FOF #1328 – We Are All Lady Gaga

Feb 14, 2011 · 56996 views

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Happy Valentine’s Day! After months of teasing her little monsters, Lady Gaga finally dropped her new single, ‘Born This Way’ that’s causing quite a commotion for it’s similarities to Madonna’s song ‘Express Yourself.’ Why did she thank Whitney Houston at the Grammys?

Today we look at the impact the song is having and the history of other LGBT liberation pop songs that share the same title. Plus- Tracy Tyler discusses the Grammy’s, the Egyptian Revolution and a gay cruise aboard the Drug Boat.


  1. Angela says:

    If you like the 8-bit music aesthetic, Fausto, you should look into 8bitpeoples if you haven’t yet.

    As for Lady Gaga’s performance, I liked it. The song does sound basically like a cover of Express Yourself, but it’s got a good message, something that, like the It Gets Better Project, would have benefited sad little weird kids like myself had we had it back in high school.

    And I noticed other Egyptian/Oriental references besides the sedan chair: the ponytail was very Blonde Ambition, but set against the choli top and the slit skirt it read as “Jeannie”/cabaret-style belly dancer to me; also, it’s been a while since I practiced belly dance, but Gaga definitely did an omi (hip circle) at 2:04, and the backup all did a horizontal figure-8 w/ step at the end before they put their paws up.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents. Happy V-Day, guys, I love you too. 🙂

  2. J Seth Anderson says:

    Fausto, I didn’t even notice the latex costumes. But I don’t notice things like that, so if it was a conscience “safe sex” message it went way over my head. I loved her performance though. It was the only part of the Grammys I watched. 🙂

    • J Seth Anderson says:

      And thanks for the shout out! Love you too! Happy Valentines Day to you and Marc and Tracy!

    • You didn’t notice it was latex or rubber? What did you think the costumes were made out of?

      A lot of fashion and advertising isn’t always obvious, sometimes this safer sex message is buried in the costume. Her latex outfits make the use of latex much more appealing to young people.

      I was disappointed Madonna didn’t drop from the ceiling- but what can you do.

  3. MaxT says:

    I missed her performance… not a surprise, but I have to find it somewhere.

    Well yes the song is really very alike Express Yourself. But as a Madonna fan I love it and honestly it’s just a honor to have such an artist as Lady Gaga referencing Madonna so much and point out even more how inspirational Madonna has been and still is.
    The only thing I have to say: when you put the 2 songs together… well you hear even more the fact that Madonna is not the greatest singer… LOL

    You are beautiful all 3 of you! very desirable 🙂 and absolutely very well done!
    Happy Valentine Day!!

  4. mododavid says:

    Awesome cast as usual. Marc, that Miss Priss pose in the podcast image is AWESOME! Happy VD guys; VDs for everyone!

  5. 300fromRyan says:

    Gosh, you’re gettin me all sentimental too! Great episodes so far in 2011, & don’t worry, I’ll mee you 2 in real life soon!

    BTW, does # episode numbers on twitter no longer automatically put tweets under comments on the site, or am I just doing it wrong? #fof1328 before a tweet?

  6. Chickengirl says:

    aww… that bit at the end was real sweet.

    I’m always too lazy to comment on each show when I know I should, but I enjoy every one of em! and I guess I should be pretty thankful for getting to meet you guys in person a few times hehe, but really, you guys are awesome! Just keep doin’ what your doin’!

    As for the whole Lady Gaga copying Madonna… I dunno, in this day and age of music, I think its getting harder and harder to be completely original and new, without people comparing new music to older stuff, that’s just the way it goes! The same thing can be said about any other media whether its art, movies or whatever.

  7. Tony C says:

    I was around in 89 and I didn’t hear “Express Yourself.” I’m not big on the Gaga but I was really impressed with her performance. How can anyone dance in those shoes?

  8. Barrett says:

    Didn’t you all criticize Katy Perry for announcing “Peacock” as a gay anthem? How is “Born This Way” not just as arrogant and pandering, if not worse? Especially when it presents such dated ideas in term of queer theory. (“Born this way” vs. “give us justice regardless of how we were born”) And when the song uses racist terms? And when it equates religion to race and sexual identity? And that is all in addition to it being straight-up piracy.

    Gaga’s also late to the 8bit party. Plenty of electro groups did it as recently as 2007 and 2008. Most notably Crystal Castles. And most recently in terms of pop music, Kylie Minogue’s album “Aphrodite” from last summer.

