Lady Gaga n'est pas née comme ça. Elle a repris Madonna.
Published: Friday, May 13, 2011, 6:00 AM
By Michael Heaton, The Plain Dealer
I watched the Lady Gaga HBO special last week. The ubiquitous cultural phenomenon has been on my "to do" list for a year now. Before seeing her taped "live" performance at Madison Square Garden, I knew her only as the iconic wearer of a meat dress and for using a synthetic egg as public transportation.
I am happy to report that Ms. Gaga is so much more than her unusual garb and mode of travel. She is also an amazingly talented musician, singer and dancer. She writes and performs great, big dance anthems (formerly known as "disco") and possesses the powerful stage presence, with matching ego, necessary to energize large hall audiences coast to coast.
Perhaps what I found most enjoyable was the backstage (and some times under-stage) footage of Ms. Gaga undergoing costume changes that looked as complicated as a car transmission replacement.
Unfortunately where Ms. Gaga appears gravely deficient is in the department of originality. I was never an ardent admirer of Madonna, the erstwhile musical performer and adopter of Third World babies. But If I were Madonna's lawyer I would sue Ms. Gaga for identity theft. Gaga should be paying Madonna a licensing fee just for getting out of bed every morning.
Everything from the lyrics, the arrangements, the lighting and the dance numbers to the attitude, the foul language, the sacrilegious posturing and the pompous, condescending lecturing of her "monsters" is ripped directly from the Madonna 101 handbook.
Like Madonna, Ms. Gaga draws a demographic audience composed largely of young teen girls and urban gay men. She calls fans her "monsters" because they have been treated that way by society for being "different." I had never really thought about this before, but I guess a lot of young teen girls do feel awkward about themselves physically and emotionally in a way similar to how gay men feel growing up in a straight environment.
Since a lot of teen girls and gay men like dance music, well, there's your jackpot if you are Ms. Gaga. The show's narrative theme borrows from another iconic gay film, "The Wizard of Oz." Ms. Gaga plays a Dorothy type on her way to the "Monster Ball." I don't want to overemphasize the narrative theme too much. Ms. Gaga's show is only theater to people who have never seen a play. I felt the same way about Roger Waters' "The Wall."
The show contains a fair amount of filler patter, during which Ms. Gaga expounds with one overblown non-sequitur pronouncement after another vaguely tied to the theme of "being yourself." There's also a lot of vulgar, simulated gay and straight sex combined with Christian symbolism thrown in to bait religious groups into condemning her.
The whole show looks as aerobically exhausting as a P90X workout. Toward the conclusion of the evening, Ms. Gaga says, apropos of nothing, "I hate the truth. I'd rather have a whole bunch of bull - - - - than the truth."
Maybe that's because the truth is, she stole her whole act from Madonna.