That thing I posted earlier about Lady Gaga? That wasn’t a real Gaga video. Gaga’s real videos are way, way better. Like this one. The music is just a platform to build everything else on. What I like about Gaga is that for her, just walking down the street is an act of performance art. The public personas of so many pop stars today are so manufactured that their every public appearance is a carefully orchestrated performance. The difference is, for someone like JLo (whose claims of being ‘real’ and ‘from the block’ are about as convincing as a political stump speech) the motivation is merely to look good, whereas Gaga is, if you will, authentically fake. That is, she has the self-awareness to realize that to be famous is to create a persona that must to some extent be a cover and an exaggeration of the true self. It’s a necessity, and it is, to her eyes, a creative opportunity. She has made a public persona that is wholly, exuberantly fake and exaggerated. Becoming a character – a cartoonish, fantastic one – is a braver and more revealing act than to purport to be a real person whilst being, perhaps unintentionally, a falsely constructed character (a la JLo). In her own way, by becoming the fictional Lady Gaga, the girl born Stefani Germanotta is the most convincingly real personality in pop. Whether or not what she’s doing will turn out to have real artistic value in the long run remains to be seen. I’ll just say that she’s the kind of balls-out big character our culture needs right now. I absolutely admire how her grasp of image and costume. Fashion is, after all, a living art form. Real fashion isn’t there to help you fit in with the crowd, or even to make you look good. Fashion, the art of clothing, exists to express your fantasies. It is, like all art, a portal to the dreamworld. Few people have the guts to use it as such, and Gaga is one of the few who is ready to use fashion to its full potential. That’s why she’s the darling of both the art world and the world of haute couture. Why designers of the top echelon like Giorgio Armani making custom dresses for her (the costumes in this video are by the late, great, dearly lamented Alexander McQueen). Why, for better or worse, she’s holding the world’s attention. Why she’s been alternately embraced and slammed (Nina Hagen called her a ‘satanic bitch’) by the greatest of the great. And why her songs get played every hour on the hour on every radio station from Indie to Tejano.