September 13th, 2010 / 6:57 pm
Power Quote

avant-gagarde

Camille Paglia says:

Gaga is in way over her head with her avant-garde pretensions… She wants to have it both ways – to be hip and avant-garde and yet popular and universal, a practitioner of gung-ho “show biz”.

If avant-garde is advanced guard, or vanguard, is Lady Gaga indeed avant-garde?

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339 Comments

  1. Matthew Simmons

      Love Oar.

  2. Steven Augustine

      Okay, just found “Land of the Sun” and I must admit you’re onto something…

  3. Janey Smith

      Lady Gaga, no. Tim Jones-Yelvington, yes.

  4. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      Let’s make out.

  5. Matthew Simmons

      Hmm. You guys are starting to convince me, actually.

  6. stephen

      i think artists like lady gaga, lil wayne, nicki minaj, kanye, etc. demonstrate that if you are “compelling”/actually “doing your own thing,” people respond to it. there are always ppl who will be like “but omg, like this other person did something in this other decade,” mostly in reaction to journalists having to use adjectives or whatever, but that is irrelevant in terms of the excitement ppl feel/get from those artists.

  7. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      …and the other thing, I think abt “major star of the digital age” is compression of timeline, so she’s disseminated what in the past might have been 5 or six album’s worth of hit singles on one and a half full-lengths, and undergone what for others might have been five or ten years worth of image transformations in two.

  8. Blake Butler

      agreed

  9. stephen

      of course there are lots of contributing factors (sex appeal/subject matter/co-sign from existing artists/and on and on), but yeah… lil wayne released lots of free music and he is weird/has funny/clever lyrics. and lady gaga does strange things, even if they are not new strange things (which, what is new exactly, and what does it “mean”/why is it “important” exactly, apart from writing an article/graduate thesis) (do ppl construct the impossible dream pop artist in their minds, the Savior Christ Pop Star for People Who Hate Everything? would be interesting/strange if there was a popstar who someone miraculously shut everyone up). kanye incorporates a lot of influences and doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks (or he cares so so incredibly much). also he is increasingly emo/self-lacerating, which is unusual for a rapper. also he makes interesting/appealing sounds, imho, even tho yes, he is an awkward rapper, some/all of the time. that’s appealing to me too, tho. nicki minaj seems to have like inspired a lot of girls/other people. maybe because of how strong she seems/acts? her lyrics seem to be the most interesting by a mainstream female rapper since missy. her outfits? that is my pop “analysis.” i like things that are compelling, esp. if the person seems to want to be compelling, as if they’re like gifting me/lots of ppl with being less bored temporarily.

  10. stephen

      i heard a rumor TJY is appearing “live in person” at quickies tonight in chicago. just sayin’

  11. Pemulis

      Thanks for not being offended by my (unintentionally) harsh use of ‘nonsense’.

      I wouldn’t say scientists believe reality itself to be ‘fluid’ (more of a humanities term, no?) Sure, our understanding of the world, our fleshing out of theories, is always under construction, but that’s very different than claiming a fluid reality. As far as what popular culture believes about science, I get the feeling it’s issue specific. Like take evolution: people like to misrepresent and stretch the hell out of the word ‘theory’ whenever something challenges their religious beliefs. But when it comes to gas, energy, and the engines that make our cars go zoom, it’s pretty much a lock. Even the relativists need to get to work (and are not floating up to the sky when they interrogate our political notions of oil).

      Anyhoo. Even though the gender stuff mostly comes from a good, heartwarming place, it’s grounded entirely in wish-fulfillment, not empirical reality. And the end result is just ludicrous. Example: browsing for some good amateur pr0n the other night, I came across this hokum: a fun, androgynous, gender-bending social constructivist couple who do believe in fluid sexuality, fluid identity, ‘sexuality as identity = social construct’. There was a dude who ID’d as a gay woman, and a woman who ID’d as a transgendered straight man. Or something. But in the end, they’re still just straight people fucking straight people of the opposite sex. Just like Judith Butler, who was born a lesbian, is having sex with women, and will never have sex with men, despite all the talk of social construction.

      Further, I think these fantasy claims of sexuality do more harm than good: they are essentially the same arguments the religious right uses to debase gays / inter their own gays into straight boot camps. (!)

