies, disabled bodies, ableism, disability. She mentioned in an interview that she’s glad that it pissed people off). Conceding to to the politics colorblindness does not hide the racialized dynamics in her work. But such is the climate of pop culture.