Monday, 19 April 2010

Gaga review

I admit, I've caught the Gaga bug. After watching the video of Telephone, I went out and bought all things GAGA. Lately, I've been wondering what the feminist response has been to this video. This is the explicit version:

There are some well-thought out feminist responses to this video. See, for example, , and especially (like really go read this one)

There are also too many poorly-written, standard responses that basically say: 'Gaga is not a feminist because she places herself as being the object of male gaze'. These are well, boring. There are also a number blogs that critique the hierarchy of race in the video and blogs that critique the question of transgender bodies and voices in the video.

Unlike many, I don't find this video problematic. This is because the video raises more question than it provided answers. This is, in essence, its post-structuralist appeal. Julia Kristeva since 2000 has blatantly argued that a new definition of the human subject is being issued in. This subject is not based on the certainty of its conviction, nor on foundational 'truths' that hold it together. Rather, this subject is based on a never-ending 'constructing-deconstructing' cycle in which it builds and tears down its identity as well as the identities of those around it. Raising questions is central to this subjectivity.

Kristeva goes on to argue - particularly in This Incredible Need to Believe - that the role of psychoanalysis is to aid in the construction/ deconstruction cycle. In so doing, the analyst enables the analysand to turn the cycle, which is in essence a quest(ion) for knowledge - into action. In other words, the analyst enables the analysand to turn its thought into action. Equipped with the ability to turn thought into action, the analysand enters the world and creates bonds with others. Thus, psychoanalysis takes the non-speaking, withdrawn, stagnant individual and guides them to become a dynamic, speaking individual capable of connecting to others. It does this by providing a narrative for the construction/ deconstruction cycle. Can Lady Gaga be said to be doing the same thing?

To answer this question, consider for a moment who Lady Gaga's audience is. Most likely, it is not anyone reading this blog (and if you are 21 and reading this blog, woo hoo!). Gaga's demographic is made up of those between 17 to 27 years old. See here Recall, if you will (or grab someone young and ask them), your identity when you were 21. It was in flux. Who you are at 21 is up for grabs. Lady Gaga's ability to re-envision herself and, more importantly, to be comfortable re-envisioning herself is hugely appealing for this folks. In essence, Gaga provides a narrative about an identity in flux. She reminds them, and me really, that change is constant - that identity remains unfixed. Becoming comfortable with that seems to me to be the biggest challenge of being human. If Lady Gaga instills confidence by describing the construction/ deconstruction of identity, she might very well be more successful in instilling feminist values than those of us working on feminist philosophy.

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