Subscribe to Bitch—an award-winning, 80 page feminist magazine. Image Map

Gaga's Jo Calderone Confuses VMA Audiences, Me

Like many others (if Twitter is to be believed), I sat through two-plus hours of VMAs last night. There were highlights (I don't care how you feel about Beyoncé—her performance, which concluded in a mic-dropping-baby-bump-reveal move was the brightest of bright spots), lowlights (Chris Brown, who flew above the audience looking like a royal jackass—as if any amount of highwire bullshit could make up for his misogyny and abuse), and, well, there was Jo Calderone.

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music, Lady Gaga

Video: Lady Gaga's performance and monologue as Danny Zuko Jo Calderone. From a feminist perspective—hell, from an MTV watcher's perspective—it's tough to know how to feel about Lady Gaga's gender-bending performance as her male alter ego Jo. (First things first: Annie Lennox paved the way for this idea at the 1984 Grammys, though Gaga has yet to acknowledge it.) Sure, the performance commanded attention (at least initially—I agree with Kyle Anderson that she should have known when to fold 'em), but did Gaga's dressing and presenting herself as a man make any kind of a statement beyond that? Though I'm not a fan of Gaga's music per se, I do appreciate her postmodern-to-the-extreme commentary on celebrity culture, and I like that she attempts to do something with the platforms she's given—both politically and artistically. I think she was going for that with the Jo Calderone thing as well, saying before the show began that she's interested in "all the different people we can become or have become in the past." Her dressing as a man, especially in light of her public stance on identity politics (that people are "born this way" and should be able to live however they choose), could have made a strong statement. However, the cheesy accent and wild mugging for the camera pushed the persona into self-indulgent territory. (Especially when she kept it up during her/Jo's incredibly creepy presentation of Britney Spears' Vanguard award.) Lady Gaga as Jo Calderone Sorry Pony Boy, it's just me: Jo Calderone. I couldn't help but wonder what the point of it all was, especially moments like this one, where Jo talks about his sexual relationship with Gaga:

When she comes, it's like she covers her face 'cause she doesn't want me to see, but she can't stand to have one honest moment where nobody's watching. I want her to be real, but she says, 'Jo, I'm not real. I'm theater and you and I...This is just rehearsal.'


In theory, it's interesting—if a bit heavy-handed and self-centered—that Gaga would assume an alter ego in order to make statements about herself as a performer and her belief that she is "theater." But who is she trying to convince? After all, there wasn't much confusion before as to whether or not she is theatrical. And was the line about her covering her face while she orgasms meant to be a statement on intimacy, or was it thrown in there for shock value? If we're to believe that Jo Calderone is a jilted ex-lover of Gaga's, his berating of her and his revealing of her bedroom habits was arguably pretty shitty. But it's performance art, right? And Gaga is the one writing and saying it so that makes it OK, right? Aah! Postmodernism!!! *shakes fist* So what's actually going on here? Is Jo Calderone a modern-day Chris Gaines? Was Gaga simply trying to further reinforce her image as artifice personified? Did it work?

Previously: Bitch Radio: Movie Review-o-Rama! Our Idiot Brother and Colombiana, Remembering Aaliyah

Want more from Bitch? Good news! Our quarterly magazine, Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, is packed with 80+ pages of feminist analysis, reviews, illustrations, and more. Subscribe today

Subscribe to Bitch


Comments

48 comments have been made. Post a comment.

What about...

What about the fact that one of the most misogynist bands in recent history (advocating raping bitches etc) won "Best New Artist"

See if you can even listen to these lyrics without cringing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiiqqBw47HU&feature=related (Tyler the Creator)

I actually always took his

I actually always took his music as sarcasm and social commentary ...

trigger warning

That doesn't make it ok to say things like "rape a pregnant bitch and call it a threesome"

seriously?

tyler the creator? social commentary?
no, not at all. he's just about every kind of hateful that there is... if you need more confirmation, just check out his twitter (@fucktyler) for five minutes...

Re: "You and I, this is just a rehearsal."

Gaga clearly recognizes gender as a performance, and I believe Jo Calderone expresses that vividly in his monologue. He reveals his desire for Gaga to be "real," at least with him. He also relays Gaga's response, "Jo, I'm not real, I'm theater, and you and I, this is just rehearsal." Because Jo is literally part of Gaga's persona and not a separate person, the voicing of Jo's desire for Gaga to be "real" and Gaga's response become really interesting in terms of gender fluidity and identity, and their relation to performance.

