Halloween will see thousands of little girls dressed as Lady Gaga. Is this something to worry about?
Lady Gaga will be everywhere at Halloween. There will be no escaping her presence as gaggles of young and old kids choose to dress themselves up in imitation of their favorite rock star. She is an easy mark with her outrageous costumes and accessories – one of the best subjects in years.
Don’t Fear Lady Gaga
There is really nothing to be feared about Lady Gaga. She is a great source for innovative costuming allowing for imaginative extremes. Dressing up as someone does not imply that they are a role model for anything other their appearance. Think of the most popular subjects for Halloween costumes in years gone by. No one would suggest that appearing as Richard Nixon, Elvis, Michael Jackson, Madonna or Freddy Krueger was evidence of their serving role models.
Lady Gaga is a Work of Art
Lady Gaga is a definitely a work of art. Provocative, sometimes to excess, she is still a work of art and as such serves as a harmless role model in the realm of art alone.
Her first of three costumes at the Video Music Awards received praise from Lauren Ezersky hostess of “Behind the Velvet Ropes” who, according to MTV News, said, “She is like a work of art. When I look at her, it’s almost like looking at a painting by an old master.” The costume Lady Gaga wore to enter the awards ceremony was actually created from fabric printed with reproductions of details from old master paintings. Costume two earned accolades such as “quite exquisite” and “very gothic”. Ezersksy is quoted as saying that costume number three, the notorious meat dress, was “totally cool”. The meat dress harkened back to Canadian artist Jana Sterbak’s (1987) Vanitas Flesh Dress first exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada.
It is unlikely kids will comprehend the lyrics of her songs or even pay much attention to them because they are overshadowed by the artist’s performance that is always a complex staged fantasy. Her art is clearly an illusion and kids love illusions. Lady Gaga’s art is about dressing up. Kids love dressing up. And like in music videos they love prancing and dancing.
Kids, Illusion and Reality
One of the most interesting developments as children age is the change in how they deal with illusions. At a certain point parents inevitably express their nostalgia for the days when their little ones believed in Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy – when myths and fables fascinated them. Illusions are fun. We consider naive belief a charming attribute of childhood and often wish it would go on forever. Well it does in a way. Art is an illusion and that’s why, no matter what our age, we are fascinated by the best of it whether it be in music, painting, movies or television shows.
Adults as well as children love to suspend disbelief. Adults consciously accept this but are always fretful when children who do not have highly developed consciousness treat a performance as if it were something other than art. The less preposterous the performance the more likely this is to occur.
In the ridiculous excesses of Lady Gaga there is little likelihood that children will be influenced by anything other than her creativity. She is no more harmful than a slapstick comedy which if imitated by children in their play is clearly understood by them as a performance.
The Dangers of Reality and Near Reality
Reality, or the very convincing imitation of it, in material directed at children and adults requires more vigilant monitoring than does what is clearly intended as art. The closer many stories come to reproducing the real world the more they must be screened by parents. It is harder for a child to recognize a violent drama as fiction than it is for them to accept vampire stories and Lady Gaga videos as entrancing tales or entertaining fantastical illusions.