Having reflected on Gaga's Met Gala piece, the intelligence and hidden intricacies within it have really blown my mind.
I think Gaga knew that she *had* to do something different to a singular, outrageously-camp outfit. Whilst we were all expecting something in line with her previous style, Gaga's self-awareness allowed her to take a far more considered approach to the Met's theme. Personally, I think she knew that she couldn't 'win' the night through fashion alone. Gaga has worn hundreds upon hundreds of camp outfits over the last decade - outfits that she knew could never be matched.
And how could they? I mean, really? How could Gaga ever top what she has already delivered in terms of outrageous, camp fashion? She couldn't - she's done it all. And that is why, as opposed to reducing herself to self-imitation, she opted to tackle things from a fresh perspective. "Strip me from all my clothes, right down to even my underwear... and I am *still* camp" - that's the message that Gaga was sending here. A message that extended beyond the clothes... a message that, with great irony, rejected the notion that camp = fashion. Because to Gaga... camp = her very being.
I also think Gaga's approach to the Met was a good example of how she defiantly, and continuously, frees herself from expectation. With the theme of Camp, everyone expected Gaga to wear something shocking. They expected her to be the star of the night - for the fashion. But Gaga isn't interested in playing other people's game - the game of the 'machine', as she has called it. And by walking the carpet first, and by doing so alone, she made it clear that she wasn't interested in 'competing' with other camp looks. She didn't want to be part of a narrative of comparison... she did her own thing, and then she left. And I think that's a really powerful reminder of how Gaga, even in contexts of great expectation, will refuse to play the role she is booked to play.
RT to bless someone else's timeline pic.twitter.com/8gTGjXSa68— Lady Gaga Now 👾 (@LadyGagaNowNet) May 7, 2019
And in her defiance, there is always great irony. She *was* the star of the night - but she was the star *she* wanted to be. She wasn't there as the 'queen of camp fashion' as she was intended to be. She was there as the 'queen of defining camp'... and she did so with great integrity, and great intelligence.
Beyond the look itself, Gaga's performance was a true work of pop cultural commentary. In presenting herself as a pin-up model (through the fashion, the doll-like movements), Gaga ironically reduced herself to visual desire. "Look at me, I'm so pretty, take my picture, let me strip for you..." - this is a clear comment on how Gaga views the music industry and entertainment business. Through the medium of camp expression, Gaga - at an event that underpins this very culture - satirically parodied the superficiality of pop-stardom. And I think it's one of the most powerful messages of her career. "You might think I'm a pop-star for your consumption, but the joke is on you" - take her photo, make her money, make her a star... but 'you' (the industry) will never have her soul. It's very DWUW.
And then, coupled with the performance, came the prop of the makeup wagon. To me, in addition to the obvious exposure for Brandon's brand, I think this told the story of how pop-stars (and indeed pin-up models, too) are reduced to mediums of consumerism and capitalism. "Look at how pretty I am... buy these products" - Gaga, again, reduces herself, and her image, to a money-making promoter. Stripped down to her raunchy underwear, pulling along a wagon filled with beauty products, Gaga was the epitome of 'promo-girl' - the very thing she has always refused to be. She will never sell her soul to make other people money. *She* is in charge of what she promotes, and how she promotes it - not the industry.
Finally, I think the enclosed 'Joanne' hats within the wagon really tied everything together. In the world of show-business, Gaga's truth has continuously been locked away. Fame, industry executives and - unfortunately - even fans themselves, have tried to define *who* 'Lady Gaga' is. And through locking away those Joanne hats, I think Gaga is commenting on how she will never again lose sight of who she truly is (as she did during 2012-13). She may always return to her performative self, and she will always be the girl in ten inch heels... but no matter how much the industry / fans will try to deny this fact - she is not her image; she is not who anyone says 'Lady Gaga' is - she is Joanne.
If you've read this far, then I thank you for giving me the time to present my interpretation of the #MetGaga. If anything at all, I hope this post reminds us to truly trust Gaga's vision. She may not do what we expect her to do, or even what we 'think' we really want her to do... but she will always come out on top. Her intelligence and self-awareness are stronger than we give credit. This woman knows what she is doing, and she is in full control of her ever-expanding career.
To the future, monsters.
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