      I guess what I’m trying to say is there is no substitute for good old-fashioned activism. Screw the obscurantist essays no one reads. March. Phone your representative. Do whatever.

      And for godssake, stop rationalizing Lady Gaga!

  12. Jordan

      I just think it’s great that theater nerds are winning.

  13. deadgod

      [O]ur understanding of the world, our fleshing out of theories, is always under construction, but that’s very different than claiming a fluid reality.

      That’s an excellent point, Pemulis. Commitment to an understanding of a partly-knowable reality external to oneself – a metaphysical understanding – is not the same as commitment to a complete, error-less, and non-trivial epistemology.

      [Two cavils: “fluid” is very much a term of physical science! (It’s the humanities which use it metaphorically.) And there are consistent philosophies that are committed to a “fluid reality” – Heraclitan stoichiometrical ontology and Nietzsche’s anti-metaphysics of becoming – but they’re rare and the frequency of their being misunderstood has everything to do with the epistemic difficulties they pose.]

      The point gender constructivists make – the ones who are limited relativists – is that: whatever the raw material – the biological foundation – of gender is, that raw material – those biological processes that materially impinge on our preconceptions – is still not apparent except through those culturally determined preconceptions. – So, whatever you’re convinced that “biology” is, it’s not possible to sift your cultural anticipations apart from your concepts or practices of biological science.

      A useful counter to a relativistic insistence on either perfect knowledge of reality or slack commitment to the ‘knowledge’ one purports to have might be pragmatic attention both to intractable material impingement and to one’s moral and social priorities.

  14. Matthew Simmons

      Speaking of the spectrum of mental illness and songwriting genius, I am just now for the first time listening to Big Star guitarist/songwriter Chris Bell’s I Am the Cosmos and am really loving it.

  15. Owen Kaelin

      Tony: Thanks for that MBV clip, though I wish it were longer. I’ve always been a huge MBV fan.

      …Along with Slowdive, Flying Saucer Attack, Ride, Chapterhouse…. . And the list goes on and on into last year. Shoegaze endures even as it changes form.

      …But nothing beats Jessamine and Mahogany (neither of them shoegaze).

      Any Bardo Pond fans, here?

  16. Owen Kaelin

      Tony: Thanks for that MBV clip, though I wish it were longer. I’ve always been a huge MBV fan.

      …Along with Slowdive, Flying Saucer Attack, Ride, Chapterhouse…. . And the list goes on and on into last year. Shoegaze endures even as it changes form.

      …But nothing beats Jessamine and Mahogany (neither of them shoegaze).

      Any Bardo Pond fans, here?

  17. Owen Kaelin

      Tony: Thanks for that MBV clip, though I wish it were longer. I’ve always been a huge MBV fan.

      …Along with Slowdive, Flying Saucer Attack, Ride, Chapterhouse…. . And the list goes on and on into last year. Shoegaze endures even as it changes form.

      …But nothing beats Jessamine and Mahogany (neither of them shoegaze).

      Any Bardo Pond fans, here?

  18. zusya

      looks like i’ve been relegated towards going ‘full tool’ in this thread..

      @Tony O’Neill

      my fav tool-related concert experience: seeing them perform like less than a week after 9/11 in DC.

      at end of a song early in the set, a bunch of the more meat-head-inclined persons down in the moshing area took it upon themselves to start aggressively chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” while just about everyone else there (90% of at least 5,000 or more people, including the band) stared back at them, more or less completely horrified.

      they kept chanting for like a minute until they realized they were in the extreme minority; their chant began losing momentum, and eventually trailed off, dying a slow entropic death. the auditorium – the cavernous MCI Center – became silent for a good 30 seconds.

      the band says nothing, then launches into the next song.

      @ blake

      i just re-examined this phrasing: “really pretty standard weird heavy music”

      that’s kind of why i like this band: standard+weird+heavy

      i’d argue good writing should be the same way

      exploiting what’s ‘standard’ — or put another way: exploiting cliches (the monads constituting pop culture) — is a great way to get your message out to wider audience, especially if what you’re after is getting people to digest the ‘weird’

      end with ‘heavy’ and you’re golden

      / never go ‘full tool’…

  19. Pemulis

      I guess I never got the memo.

      (This definitely isn’t a Nashville party).