Gaga's proclamation, "You and I, this is just rehearsal," is key. Not only does it indicate performance and a relational connection between "you" and "I" (the two genders of Jo and Gaga), it also indicates that this performance is just practice, that something else will come of it. I don't mean to suggest that Gaga has plans in the works that would produce some kind of finalized "product" of gender melding or splicing. A finalized "product" is not the point, and is also contemporarily more utopian than realistic. What I am suggesting, however, is that in labeling this performance as a "rehearsal," Gaga/Jo recognizes the potential for new formulations in the future of gender performance/production that press/shift boundaries in ways we can't begin to estimate.

The rest of my blog post is located here: Melding and splicing our way to gender utopia, Lady Gaga as Jo Calderone at the VMAs.

andryfemme
The Androgynous Femme

 

This comment made me want to

This comment made me want to applaud. Thank you for the informed, nuanced response that I think Gaga's performance deserved.

I would like to add a suggestion for anyone interested in delving more thoroughly into gender performance theory (and getting away from the confusion the Bitch author seems to be stuck in); Judith Butler is a fantastic source for the theorizing of drag, theater, gender performance, and gender performativity. A good (though admittedly dense) text is "Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity" (1990). If you don't want to wade through Butler's prose, there are plenty of documents available online that summarize/paraphrase her ideas. Butler is a brilliant pioneer, and I highly recommend her work!

Yes! Also...

Just to clarify, I want to say that I am not confused by the idea of gender-bending or why gender performance theory is an interesting topic to explore. Rather, I was confused by Jo Calderone and why Gaga chose to perform as a Ralph Macchio-esque caricature of a working-class male. Elements of the performance confused me, but I am not in any way confused by (or against) the concept.

Hope that helps!

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

But does there need to be a

But does there need to be a reason why she performed as him? Why can't it just be another aspect of her ever-changing persona?

Judith Butler, exactly!

I have an intellectual love affair with Judith Butler's work, particularly re: gender as performance, and definitions of gender/sex/sexuality. I'm glad I'm not the only one!

andryfemme
The Androgynous Femme

 

On a less serious gender

On a less serious gender performance note, I just wanted to say that the Ralph Macchio-esque working class male character totally works for me. It picks up on the 80s nostalgia of Edge of Glory, right? Plus, on a personal note, my brother and I have a very elaborate, but half serious theory that the Italian American represented a safe Other in the 1980s. The Italian American working class male is a completely unforeign foreigner, sexual and exotic, but totally white. Also, the character's name is Jo. The male version would be Joe, no? I like that as a homage to the real Ralph's femme 80s cuteness and how the name "Macchio" always seemed a bit more like an aspiration than a descriptor. It's almost as if she named her drag king persona "Jo Calderone" because "Ralph Macchio" was taken. Finally, I think we all should just take a sigh of relief that she didn't come out as a stereotypical Latino LA gang member. That could have happened a single or two ago, you know.

YES!

Thank you, thank you for commenting on this glorious event they call the VMAs, sadly I subjected myself to "most" of this program and missed that one part I wish I would have seen...Beyonce DUH! I was throughly confused by the Lady Gaga monolouge and I kind of wish it never happened, but maybe that is what she wants it to be confusing because that is interesting right? I guess I would rather she take the stance of making people think about a certain subject instead of leaving them confused all together. Lets be honest, the acting could have been a lot better and it may have been more entertaining and worth the time to watch.

On another note, thank you for posting that Tyler, The Creator video; I had never heard of him until last night and I am happy I know what he is about before he got too famous. Now I know what to look out for...that song was sickening.

Chris Brown's performance was disgusting and although the boy can dance it never excuses the ugliness of his existance...it makes me sad to think that someone can be paid millions after they get off easy for beating their girlfriend.

Lastly, I must give one positive aspect of the VMA's...Eminem's I Love the Way You Lie...did not win an award; if one more person tells me that is a good song I might have to go into hybernation! Why dont people listen to lyrics anymore?

Her act as Jo Calderone could

Her act as Jo Calderone could have the potential, even if it is done in a narcissistic way, to have a positive impact on drag in mainstream culture, to an extent. Her confidence in exuding her alter-ego as Jo could help other people discover their own drag selves and feel less weird about it. It is a frustrating thing though, because I feel as if she was totally doing it for herself and any positive impacts were just a side effect. It was really inspiring though.

