Is Lady Gaga a goth?
We check out the gothic influence on Lady Gaga Bad Romance videos
The inevitable has happened. The mainstream media has attached itself to very gothic symbolism… again. Maybe labels don’t matter hugely… but when you do feel you’re part of an underground sorority/fraternity – say, if you’re a goth – then it is nice to be publicly acknowledged by the mainstream media once in a while. I had a private giggle when I saw one of my favorite make-up gurus on YouTube had a “Gaga inspired nail tutorial” of “her” red stylized cross from the “bath haus of Gaga”. Okay. Giggle. Let’s see this new “Alejandro” video, I thought. Is it any good? And, more to the point of this article, is it remotely Goth?
So. I watch Gaga’s Alejandro video. And… Wow. This is GAF (‘goth as f*ck’), and as The Lady of the Manners says, we can all hear the realgoths screaming “Tourist!”. That was my initial reaction too. How many times have we seen black nail polish and black Victorian-inspired items (or in Gaga’s case, a latex nun outfit) show up in mainstream fashion. We’ve seen black nail polish and fashion Victoriana appear in Channel among others, and we’ve seen Vogue magazine and Redbook giving advice on “How to wear it and NOT look Goth”. So what makes the eccentric American pop goddess any different?
In my mind, there is a difference between mainstream fashion wars and what Lady Gaga is doing. That differentiator is inspiration. In many a recent interview (mostly about “Bad Romance”, mind you) Gaga admitted in various ways that it was inspired by “Russian and German house music”, right down to the hardcore admission of being influenced by “Gothic Industrial Music”.
I, like many people, Goths and non-Goths alike, enjoy Gaga’s music and eccentricities. A dead Muppet outfit? Hysterical. A part of me was tempted to write her off as old-school glam-rock inspired, particularly after the Grammy’s Bowie-esque electric green sparkle suit and blue lightning bolt.
And yet… there was a touch of gothic influence about miss Gaga. Monsters (ie. paranoia), factories of ill means, mind control, poisoning boyfriends / entire restaurants and then “bad romance” harpsichords, deadly robotics, bionics… perhaps there was more to this lady, methought?
And now we have “Alejandro”. The sheer name makes me giggle. The music video on the other hand makes me sit straight up.
The video opens with a Nazi-esque solider in fishnets and heels followed by a post-apocalyptic band of soldiers training. So far, so Gaga. And then Gaga herself. Gaga? The Cybers called. They want their goggles back. Moving on.
Next is… a sparkly red thing pinned to a pillow and a coffin. A… coffin? Draped in what looks to be black latex? Okay. Black nails, more soldiers, mourning garb (mourning garb?) with a hint of orthodox Russia and a Rasputin vibe… I guess the sparkly thing on the pillow is a human heart. Cute solider. She hisses with fangs (fangs? I’m pretty sure those are fangs). Dancing prettyboys, more dancing, oh, I like her makeup. Latex nun costume, holding a crucifix lying on black silk. (Latex? Check. Crucifix? Check. Black silk? Check.) Wave upon visual wave of stuff that makes me blush. A red and white latex robe with crosses on the sleeves, hood and front. Hmm. I’d wear that. Then a Goth version of Karen Lynn Gorney. My mind is somewhat overwhelmed by the visual circus from then on. Okay, so you get the idea. Lots of “Gothic” imagery.
I am not saying that lady Gaga’s music is gothic. I am not saying that the pop goddess is the next Siouxsie. However, by Gaga’s own admission, her sound is inspired by Goth music. It has also been compared with Depeche Mode. And what about that electronic harpsichord? Plus the lamentful, Latin violin, the sad (or sexy, you pick) sighs, and very EBM back beats. It all mounts up to a heavy (and acknowledged) gothic influence on Gaga’s music.
Now, which trad Goth band was it that only got noticed when they did a cover of glam-rock Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust? Oh yeah, the one that wrote Bella’s dead. Hmm… (Note from Mooky Towers: Here’s a clue for younger mooks and non-trad goths: It was Bauhaus. Hurrah!)
There are times when I feel that maybe lady Gaga is trying too hard. Perhaps Gaga could just a pop icon looking for shock value with the general public, and I am not suggesting that she is Goth per se (too much colour). I do however think subculture should take note, mostly because we all know what it is to be called a freak because we think differently. Lady Gaga is all about the strong female that expresses herself. Her attitude makes for a perfect Mooky Chick – and haven’t we all have been looking for a sans eyeliner look for allergy season?
On a final note, however, one must acknowledge that the cover of Rolling Stones was lady Gaga’s machine gun bra, and not the cyberistic goggles or latex. So maybe the public isn’t ready for Goth Gaga either.