When thinking about celebrities and how they need to do their role in the fight for equality for all peoples, I typically think of new fresh faced celebrities, ones who are still in pop culture and people who the younger generation would call relevant. Not until reading Halberstam’s “Gaga Manifesto” did i start to think about it differently.
Halberstam called fro not going along with the present day way of going with things but rather called for a total upheaval, anarchy in a sense, a complete overturn of the way things are done, and brought up examples of celebrities who have not stood silent while injustices have occurred. First calling out Lady Gaga and her “Monster Manifesto” calling for change, Halberstam then lists numerous other names, from Gwen Stefani, to Yoko Ono.
By having such a vast array of pop celebrities in the argument, Halberstam proves that this is just not a current issue, that the call for an anarchist form of feminism has been on the table for many years and does not seem to be leaving anytime soon. Though it is disheartening in the sense that the fight has been a uphill battle for such a long period of time, it also instills hope in the sense that people have yet to give up on the fight.
Halberstam’s “Gaga Manifesto” laid out a series of promising liberatory possibilities outside of traditional institutional frameworks, but swept away the very real issue presented by the lack of directed vision in social movements without really addressing it in-depth.
I agreed with the piece’s rejection of the emphasis many modern social justice movements place on working withing existing institutional systems, and Halberstam’s allusions to new, more anarchic methods of organization struck me as prudent. Oftentimes, movements become so caught up in attempting to change things from within that they fail to see that they are becoming a part of the systems they hate and strengthening those systems’ legitimacy in the process. The university provides one such example, where, by allowing for limited forms of classroom-based dissent providing places for activists within the faculty, rich investors are able to harvest tuition from a larger, more diverse student crowd while strengthening the image of academia as a place of lively, enlightened debate. Thus, universities come to be considered progressive despite their role in exacerbating class and race divides—as a demonstration, next time you’re at the dining hall, take a look at the students ordering the food and the people serving it.
Unfortunately, Halberstam seems to fall prey to the same problem he critiques, as he goes on to name his new brand of feminism “Gaga feminism” after a woman who has a net worth of approximately $275 million and who, far from being an outsider, fits neatly in amongst the most finely groomed elites in Hollywood. Gaga’s deviance is performance, a temporary departure from normality that fades with the lights of the stage. This, also, is what Halberstam misses in his critique of Slavoj Žižek’s rebuke of Occupy Wall Street: Žižek desires societal change just as much as Halberstam, but he recognizes the futility of a movement content to waver aimlessly outside the castle gates. No matter how “revolutionary” the moment may feel, eventually the police will come calling with their guns and their tasers and their riot shields to make sure everyone finds their way back home. Žižek is calling for a greater revolution, not a lesser one.
Halberstam’s piece opens up many interesting avenues of discussion, but ultimately fails to pursue them in favor of a politics centered literally on “failure.” The worst thing to lack in a world spiraling towards disaster is a plan.
I was really intrigued by the Gaga Manifesto reading. It really forced me to re-evaluate my own thinking. How extreme and radical should our ideas of feminism be? How much of the system really needs to be replaced? I think that these are important questions to continue to ask ourselves. Putting women in power may not solve structural problems that our society faces. When we look at issues of class or race they may not be addressed by putting more women in leadership. We might not see women addressing larger issues of gender either. How can we start to insure that we are able to address all of these issues? Is our system salvageable or should it be completely re-written? I’m still not totally sure how this would even really be done and it is definitely something that I have been thinking about a lot lately.