Why is that frustrating,

Why is that frustrating, though? Why does she have to do it solely to have positive impacts, and why is it negative and frustrating that she was doing it for herself?

Much ado about nothing

I think that everyone is making way too much out of this. Performers have been known to use these types of venues to do shocking, over the top acts. Why is this any different? Why is this to be picked apart for some deeper meaning or message? And sure she has done some things similar to what others have done, but she's done MORE things that are completely original. I just think she does these things for people to talk about her...and talk about her we are. I didn't even watch the VMA's and I know ALL about Jo Calderone and everything he did and said.

It is being picked apart

It is being picked apart because that's what a "feminist response to pop culture" does.

why it was important

i dont care if has been done or not. i dont care if YOU get it or not. You the educated well read feminist are not the audience. neither am i.

the thing is the mtv demographic is 8-18 based on who was on last night. beiber, disney and nick stars. none of those kids know who Annie Lenox is.

they do know gaga. britney. and beyonce. they saw something different and beautiful tonight. they saw an fun feminine gaga and saw a beautiful performance my adele two women who had very different performances than most women on the vma stage.

some girl is gonna see that she doesn't have to but on a strippery sparkly show to be an artist.

well put ...

and I didn't think Gaga needed to acknowledge Annie Lennox. Gaga was born in 1986, about two years after Lennox's 1984 VMAs performance. She might know Madonna, but Lennox? I am not one to say.

word. also, why do we feel

word. also, why do we feel the need to call artists out on "stealing" all the time? Like the OP in their vaguely sanctimonious point about Annie Lennox - as if Gaga is deliberately trying to pull one over on the world. everybody "copies" someone at some point, especially in music, and especially especially in pop music. We as a culture value things that are "authentic" or "real" over things that are not, hence why more respect is given to musicians who write their own music. It's all mostly bull, because whether or not so and so singer wrote their hit song doesn't detract from the quality of their contribution. also, most of what gaga (and a lot of pop artists) "copies" is deliberate homage. It's so obvious that she's doing it on purpose that accusing her of stealing is just kind of immature.

Also, how exactly are we expecting Gaga to acknowledge all her influences? stand up before the start of each performance and say "what I'm about to do is kind of like this one thing that this one person did 20 years ago, and also like this other person's music video from 16 years ago, and if you tilt your head and squint, my hair kind of looks like that one guy from that one TV show from 2001."

This is how I think about it,

This is how I think about it, in art terms. We all know there are various art movements throughout the years. Ab Ex, pop art, op art, impressionism, cubism, etc. Do you think that Van Gogh "acknowledged" the impressionists before him? Or that Roy Lichtenstein "acknowledged" Andy Warhol? I'm sure artists have said how they're inspired by their peers, but I don't think that the *public* demanded it as people are demanding Gaga "acknowledge" her peers and elders.

There is no such thing as originality anymore, and just because Annie Lennox gender-bended in her performance in the 80s, doesn't mean that Gaga is "copying" her. She's simply doing the same thing. She isn't going around saying that she's the first female artist to have a male alter-ego.

In my opinion, it's simply a tactic to discredit and belittle.

However, I do disagree with your opinion about artists who don't write their own music. I think that manufactured singers and pop stars are a bit of a problem and it takes away from the artistry of the music genre, and are cultivated simply to make money. However, that doesn't mean that Britney Spears has bad songs or that i don't like them. I do, but she is manufactured and was created by a team of producers and record executives to make money

I am really confused about

I am really confused about why people are so confused about this. As the well-spoken commenter above me pointed out, Gaga views gender as a performance, and this was her slap in the face way of saying it. But I would take that a step further and say that she views life as a performance (which I agree with), which is why she assumes the Lady Gaga character (and she is a character, as confirmed by the Lady hirself last night).

But most of all, anyone who has actually listened to her album I would think would understand exactly what she's trying to accomplish here. Born This Way is all about creating and remaking yourself. She's said dozens of times that everyone is the master of their own destinies, that anyone can decide who they are and what kind of person they want to be. Gaga does it through her appearance and behavior. That's really what the album is about - she's not saying that we're all BORN this way, but that we are REBORN this way, through our own choices.

