Thursday, April 21, 2011

...But not TOO out there.

I recently read an interview with Lady Gaga (I wouldn't call myself a "little monster," but I do think she does some cool stuff), and something in particular struck me as I was reading it. When the author presses Gaga about her recent subdermal body mods in her face and shoulders, and whether it might inspire her fans to get similar body mods, she says, "It's artistic expression.... It's a performance-art piece. I have never, ever encouraged my fans or anyone to harm themselves, nor do I romanticize masochism.... [M]y fans know me. They would never hurt themselves. And if they have hurt themselves, they come to me and say, 'Gaga, I want to stop, and your music helps me want to stop. Your music makes me want to love myself.' I am in no way promoting sadomasochism or masochism."

...Wait, what?

There's a drastic conflation of three disparate things here: BDSM, body modification, and self harm. The first is about consensual kink, which can manifest in countless ways; the second is about aesthetically altering one's appearance for myriad reasons; the third is about intentionally injuring oneself as a coping mechanism or as a symptom of mental illness. I'm sure there's some amount of overlap in these three populations - some people with tattoos self harm, some kinksters enjoy body mods - but I shouldn't have to point out that these are far from synonymous.

As a self-appointed figurehead/ambassador/idol for all the "monsters" of the world - all the "weirdos" and "freaks" and their myriad subcultures - I would expect Gaga to be aware of this. It's irresponsible of her not to; why would I want to be represented by someone who doesn't even understand me?

Unless she doesn't actually want to reach out to me and my kind at all; maybe, for all her messages of inclusiveness and accepting yourself as you are, there was an implicit "except for you people."

Wouldn't be the first time that's happened.


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