Pop Rocks

Pop Rocks: Lady GaGa, Would You Please GoGo Now?

Sounds like somebody is getting a little tired of all those Material Girl comparisons:

When NME asked the 25-year-old star whether she thought "Born This Way" was a knock-off of Madonna's "Express Yourself," the singer (real name: Stefani Germanotta) was outraged. "I'm a songwriter. I've written loads of music. Why would I try to put out a song and think I'm getting one over on everybody? That's retarded."

She raged on: "What a completely ridiculous thing to even question me about...If you put the songs next to each other, side by side, the only similarities are the chord progression. It's the same one that's been in disco music for the last 50 years. Just because I'm the first f***ing artist in 25 years to think of putting it on Top 40 radio, it doesn't mean I'm a plagiarist, it means that I'm f***ing smart. Sorry."

So smart, in fact, she seems to think disco dates back to the Kennedy Administration.

But never mind that, because when it comes to championing the cause of those who can't help the way they are, Lady Gaga sounds very dumb indeed.

The word "retard" seems to occupy a grey area between truly unacceptable epithets (the "n"-word, the "f"-word) and others which, while vulgar, aren't generally enough to elicit widespread condemnation (calling someone an asshole, for example). I think it gets less attention than it might because the only people who seem to use it with any regularity are high schoolers and internet message board denizens.

What makes Lady Gaga's usage of the word puzzling isn't her age (she's still only 24), it's the hypocrisy. For months now, the self-styled champion of the LGBT crowd has been braying to anyone who'll listen about her support for gay rights and the need to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Noble goals, to be sure, so to what do we attribute her mockery of a class of people who were also "born this way?"

"What's the big deal?" You might say, "The mentally handicapped don't even understand what the word means." First of all, fuck you. Second, tell that to the parents of any kid with a mental disability who's going to grow up among other children who hear their family and friends use "retard" as an insult. Bigots and racists aren't born that way either, they become such by growing up in an atmosphere of intolerance. Mentally challenged children may not understand the word, but they know when they're being avoided. The ability to comprehend makes little difference when you're being mocked, or abused.

Empowerment and respect are apparently reserved for those able to buy concert tickets.

The same kid who hears his dad calling someone a retard today might be the one in the State Legislature tomorrow voting down funding for the mentally challenged. And frankly there are enough of those kids in government as it is.

I wrote most of this yesterday, before seeing that the Mama Monster herself sent an apology - to Perez Hilton:

"I consider it part of my life's work and music to push the boundaries of love and acceptance.

My apologies for not speaking thoughtfully.To anyone that was hurt, please know that it was furiously unintentional.

An honest mistake, requires honesty to make.

"Whether life's disabilities, left you outcast bullied or teased, rejoice and love yourself today." - Lady GaGa

I'm sure Perez Hilton was just as forgiving of Kobe Bryant.

But sorry, apologizing only after people start piling on rings hollow, whether it's from Mel Gibson, Kobe Bryant, or anyone else who "furiously" didn't intend to offend.

I hope this was, as she seems to say, just a frustrated slip. I'd like to give her the benefit of the doubt because underneath it all she's a 24-year-old who doesn't know shit about shit and still buys into all the adulation heaped upon her by her fans (and is experiencing a bit of unexpected backlash over a song she may not have intended to be a blatant rip-off, but...come on).

Because if it isn't simple immaturity, then it's indicative of something deeper, and it means Lady Gaga is herself guilty of fomenting the same atmosphere of ignorance as those who yell "Faggot!" at her fans when they're walking to their cars after her shows. That's a monster of a different sort altogether.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar