It may seem profoundly unusual for a political blog to feature a story on a pop star--especially with the word "revolution" thrown into the title. All too often, fame and fortune pull superstars from consistent engagement with social issues of relevance to the working class majority. But Lady Gaga is anything and everything but your ordinary pop diva.
In addition, NUCOMINTERN is dedicated to the notion that politics and art inform one another at intimate and penetrating levels. This post will make a brief case for describing Lady Gaga as a genuinely innovative cultural revolutionary and briefly examine her impact on several important arenas of struggle.
Lady Gaga's work is provocative, performative, and bold--evoking memories of the great queen of pop MADONNA at her best. GAGA never fails to seize the moment--be it her powerful speech at the National Equality March in 2009, or her provocative new video for the hit single "Born this Way." GAGA's theatrics often serve a subversive purpose. She undermines conventional norms of femininity and beauty, stands in solidarity with QLGBT struggles, and has put her kneck out for immigrant rights.
Proudly, GAGA celebrates being different. She is a creature of pride and expresses love for her fans and for humanity as a whole that make her remarkable in the world of pop culture. Followed by more than 9 million people on twitter, GAGA also follows a good million and a half, many of whom are simply fans who have somehow won her attention. GAGA's online "monster family" is a veritable subculture articulating values rooted in GAGA's music and in her progressive positions on social questions.
GAGA's most explicitly political stances have been around QLGBT equality. In addition to speaking at the National Equality March, GAGA has been vocal about the militarys' proscription of openly gay service, and on the question of marriage equality. In "Born this Way" she also makes powerful statements against racism implicitly rejecting islamaphobia as well.
Heroically, she also rose to the challenge in Arizona in 2010 by paint-markering a message against the heinous anti-immigrant bill SB1070 on her arm while playing to a sold-out Phoenix crowd. Significantly, it was queer activists in Arizona who met with GAGA one on one, and shaped her approach to the issue. When a group of racist fans booed GAGA for taking this stance, she reportedly stopped the show to call them out for their bigotry, saying "this country wouldn't be shit without immigrants."
What comes of GAGA's cultural revolution remains to be seen. But it is undoubtedly true that pop culture is more interesting, more provocative, and more political with GAGA in the house. To paraphrase Marx and evoke Queen GAGA: Monsters of the world unite, we have nothing to lose but our chains.
-David Paul Tahrir Thurston, 3.28.2011 #BORNTHISDAY