So was the performance narcissistic and creepy? Yes, of course, that was the point. I saw it as a layered commentary on the nature of fame, masculinity and the intersection between the two. It's no concidence that Jo and Gaga are lovers, and that Jo is kind of an ass, either.

I am constantly mistified by the response Gaga gets to EVERYTHING she does, especially as her only crime as I see it is being kind of weird. It especially mistifies me when I see the same kind of oversimplifications and dismissals from feminist publications as mainstream outlets, as I would think that people who hang out around these parts would be the ones to appreciate Gaga the most - maybe not for all the reasons I appreciate her as a performance artist, but at least for being an incredibly strong female role model who constantly gives the establishment - and the gender binary - the middle finger.

Orgasmic and obscene

From where I sat (a purple leather sofa sectional), Gaga wasn't hogging screen time. She was energetic, orgasmic, and filled with a legendary grace. She owes nods to no one, not even Annie Lenox. Post-modernity tells us so. Gaga was not tapping into an 'alter ego.' She was tapping into something primal: masculinity at its most pleasurably obscene. She called him "Jo." Katy Holmes didn't appear uncomfotable, rather she looked delighted. But, yeah, Kanye didn't look too thrilled, nor did Katy Perry's long haired music man hubby. What's that about? Men are often afraid of female masculinity. And women are, too. I was just reminded of this when watching Gloria on HBO and how hard it was for feminists to embrace the lesbian community. Well, I embrace the wonderful and artful nature that is Gaga. She makes me feel weird sometimes, but it's a weird I want to keep visiting.

Also, please to be checking

Also, please to be checking out Gaga Stigmata's collective orgasm about the performance; there are some incredible conversations going on between crazed academics who take Gaga as seriously as I do.

http://gagajournal.blogspot.com/2011/08/jo-calderone-performs-at-2011-vm...

All great points made here, but...

... what about the fact that this celebrity was a smoking a cigarette (indoors no less)? I have a problem with this and I won't take the "it was all for show answer." On a side note, Bieber's expression was priceless!

I can't tell if you are being

I can't tell if you are being sarcastic or are actually seriously offended by Jo smoking a cigarette (indoors no less!).

Well...

... No, I'm not offended, but:

Glamorizing a cancer stick on stage (to impressionable and non-impressionable viewers) to portray some washed out idea of machismo doesn't work for me. A mustache would have been a lot more effective, thought-provoking, and, in my humble opinion, better looking.

So basically you're

So basically you're nitpicking because her performance didn't adhere to *your* standards and *your* aesthetic. Well, she's not doing it for you, she's doing it for herself. To her, her alter ego smokes. Her alter ego doesn't have a mustache, her alter-ego isn't about what you think is masculine, it's what she thinks is masculine.

You know, I'm an ex-smoker and had cancer twice, and I don't think it was glamorizing smoking in the least bit. We're all allowed to have our opinions, and it's my opinion that you're seriously overreacting to something so trivial.

Next you're going to say that she was glamorizing drinking alcohol because she had a beer on stage and therefore was showing that drinking beer is so cool (!) and so glamorous!

I don't agree that she's

I don't agree that she's "doing it for herself." Anything she does on the VMAs is meant for public consumption. It's not like she's dressing in drag in her own bedroom, or even going out to clubs incognito in her drag persona.

Do you seriously think that

Do you seriously think that Lady Gaga does what she does because she's in the public eye and performing on massive scale? She performs for herself, and for no one else. If she performed for the public, she'd be Britney Spears. Britney Spears does it for the masses because she's manufactured and shallow.

I guess my point is is that I think it's silly and counter-productive to sit behind a computer and pick it apart and say how much better it would have been if she had done this, and that, and this, and that. Well, it's not your performance. it's hers. Jo Calderone is exactly how she imagines him to be, and portrays him exactly how *she*, the performer, wants him to be. This whole "It would have been better if....." is just pointless.

Um yes, of course I do.

Um yes, of course I do. She's absolutely BRILLIANT at getting people to pay attention to her; and she is rewarded handsomely with money and fame because of it. She's an entertainer out to be as famous as she can and make as much money as she can, like most entertainers. Do you seriously think she'd be acting the exact same way if she was an unknown artist toiling in obscurity? Would she be walking the streets in the kinds of getups she wears if no photographers were following her? She'd probably be arrested.

