Lady Gaga is actually the new Mae West
Lady Gaga is not Madonna. Quit with the comparisons, already.
As great as it might look on paper, watching the two of them cat-fight in S&M gear on Saturday Night Live last year was too painful to bear. Mostly because it prompted a stretch of dead air that was long and embarrassing even by SNL’s excruciating standards.
But for some of us the episode also vibrated with a certain deeper significance. Here was Madge desperately spraying Gaga with a whole dreary lifetime’s worth of unfunny. We know she can’t really sing, dance, or act, but historians have been remiss in not evaluating Madonna’s chilling comedy impairment.
In case you missed it, she remains the one SNL guest who ever fucked up the intro. “Live from Saturday—oops! Live from New York, it’s Saturday night,” she went, on January 16, 1993—the dummy—after a tooth-grindingly lame impression of Marilyn Monroe. This was the universe telling us that Madonna surrounded by comedians is Madonna way out of her league. Why were none of us listening?
Sixteen years later, there she is again, clawing at somebody else’s talent like Norman Maine in the leather-wrestling equivalent of A Star is Born. And we all know what happened to Norman Maine, right? Alcoholism, indolence, despair, suicide—that’s what. (Madonna joined a celebrity cult. Same diff.)
In reality, Lady G eclipsed the Material Girl pretty much from the minute she started pounding a piano in her parents’ living room at the age of four. Madge hung her career on the relatively thin reed of being the one promiscuous Catholic who wasn’t allowed to enter the priesthood. You might say she also has a gift for hiring good help. Stefani Germanotta merely boasts an astounding degree of talent, no matter how hard all you swinging dicks out there refuse to admit it. Same goes for any ass-picking sensitive types who lined up to have Joanna Newsom put you to sleep with her 12-hour set at the Vogue recently.
And while we’re at it, same goes for Joanna Newsom, who told the Guardian: “Smart outlets for musical journalism give her all this credit, like she’s the new Madonna”¦ She is the new Madonna, but Madonna’s a dumbass!”
Well, that’s not very fucking sisterly, is it? Plus, she’s not the new Madonna. Let’s put the record straight about this. Lady Gaga is a number of things—the new Cher (ass pride), the new Jay-Z (esoteric symbolism), the new Nirvana (I’m just trying to be provocative), and if she really puts her mind to it and releases an unlistenable three-disc album full of twee nonsense about jackrabbits, she could also be the new Joanna Newsom. It’s certainly within her broad portfolio of ability.
But most strikingly, thanks to a highly developed sense of the absurd crashing into a mile-wide libidinous streak, Gaga is actually the new Mae West. Please refer to the “Telephone” video for further evidence, which is stone fucking hilarious, from the Klaus Nomi–redux wardrobe design and lit-cigarette-decorated shades on down. And let’s not forget that the whole raison d’íªtre of “Telephone” can be traced to the rumour that Lady G has a peen hammocked up inside her silk dainties. Her response? She shoved her bald Tropic of Gaga right in your face.
I suspect that the innuendo was started by a high-ranking male record-industry dickhead who went one round too many with Gaga and lost. In her time, the brilliant and powerful Ms. West had to deal with the same smear, and the same petty jealousies. The only thing that’s changed since then, apparently, is the Hays Code.