Lady Gaga wowed a sold out FNB stadium in Johannesburg with her electric performance a few nights ago, SABC has reported. Her voice, energetic choreography and eccentric outfits were part of Mother Monster’s first performance in South Africa.
Gaga opened the show to screaming fans as she entered the stage through an opening of a womb, as if she was being born. The entire concert kept to Gaga’s popular theme for her third album, Born This Way, where she is unapologetic for being an out-of-the-box character.
Gaga changed her wardrobe numerous times including a meat-looking dress, similar to the controversial one she wore to the 2010 MTV Video Awards. Mother Monster belted out favorites tunes including the title track and number one hit, Bad Romance, from her second album and the controversial, Judas.
Some Little Monsters came dressed as Lady Gaga while others followed the spirit of being different by wearing unconventional outfits.
I must confess that I learnt about Lady Gaga quite late, a year after coming to United States – that was too late according to my friend. I was introduced to Gaga a few days before the devastating experience that saw Ghana out of the World Cup in Quarter Finals! I still cannot believe what happened. But that is a topic for another day if at all. Let us get back to Gaga. She seems important – there are more feeds on Gaga (on Google) than there are about Katrina.
Recently a South African blogger has asked if Lady Gaga could be an avatar and not a human being – at least in the collective imaginary of her huge fan-base.
The blogger explained that in computing, an avatar is the graphical representation of the user or the user’s alter ego or character. It may take either a three-dimensional form, as in games or virtual worlds, or a two-dimensional form as an icon in Internet forums and other online communities. The thing about a computer avatar is that the author is the user. It is he/she that dresses the character, chooses the hair, the look, the color and so on. The avatar becomes the perfect conduit for personal neurosis, dreams, desires and fantasies.
With that in mind, Gaga models herself, perhaps unwittingly, on what a collective avatar would look like. Her sculptural, varied and bizarre outfits feed into the collective psyche of multifarious alter egos allowing many to believe that they have some hand in her creation.
As the first huge star of the digital age, this goes some way to making sense of her. She dresses outlandishly, she makes scant commentary on media platforms, she avoids the paparazzi’s invasion of her private life and her stage appearances are massively electronic and impersonal.
She fulfills the conservative mainstream’s political expectations by not taking sides and writing off activism as irrelevant — yet she will support the LGBT movement. She also wears animal fur and remains unapologetic to the many fans who challenged her on this issue. She will speak against some human-rights abuses yet still ignore an appeal from Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel to boycott Israel.
While in South Africa, Lady Gaga visited the Mara Primary School in Soweto, yet her security team prevented the children’s parents from entering the school. What a bewildering and upsetting experience for the children and the parents this must have been.
This South African blogger go on to conclude that all of this ambivalence suggests that she may not be human after all, but a cyber manifestation of the collective contradictory transferences and projections from the digital-savvy youth who have the power to create their own avatars in the endless cyber-fantasy world that is available nowadays.
Like a computer-generated avatar she changes her art, her definition, her outfits, her politics as if it is the collective imagination controlling her and not herself.
She carries this fragmented worldview on her small frame like a slippery skin. Lady Gaga is both celebratory and cerebral, both computerized and human, both compassionate and inhumane. She is everyone and no one. Her appeal relies on both her presence and her evanescence.
There might be schools that already have courses on Lady Gaga and Post-modernity, which would not strike me as surprising at all. Perhaps then, she is actually a post postmodern digital icon that heralds a future that those of us born in the 20th century simply cannot grasp in full.
“Until the lion has his own storyteller, the hunter will always have the best part of the story” – Chinua Achebe
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Photograph by MailOnline