Derivative Lady Gaga – UPDATED

Lady Gaga, reclining on a slant board in her underwear and a shawl, casts off a wire-mesh face mask that has begun to bore her. As the closing strains of the Alejandro playback fade out, she addresses her nameless flunkies and bodyguards

Darlings! Why aren’t you looking at me? I am in my underwear again. Doesn’t that stimulate you and shock you? Are you not provoked? Be provoked, damn you! I am a f*****g genius, am I not? Give me that Groucho nose and glasses, I can’t stand my face. Listen to that song, Alejandro! What lyrics! (Singing)

Alejandro, Alejandro
Ale-ale-jandro, Ale-ale-jandro
Alejandro, Alejandro
Ale-ale-jandro, Ale-ale-jandro

Dont bother me,
Dont bother me, Alejandro
Dont call my name,
Dont call my name, Bye Fernando
I’m not you’re babe,
I’m not you’re babe, Alejandro

Did you see how I did that? How I played with two Hispanic names to demonstrate the racism of white Americans who cannot tell one Mexican from another? Am I not daring? No, It does not sound stupid and repetitious! That’s intentional! I am drilling this into the guilty subconscious mind of all the world!

How dare you suggest it sounds like the B side of an Ace-of-Base reject? I’m a f*****g genius and I’m telling you it’s supposed to be derivative! I’m making a point about vacuous Euro-trash techno-blurb and how it delivers compelling social commentary with all the heft of soap bubbles! (Throws off Groucho nose.) The aviator cap, quickly! The one with the thick goggles! Shove it on my head! Cover me! (Casts aside shawl).

For the video, I’m thinking military steps with occasional pelvic thrusts! What do you think, darlings? Genius? Janet Jackson? What is a Rhythm Nation? Oh, but those dancers wore hats with visors! My dancers will be all male, really buff, and wearing leather shorts, and I will wear a bra that looks dangerous, in order to demonstrate my sexual power! (Flings off aviator cap; lays two steel wool soap pads on her eyes.)

Bleached blonde hair and black leather! How too-too! Madonna? Conical bras? Are you saying my ideas are derivative of Madonna’s? I’ll give you derivative! All that poseur ever did was wear some rosary beads around her neck and pretend to kiss St. Martin de Porres in front of a burning cross! She was wearing a black slip! You couldn’t see anything! I’m going to channel Evita! I’m going to wriggle my back for the camera!

Derivative my ass! I’ll be dancing in underwear that is derived from last week’s laundry, with a red cross at my crotch! (shoves steel wool pads into her bra and grabs a lampshade.) This my new hat! I am a f*****g genius! Then I’m going to simulate sex in my underwear! Because I don’t want Alejandro to bother me, don’t you understand? I’m with Roberto, then. Or Fernando, I can’t remember. Can you hear the drums Fernando?

You can’t possibly say that’s derivative! What if I put bongo drums on my breasts, and Alejandro plays them while singing Babalu? Derivative like Ricky Ricardo? What about if I am wearing, you know, those flouncy sleeves, while he plays me?

What do you mean, Cuban? Cuban, Mexican, what’s the difference? This is art, you dumbass, and I am a f*****g genius! You’re fired. DuctTape your iPad to my forehead and get out!

(Ponders furiously) Okay, I need to figure this out before I head to the Mets game in my underwear and leather jacket. Maybe I’ll wear a bicycle tire around my neck, too, or will that seem desperate?

I know! What this video needs to be profound and completely un-derivative is for me to dress up in a red leather nun’s habit and I’ll swallow a rosary, too, how do you like them apples, eh? That’s daring for ya! That’s edgy like Madonna never thought of bein’ edgy! That’s real art! And I’ll put on sunglasses, like Bono!

Get that red licorice over there–not the shoelace kind, the twizzler kind–shove them up my nostrils and staple half a lemon to my neck, like an adam’s apple! That’s beautiful! Where was I, oh, yeah, art! If people can’t handle art that’s edgy and creative and totally new, then they’re losers who don’t understand my heightened intellect!

Besides, when a song has nothing to say and rips off Ace of Base, the only way to redeem my artistic integrity is to sell it is with sex, ta-tas and enough religion to make the Christianists feel uncomfortable, even though they’re too stupid to know that it doesn’t mean anything. Deep down I am a quiet, reserved, highly religious woman who feels just a little confused. Sophisticated Catholics will find me amusing! Cramped Catholics will find my heretical! I’m fine with all of that, as long as they do not find me boring!

What? You found…the video…bor-bor-boring? But how can that be? I threw every offensive idea I could find into that. You’re supposed to find it erotic and thrilling and fascinating! You didn’t? B-boring? Bring me a bucket!

No, I’m not going to be sick, I want to wear it!

Pity me. Have sympathy of me. Buy my music and my merchandise. Do not pay any attention to Bookworm when she writes:

The joy of a normal life, a truly normal life, is that you don’t allow yourself to get blasé. If you live in the center of the path, which I always envision as a sort of Leave it to Beaver morality, you can still get excited by a jet flying overhead, a flower blooming at the roadside, a baby’s smile, or your lover wearing little to nothing in the privacy of your own bedroom. This is so much better than trying to live a life in which you constantly push your own sensory envelope. Rather than enriching your sensory life, it seems to me that, eventually, your perceptions become so calloused that there nothing left to bring you surprise or joy.

I know all about life! It’s about what 14 year olds want! I’m Lady Gaga, and I’m a f*****g genius! Next year, I will be derivative of Mummenshanz!

UPDATE: Got a Tweet asking me if I wasn’t a little less generous to Lady Gaga in this piece than I was writing a few months ago for NPR. Well, yes and no. Note my closing paragraph for NPR:

Lady Gaga is a good musician, therefore she understands the need for resolution. That may help her to move beyond the initial monster call-out. If she cannot, she will fall as quickly as she has risen, having unleashed onto a generation an idea that, like Madonna’s mindless sex fest, is ultimately empty, bleak and unhelpful. Even monsters need purpose and redemptive love, as Mary Shelley knew, or there is no place for them but exile.

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About Elizabeth Scalia