Lady Gaga’s “Monster Ball:” Scream-talk-talk…yawn

BP Drawing by Bailey Bieda

Jacob Ellenhorn, Arts Editor

I finally was able to see Lady Gaga in concert, so okay I wasn’t actually in the first row. Nor was I at the back of the stadium – rather, I was sitting at a safe and comfortable distance of 2,466 miles, on my green couch at home for Lady Gaga’s “Monster Ball” concert special  on HBO May 7.  Like everything she does, it was a grandiose combination of dramatic flair and shlock pop.

If anyone does not know who Lady Gaga is they must have been living under a rock for the past two years.  A.k.a. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, the New York-born singer and performance artist has mesmerized fans with her outlandish and impractical costumes. She is a media genius and manipulates public attention at every opportunity. In protest against the meat industry she left fans  at the Grammies scratching their heads when she appeared in a dress made entirely of raw meat.  Her most outlandish appearance at the Grammies, though, was last February when she arrived in an egg carried by hunky pallbearers.

Lady Gaga succeeds at going over the top in every public appearance.  She has also used her star power to raise awareness of social issues, which helped get her the number one spot on Forbes’ Most Powerful Celebrity list – a position spot previously held by Oprah Winfrey.

She began her HBO special with a nod to Michael Jackson, z”l, with whom she has more than a little in common, if you stop to think about it.  Dressed in an MJ-inspired military jacket, Gaga sang the pop anthem “Fame” but by her second song, “Just Dance,” she made it clear that she is one chatty songstress.  Lady Gaga appreciates her fans and she stopped the show to address them, often. But this sing-scream-talk-talk-talk cadence was irritating because it broke the show’s momentum. Diehard fans in the live audience loved it, especially when she called them “little monsters” – her pet name for the little monsters and self-professed freaks of the universe,” as she puts it, who she purportedly is trying to empower. The crowd was entranced by her. Every time she said something it went wild.

And that’s the synopsis of her concert.  Honestly.  Experts say that watching porn blunts you to the emotions of a loving relationship.  Well the same can be said of Gaga-dom — too much and you just want to say enough already. For me, the concert was a mash-up of shlock, promiscuity and a bit of music thrown in almost as an afterthought.

Strip Lady Gaga of her outrageous costumes (she probably wouldn’t mind) and what you have left is an Upper West Side intellectual who preaches atop her soapbox of fame and insists that she is a role model to her fans because her career is not just about music. But you are no one’s role model.  You are an entertainer.  Entertainers entertain. Did Elvis ever lecture us from the stage?  Let’s not blur the lines of professions.

Maybe I’m feeling frustrated with Lady Gaga because I’m watching the concert at home in a removed way, rather than there with all her other “little monster freaks.”  They are there in Madison Square Garden focusing their attention on their queen, who is at the center of the space that they share.  They dance when she sings, while I am stretched out on my green couch ogling her critically.

Whatever.  I am resigned to not understanding her.  I also accept the fact that she will never include me as one of “little monsters.”  I don’t wear rainbow-colored unicorn costumes.  People like me are just too darn dull for Lady Gaga to acknowledge.   Wait — did I just hand Lady Gaga the power to be critical of me?  But she’ll forgive my shortcomings.  After all, I was born this way.