  20. Pemulis

      I guess I never got the memo.

      (This definitely isn’t a Nashville party).

  21. Owen Kaelin

      I think Tim means we aren’t invited.

      It’s a Gaga thing. We were never meant to get it.

  22. Owen Kaelin

      I think Tim means we aren’t invited.

      It’s a Gaga thing. We were never meant to get it.

  23. Owen Kaelin

      Zusya: That’s a cool-ass Tool story. Made me laugh. Thanks.

      I’ve been avoiding going into any sort of Tool mode because, well, despite the fact I’ve always liked them: the band has just too many highly-vocal fans.

  24. Owen Kaelin

      Zusya: That’s a cool-ass Tool story. Made me laugh. Thanks.

      I’ve been avoiding going into any sort of Tool mode because, well, despite the fact I’ve always liked them: the band has just too many highly-vocal fans.

  25. Janey Smith

      Tim: You are the only reason I’d want to live in Chicago–although, I’m sure you could provide me with many more. I’m listening.

  26. Janey Smith

      Tim: You are the only reason I’d want to live in Chicago–although, I’m sure you could provide me with many more. I’m listening.

  27. Janey Smith

      Blake: If we could somehow sew Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco together, we could have really easy three-ways. Just sayin’.

  28. Janey Smith

      Blake: If we could somehow sew Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco together, we could have really easy three-ways. Just sayin’.

  29. Pemulis

      I guess I never got the memo.

      (This definitely isn’t a Nashville party).

  30. Owen Kaelin

      I think Tim means we aren’t invited.

      It’s a Gaga thing. We were never meant to get it.

  31. Owen Kaelin

      Zusya: That’s a cool-ass Tool story. Made me laugh. Thanks.

      I’ve been avoiding going into any sort of Tool mode because, well, despite the fact I’ve always liked them: the band has just too many highly-vocal fans.

  32. Janey Smith

      Tim: You are the only reason I’d want to live in Chicago–although, I’m sure you could provide me with many more. I’m listening.

  33. Janey Smith

      Blake: If we could somehow sew Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco together, we could have really easy three-ways. Just sayin’.

  34. zusya

      Owen: i know what you mean. maybe we can change gears and start talking about Merzbow or Philip Glass and really put everyone else to rights. Abba is good, so is Godspeed You Black Emperor; Voodoo Kungfu anyone? Ólafur Arnalds? right now i’m really digging some of the leaked tracks off the Tron 2 soundtrack.

  35. Justin

      While I don’t think there’s anything that hasn’t already been done in the videophone video (that is what you’re talking about, right?), it is a pretty obvious attempt by someone in creative control of gaga and beyonce to throw in some theory. The guns being wielded provocatively, the camera heads, and more stuff I can’t remember now, sorry, but I do recall watching the video and feeling like it had a lot more substance than any other video I had seen in recent years. Not to say it was anything artful or even good, but there’s definitely a clear attempt at symbolism, loaded imagery.

  36. Justin

      While I don’t think there’s anything that hasn’t already been done in the videophone video (that is what you’re talking about, right?), it is a pretty obvious attempt by someone in creative control of gaga and beyonce to throw in some theory. The guns being wielded provocatively, the camera heads, and more stuff I can’t remember now, sorry, but I do recall watching the video and feeling like it had a lot more substance than any other video I had seen in recent years. Not to say it was anything artful or even good, but there’s definitely a clear attempt at symbolism, loaded imagery.

  37. Justin

      While I don’t think there’s anything that hasn’t already been done in the videophone video (that is what you’re talking about, right?), it is a pretty obvious attempt by someone in creative control of gaga and beyonce to throw in some theory. The guns being wielded provocatively, the camera heads, and more stuff I can’t remember now, sorry, but I do recall watching the video and feeling like it had a lot more substance than any other video I had seen in recent years. Not to say it was anything artful or even good, but there’s definitely a clear attempt at symbolism, loaded imagery.

  38. steev hise

      the avant-garde doesn’t really exist any more. what (some) people are doing now is filling in the gaps left by the advance of the avant-garde – years, or in some cases, decades ago… the territory skipped over as the avant-garde marched toward the extreme edges of the cultural universe.

  39. Rebecca Loudon

      She kissed Oprah’s ass and compared her to Gandhi. I think that pretty much says it all.