At this very moment, my downstairs neighbors are recording an album in their apartment; I can hear them through the floor. They are four brilliant, musically gifted queers, and often they perform in front of audiences of less than 30. They work crummy day jobs and live in the 'hood, but I always hear them practicing and they sound joyous. Now THAT'S doing something for oneself.

No disrespect for Gaga, but she's a businesswoman, plain and simple.

Her persona is pretty much

Her persona is pretty much the same as when before she was famous, it's simply on a much grander scale, and instead of making her own clothes, designers are making them for her.

"Would she be walking the streets in the kinds of getups she wears if no photographers were following her? She'd probably be arrested."

Except she kind of did before she was famous when she lived in New York and was a struggling artist. Just because Gaga is famous now doesn't mean she isn't still doing it for herself, she was once that person in the crummy New York apartment, recording music and making her own clothes, writing her own music, and working a crappy job. Just because she's famous now and makes a lot of money doesn't mean she isn't still doing it for herself.

Gaga was a burlesque

Gaga was a burlesque performer before she hit her big break. You can read about her pre-fame "getups" here. Yes, she's definitely got a knack for marketing herself, but I'm wondering why that's a bad thing?

Actually, they make fake

Actually, they make fake "prop" cigarettes that give off smoke without actually being cigarettes. I admit I didn't get a good look at what Jo was smoking, but it may have been one of those. It may have also been a tobacco-free variety, which are often used in stage plays. I'm not sure that Jo's smoking was meant to be glamorous, though.

But ANY celebrity/performer

But ANY celebrity/performer smoking a cigarette, real or fake, on any kind of stage or venue (or street!) is glamorizing it!!!!

So,

you do agree that Jo / Gaga glamorized cigarette smoking on stage? Either way, it's worth mentioning that 12.4 million viewers tuned in to the 2011 VMAs, according to Reuters. That's about 4% of the total US population, which is 308.7 million (from Census 2010 data). Trivial? Not for that 4% who tuned in. And if it was a prop cigarette it was a dang good one. Someone mentioned the considerable buzz being generated about Jo / Gaga's parody of the "working-class" man... good? bad? somewhere in between? Regardless, the performance is still buzzing in the cyber-sphere. Trivial?

I was being sarcastic. No, I

I was being sarcastic.

No, I don't think that smoking was being glamorized. Why do you? Because it was on national TV and it was done by a pop singer? Do you think that Mad Men "glamorizes" smoking? Is it only glamorous if it's on TV or in a movie or done by a celebrity? You can't just say that she's glamorizing smoking and leave it at that. How so? Why do you think so? What made it glamorous? You have to actually make an argument, you can't just say something and expect people to be convinced.

"Someone mentioned the considerable buzz being generated about Jo / Gaga's parody of the "working-class" man... good?"

Parody? So you think that her performance was exaggerated for comedic effect? Did you even bother to WATCH the performance or are you just going off on what everyone else is saying? It definitely wasn't a parody. It wasn't funny. It wasn't comedic. It wasn't exaggerated.

Of course the performance is buzzing... she's a woman, first of all, and she performed it in drag. It was controversial.

Why does Lady Gaga need to

Why does Lady Gaga need to "acknowledge" Annie Lennox's performance at the '84 Grammys? I've never understood that notion before... that younger singers and artists need to "acknowledge" the older artists who they appropriate from and are inspired by. Like how Bette Middler was all pissy that Gaga did a performance dressed as a mermaid and how she needs to acknowledge that she did it first. Ugh.

I also think you need to keep in mind that Gaga is a performer and everything she does is over-the-top and some would argue, self-indulgent. Every artist is self-indulgent, because their craft is about them and what they want to present to the world.

I recall a time when I was in high school, I dressed as a man for a day, and it was honestly, one of the most liberating days of my life.

And might I ask, does there HAVE to be a point? Can't she just do it because she wants to?

Why Confused?

She did a drag performance and played a jilted lover of her celebrity self, revealing intimate details in standard tabloid fashion. The character was fairly well developed (if cliche, in a distinctly traditional drag king way) and had much more of an identity than Annie Lenox's cross dressed performance in 84. Seems to me like the sort of drag persona someone who is already a celebrity would choose.