    • Barrett says:

      Also- Happy Valentine’s Day to you guys too! Tracy had me cackling at several points. I’m really glad you guys are having her on semi-regularly again.

    • mododavid says:

      The KP criticisms were more about her being a two-faced P-O-S. One of her first big songs was about how her boyfriend was too feminine and “gay”, and she sang about how he should hang himself with his scarf because he’s “gay”. SO, KP will NEVER sing a gay love song or gay anthem as far as I’m concerned. But, anyway, that’s what Marc and Fausto and commenters were criticizing the most if I’m remembering correctly.

      • Barrett says:

        So Perry’s not allowed to be sarcastic? That song was dripping with sarcasm. That’s why the song took off in the first place! Katy Perry is a camp performer. That song was camp! It was all about playing with and calling attention how the word “gay” has been re-appropriated to mean stupid and how it’s used to emasculate men, like the imaginary boyfriend she says should kill himself, which is the absolute most absurd thing she could say in a break-up. Do you really think she wanted someone to go kill themselves? That’s retroactively tagging the buzz issue of (gay) teen suicide on a song that was totally innocent and ridiculous. She did the same thing with “Kissed A Girl,” when she called attention to how stupid it is that lesbian sexual behavior is enticing when it’s drunk and flirtatious and done for the approval of heterosexual men. It’s totally subversive because it’s candy-coated and bubbly and cheeky.

        And I’m talking about when she said she wanted “Peacock” to be a gay anthem and the reaction was essentially: Who does she think she is?

      • Angela says:

        Honestly, Katy Perry doesn’t strike me as intelligent and self-reflective enough to be adequately sarcastic in her music. Her defense of “UR So Gay”, which I wish I could find the article for so I’m paraphrasing was, “I didn’t mean that being gay is bad, I’m just saying my ex SHOULD have been gay because he was vain and pretentious and vegetarian, that’s all!” No attempt on her part to claim subversiveness at all. And her only analysis given of “I Kissed A Girl” that I saw was that she saw a photo of Scarlett Johansson and could easily imagine kissing her.

        Unless it’s all a very carefully conceived ploy to seem big-eyed and cute and naive to appeal to more conservative tastes than Gaga, I’m not buying that KP is all that clever. If you can show me an interview where she sounds thoughtful and informed then I’ll reconsider, but don’t just give your interpretations of her music which may give her more credit than due. That’s like saying “C’mon, the Phelpses are so outrageous with their funeral-picketing, they’ve got to be an elaborate ongoing performance piece!” (Which for the record, I don’t discount entirely myself. FoF interviews performance artists all the time, and Shirley Phelps agreed to an interview, so…)

        This is not to say that Gaga’s music is all deep and meaningful, of course. She’s a savvy self-promoter. A lot of her stuff just seems like the same rehashed dance rhythms with edgy visuals that KP does, with added Marilyn-Manson-esque shock value. What Gaga does have going for her is that she honestly seem to care about LGBT equality; she shows up and screams at rallies and everything. A lot of my friends don’t like her because she seems too self-serious, but I just find her and the career she’s built fascinating.

      • I like Katy Perry. Katy may have been sarcastic, but she used to be a Christian pop star (under her name Katy Hudson) before she stopped singing about Jesus and started singing about being true to yourself, with or without Jesus.

        They all have their quirks, and that’s why we love them. Hopefully they will advance our cause. Hopefully we’ll start celebrating indie gay male artists too!

        These young women who are just getting started, and have a bright future ahead of them. We can’t rely on any pop song to advance our cause, but can enjoy their music any way we like.

        Most of your friends taste in music would make you shudder anyways.

  9. Marc Felion says:

    @Barret – well, there is that.

    Also, I saw your personal ad in the Time Out feature. I’m thinking of sending you dirty messages. Would they go to you directly or would the filter them out?

    • Barrett says:

      haha, Isn’t that hilarious? I filled out the app because I struck up a conversation with the woman taking the forms while my friends filled out theirs and had their pictures taken and she goaded me into it. It was really nice of them to put me in there when all my answers we so silly.

      They go to an email they set up, so fire away! I haven’t gotten any. It’ll make me feel good about myself. :-p

  10. Barrett says:

    @Angela- I’ve always said Katy Perry just needs to shut up and sing. She’s a lot like Nicki Minaj. They’re both come off as stupid when speaking and do a better job articulating their ideas through their creative outlets, where they are both stand-outs. However, I think it’s perfectly legit to talk about the songs themselves, independent form the creators because there is a public reaction to them and what they say and there is a reason they gain popularity. Just because Perry’s inarticulate doesn’t mean she can’t create something sincere or pull of an act successfully. And even if we’re going to go after Katy in the most cynical fashion possible -which is to say she’s a moron and doesn’t know what she’s saying- you could argue those songs are still capable of saying something more meaningful just because of why they were received. (Look at Showgirls. Regular topic of the podcast. the intention behind its creation is definitely not the reason for its popularity now.)

