A LOOK INTO THE MADONNA VS GAGA RIVALRY
IT was bound to happen: Madonna is now “officially” mad at Lady Gaga. And, therein lies a cautionary tale that all “original” superstars need to learn a lesson from—to avoid being used by lesser stars who have benefited from having been “influenced” or “inspired” by them.
Let’s face it, Madonna was the original self-transformer—but, she too launched her show biz “brand” by getting inspired by or downright ripping off seminal stars like Marilyn Monroe.
To Madonna’s credit, however, she creatively adjusted their “inspirational” inputs until they became practically her own. Thus, by the time she went into her career’s later phases and faces, she had become pretty much a creation of her own making—or “reassembling.”
Her ability to pull in subsidiary inputs from diverse sources, like her “cross,” “swastika” and “kris” motifs, has literally taken her all over the pop-cultural world, and enabled her to intentionally “confuse,” only later to fuse, diffuse and refocus all sorts of influences, until the final “finished product” can only and exclusively be called “Madonna.”
That’s quite a feat for an entertainer who isn’t all that lovely and doesn’t sing all that well. But, she’s been doing it with prodigious success for decades, so she must be doing something right!
For her part, Lady Gaga is even less beautiful than Madonna, and her body and moves sometimes come off as gauche and androdynous. But, she’s learned a lot about self-reinvention from Madonna, and has in fact taken it to more bizarre and attention-calling extremes.
Since imitation is a kind of obsequious and yet “user-friendly” flattery, Madonna hasn’t spoken up about Gaga’s habit of cribbing from her stellar ethos—until now:
Asked about the “similarities” between her production number, “Express Yourself” and Gaga’s “Born This Way,” Madonna pursed her lips and sniffed when an interviewer asked her if they had ticked her off.
Instead of answering the probing question directly, she expressed her displeasure visually—even as she dropped a more mystifying verbal zinger: No, she wouldn’t say that she found Gaga’s song and performance too much of a copy of her professional persona, but—“the word I would use to describe it would be—reductive.”
Asked by the less than literally astute interviewer what the word meant, Madonna cooed—“Look it up.”
Well, that sent thousands of pop fans and fiends rushing to their dictionaries and thesauruses, only to discover, perhaps for the first time, that “reductive” means “simplified” and (sort of) “crude.”
Trust Madonna to create a “literary” media moment like that. It showed not just her surprising erudition, but her readiness and ability to do whatever was needed to succinctly put her prime user and imitator in her place.
But, now that the shock waves of that monumental put-down have receded, we hope that Madonna doesn’t add further to the vitriol, because she would find herself playing Gaga’s game, and she would end up as the loser.
Why so? Because, as the original superstar, she has the high ground, and for her to descend from it would be to Gaga’s gain, since it would be Madonna’s admission that Gaga has become big enough in her own right to pose a threat to the original “grunge queen’s” superstardom.
No. Leave it at “reductive.” That was the stellar put-down of the year. Truly inspired. And, more than enough!