It's drag. It looks like drag. It sounds like drag. It isn't some theory class. It's just drag. Anyone who is really confused doesn't have much familiarity with the artform beyond the fact that it frequently includes cross dressing.

There's a lot of commentary

There's a lot of commentary on tumblr right now about how her use of drag takes from a community she has fucked up in relation to (aka the trans* community, (see the "I'm not a t**nny" incident in response to allegations of her being trans*).

Also her appropriation of some parody of working-class male masculinity is also problematic according to a lot of folks.

Jo was/is pretty hot but that doesn't excuse the fact that a lot of what she does is problematic.

I mean for all I know maybe she is trying, but she needs to be more aware of what people from communities she claims to support are saying when it actually has political and social relevance, if she actually cares.

You can't just sit there and

You can't just sit there and say it's problematic without going into *why* it's problematic. Back up your arguments, please.

I can't help but feel that

I can't help but feel that this performance is less about making a socio-political statement than a personal or artistic one. I remember a while ago there were a lot of unfounded rumors about Gaga being trans, and criticism heaped on her for not having "feminine" looking enough facial features. To me, something about this performance hearkens back to that. I'm not sure what, but it keeps popping up in my mind. At the same time, though, I wonder how much of Jo is about his gender/sex and how much is about his character. What I mean is, did Gaga want to dress in drag and subsequently make a character from the basis of a desired sex/gender, or did she conceive of a character who happened to be male/a man?

I don't know if the performance was successful. My interpretation of it was that it was more a commentary on the insistence that female celebrities be hyper feminine and ladylike all the time, and that discussion of sex or anything other than girlishly wholesome things is seen as terrible, but male celebrities are celebrated for their bluntness and "realness." If Gaga had had the same monologue about sex as Gaga, I wonder what the reaction would have been, if it would have been celebrated or reviled as "slutty" or something.

It's especially interesting when you consider this performance in relation to the presence of Chris Brown and the guy (Tyler something?) who sings about rape as a positive thing. While Gaga's performances and statements are scrutinized and picked apart, theirs aren't. (I'm not talking about Bitch, per se, but about pop culture audiences in general.) The layers, whether they were intended or merely projected by audiences, of Gaga's performance invite us to think about pop culture and celebrity, which I appreciate. I also appreciate that despite her ar-teest persona, Gaga seems to have a sense of humor about herself. My criticism. though, is the same as I had for "Born This Way," which is that her statements and socio-political stances can be somewhat clumsily made.

Gaga is boring and this stunt

Gaga is boring and this stunt doesn't strike me as any sort of Butleresque Gender Performativity; rather a woman of privledge (on many levels) grasping for attention from mtv viewers. *yawn* maybe if it was a big, fat, butchy dyke on stage i would want to watch.

I feel like Jo was a stand in

I feel like Jo was a stand in for the audience--I've heard so many people say, "oh Gaga is so fake. She's a copycat." So, Jo seems to be that person--wanting to know the real Gaga, thinking the "real" Gaga is the best. Except Gaga rejects that. Gaga feels that the "fakeness" is her best self, her real self.

On the other hand, I just saw on youtube a 60 minutes interview with Gaga and she explicitly states that her goal with the theater is to distract people from her real life---to have some privacy.

I agree with the author here,

I agree with the author here, as well as monty's comment. Never really been Gaga-ed to begin with- except for those late nights dancing at the gay bar- and I can't help feeling cynical about her motives when using her drag persona. She's a pop star. Nothing more and nothing less. She purports to speaks for queer community, and many in my community find that to be a good thing, and others, not so much.

I LOVE drag kings and am friends with many. What I love about my kings is that they are anything BUT misogynistic. They are sexy, playful, and somehow they pull off being chivalrous without being sexist. They swagger but make it clear it is for their female audience, not their own ego. It's quite a delicate balance that is only achieved by those who really know who they are as a king. Jo seemed like a Jersey Shore type Dudeface.

Additionally, I watched the Annie Lennox video. I found hers to be far more exciting than Gaga's, due, perhaps, to some of the things I mentioned above. Just cuz Gaga wasn't born when that video was made doesn't excuse absolute non-acknowledgement of the talent that paved the way for her. And, ahem. "Born this Way"? Carl Bean.

"Just cuz Gaga wasn't born

"Just cuz Gaga wasn't born when that video was made doesn't excuse absolute non-acknowledgement of the talent that paved the way for her."