    But this is derailing the point for which I brought Perry up in the first place – to illustrate that singers can’t just announce something as a gay anthem because it’s inherently exploitative. It’s up for the audience to find the meaning, not be told to like it in order to feed someone’s ego as a gay icon and fulfill their “commentary” on fame (see: Gaga).

  11. Angela says:

    Barrett: I suppose we can at least agree that neither of us know how sincere either Lady Gaga or Katy Perry is about their support of their queer base, or how intelligent the latter is about any of her songwriting. I don’t think she’s necessarily a moron, I can only speak for how she sounds in interviews, and she just sounds like she has a lot of unexamined assumptions and privilege. Then again, as you said, Gaga should probably check her own privilege over using words like “chola” or “orient” in Born This Way.

    And it’s a valid argument to say that songs and all other forms of art can be considered independent of their creators, and can have whatever meaning those who receive and love them wish them to have. But I think with celebrities who are considered icons like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry (please no groaning from those who prefer Madonna, I know they’re flashes in the pan compared to her), their songs just sort of orbit around their images like satellites around a sun, coloured by their public personae, and so any perceived insincerity about the person is easily read into the work. So for myself and others, Gaga seems willing to run herself ragged in support of queer rights, and KP seems only vaguely interested, hence one’s attempt to release a “gay anthem” is better received than the other. Just my interpretation of the debate.

    • Barrett says:

      I guess I’m just not convinced Gaga’s sincere given how much she talks about her stardom being a commentary on fame and how she’s so self-aggrandizing and contradictory at times. Anyway, I didn’t want to leave your comment hanging. I think it’s fine if people like her; I’m just not seeing the wunderkind so many other people are.

  12. By the way guys (especially Angela and Barrett), thanks for this wonderful conversation happening here! It’s so important to have this conversation where people can freely see it and expand their thinking about pop culture and civil rights.

  13. Angela says:

    Speaking of young women with bright futures, why has there been no mention of Janelle Monae’s Grammys performance? I love her and I heard she rocked it. She has just as much talent and flair as Lady Gaga (some argue more), and lyrics with plenty of freak-flag-waving pride like “Am I a freak? Or just another weirdo? Call me weak, or just call me your hero”. I also love that she’s like the only other person on Earth who’s read Octavia Butler, and it shows in the sci-fi/fantasy aesthetic of her first two albums. The whole vampires-in-film-and-TV trend could die a dignified death if Butler’s novel Fledgling was adapted to screen with Monae as the female lead.

    Found it! Her headlining performance starts at 5:05.

  14. david says:

    Fausto, you act like such a know-it-all. I don’t know how Marc puts up with you sometimes.. bleh

  15. mododavid says:

    How can anyone overlook Katy Perry’s bigoted lyrics about a man who is gay and should thus kill himself with a scarf? (or whatever it was)? She is therefore OBVIOUSLY just trying to use gay men to line her pockets, and when they’re done doing that …(got a scarf?) The voice in which she wrote “I wanna see your peacock” is one that does not at all understand gay men, and there is no subtlety to the song – there is no second hidden dimension to it. It is bubble gum pop with a too thinly veiled message to sensitive men i.e. YOU SUCK! Same as the strangulation song. Katy Perry is what Anita Bryant would have been if she had fewer principles and a greater thirst for gay money. VOMIT!

    **Also, Fausto, you are NOT a “know-it-all”. You can’t help being a classic renaissance man with a varied experience and a mind like a fly trap (knowledge goes in, but it never comes out.) Besides, you do admit when you don’t know.

    • mododavid says:

      She sings the kind of vitrol that seeps into society and results in wide spread bigotry, genderfication, limited views, etc. She is an undercover fundamentalist. She would meet the qualifications for preaching in any modern, christian, fundamentalist, hate-filled church. *I actually enjoyed her songs until I heard about her asphixiation-via-neckware song on FOF then listened to it, and I noticed that she’s never apologized for it. I refuse to join the ranks of the Gay Republicans. I will not enrich someone who hates gays because I don’t hate me.*

      Ok, I’m done. I think.

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