You have got to be fucking kidding me.

What the hell is with all of this "she has to acknowledge her elders!!" shit???

"Is Jo Calderone a modern-day

"Is Jo Calderone a modern-day Chris Gaines?"

Hilarious. I actually thought of Chris Gaines as I started reading this article and had to laugh when I got to this sentence.

This just sounds stupid. I can't bring myself to even watch the video. I mean, I dig Gaga on some level, but this just seems cheesy. I guess I won't know until I watch it. But I can't. I just can't.

Love Gaga!

Is she perfectly feminist? No. Is she educated in feminist theory? No. Did she finish college? No. In other words, she is like the majority of America, the majority of women, and the majority of the LGBTQ community. She's gotten some flack from some in the latter quarter, but they still remain her strongest fan base. Few of us are perfectly politically correct. We all offend people for not being "educated enough" about their issues at some point or another. We learn from our mistakes and move on. I think it's likely that she hung out in circles where the term "tranny" was used in a casual and nonjudgmental fashion. Did it make it okay for her to throw it out there outside of that circle in the international spotlight? Well, no, but give a girl in her early twenties who never finished college a goddamned break. I don't think she was trying to convey disgust at the idea of trans folk, and I don't think she's repeated that mistake since then, so she is capable of learning and changing.

She's an artist people. At least she tries. She gets it sometimes, and a lot more often than most people in Hwood (and considering her age, I commend her for it!). I believe she performs for her fans, yes, but also for herself. I fully believe she would go out as Jo to have a drink at the bar. I fully believe she gets dressed to the nines just to stay in and drink cocoa while watching the rain fall outside her NYC apartment. She didn't go to business school and then systematically and sociopathically set out to make herself a pop culture product devoid of any authenticity. Her authenticity is her fetishism of the archetype and artifice.

It doesn't always have to have a point. It doesn't always have to be political. Pop is about fun, relief from boredom, and something different. This woman is keeping the pop and fashion scene interesting, and doing it all on her own terms. Yes she wears shockingly little clothes most of the time, but she is doing it while putting on phenomenal performances and often isn't even being particularly sexual about it all. She writes her own music, was classically trained in piano, has an amazing voice, some of the most creative videos of all time, is a great dancer, objectifies her male dancers as much as herself, and continuously defies female gender expectations.

She isn't trying to appeal to men's sexual desires-she's appealing to her own desires and I think that message speaks to a lot of women today. A lot of women love clothes-sexy clothes, soft clothes, restrictive clothes, professional clothes, sweatpants, whatever-but they don't always love or think about the male attention that their clothes attract. And why should they? I think Gaga is one of these women. She isn't trying to turn men on in exchange for emotional or financial support. She's just doing the things that she's always loved doing. But at the same time, she is doing political stuff, she gives (massively) to charity, and overall comes off as a genuine human being underneath all the fakery. Basically, she is Dolly Parton (why hasn't she ever acknowledged her influence??!!).

Given her new video for You and I, in which she literally makes out with herself (symbolically bringing her narcissism to new heights), perhaps this "stunt" makes a little more sense now.

Take a look at the comments to her videos, and at least half of them are by people who feel the need to point out that she is "ugly" or "gross" or "not talented" or "not sexy" or "a hermaphrodite." Anyone who can inspire such misogynistic and homophobic vitriol while physically embodying the female beauty ideal so flawlessly is obviously on the side of right in this world. No one in this thread mentioned the other gender bending stunt that I'm pretty sure she performed at the exact same show-she wore teal pubic hair over her clothes in a performance of "Born this Way," both on her crotch and her pits. She was up there gyrating like the female sex machine synonymous with pop culture with two inch long blue armpit hair. You gotta love that!

My mistake-was actually at

My mistake-was actually at '11 MuchMusic awards that she had blue pubes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOoyBVo2IP4

And just to add to my ten page post, I think her songs are a lot more feminist than your average pop tart. She isn't singing about how her life is meaningless without a man or how desperate she is for male attention-she's singing about how her boyfriend should go after the man he's interested in (Alejandro), how she's too busy having fun with her friends to waste time on worrying about dudes (Telephone), and her moral struggles (Judas).

I love Lady Gaga, but have to

I love Lady Gaga, but have to admit that Jo Calderone wasn't my favorite stint. She's a creative genius, but may be ahead of her time on this one.