I feel like a majority of the time, somehow celebrities names are being put out whenever we speak about a topic in class, most of the time it’s on the topic of feminism or queer theory. We’ve spoken a lot about celebrities in pop culture and how whether or not they’ve contributed to the community. I feel like nowadays, because we’re so caught up with social media/ technology and stuff, the media and pop culture is one of the most effective ways in which messages are being sent to us. In Jack Halberstams article, the Gaga Manifesto, he focuses on “Gaga Feminism” and how Lady Gaga herself is a prime example of someone who strays away from the “norm” and society’s fixed roles. Looking from the outside, many people view Lady Gaga as this weird woman just because she isn’t exactly like the rest of celebrities. Little do people realize that she actually purposefully does, what we may consider “over the top” things because one, she doesn’t care what people think, and two, she is making a statement for the people who follow her. She has so much influential power in which I believe she uses for good, and to make those who stan her more comfortable with being who they are. I feel like her song “Born This Way” really made a statement with that one. I feel like making statements is what she is all about and just not caring about what people have to say about her. She was also the first to represent the LGBTQ community during her Super Bowl half time performance. I feel like this is exactly why Halbertstam uses her, among all the other celebrities out there because she is someone who strongly represents the community.
I would like to touch more on the reading we did called “Are Moral Voices Gendered?” by Eric Plutzer .I think it is important to bring up such a controversial topic such as abortion, in order to bring awareness to the many sides to the topic. By many sides I mean not only the people that are for or against it, but the people who are affected by it. This being the women who are pregnant and the men who impregnate them. In class we discussed if the man really has a right to make a decision and looked at statistical data for why women are afraid to tell the man or what happened when they did tell them. I believe that the man should only contribute his opinion if it is asked for, and ultimately the women should be able to make the decision. It really is her body and her life that is affected the most because there are a lot of times where the man bails when there is an unexpected pregnancy. Personally I don’t believe that abortion is the right thing to do but again, I’m not in that situation and it’s not my body. I also don’t think that men have a certain right in making the decision of whether or not the pregnancy is terminated. Do I think the women who is pregnant should tell the guy? Eh, in one hand it’s her decision and in the other hand if she’s in a committed relationship, the guy should know but ultimately it should be her decision.
I found Jack Halberstam’s “Gaga Manifesto,” extremely interesting. While I am not a huge Lady Gaga fan, I credit for her role in making Millennials much more accepting and less quick to judge.
Over the decades American culture has shifted from being extremely conservative to much more progressive and accepting, and for a few years the majority of people were comfortable believing that now America truly was the land of the free. This idea has been challenged by pop icon, Lady Gaga. By overtly sharing her opinions on women empowerment, LGBTQ rights and sexual fluidity originally she made many people uncomfortable. However, by continuing to be herself and support these issues, despite how others perceived her, she gained a huge following. Gaga purposely stood out from societal norms in the most by breaking gender stereotypes, wearing obscene clothing and through her statements. In the past, there hasn’t been another public figure who has been known to make such a dramatic impact on how others view themselves and those around them. Gaga has opened the door for many people that do not want to fit in with everyday crowd.
I also liked the fact that Halberstam tied in Yoko Ono, who is a Japanese musician and also the widow of John Lennon. Mainly because I was not familiar with her work or that she still was even producing music. She similarly paved a way for many individuals to live as who they are. This added even more diversity to his reading and I have become intrigued with both artist.
Through the viewing of the documentary Paris is Burning, I began to understand the context and foundation of what we see drag as today. My only experience with drag had been through RuPaul’s Drag Race around my middle school years. It was not until I had seen the Drag Show that Haven hosts each semester, that I experienced Drag in person. I never understood how much drag related to Muñoz’s ideas of the stage as an escape. After seeing how the people featured in Paris Is Burning would treat the Balls as an escape allowed me to understand drag in a different perspective. Pepper LaBeija said, “When I first started going to balls it was all about drag queens who were interested in looking like Las Vegas showgirls, back pieces, tail pieces, feathers, beads and all that… it started coming down to just wanting to look like a gorgeous movie star like Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor. And now they’re went from that to trying to look like models; like Iman and Christie Brinkley and Maud Adams and all those children.” This statement relates to the idea that partaking in the Balls helped make the disadvantaged participants feel like they were part of to social elite. A specific thing said in the movie that I remember was that the young people of color would feel like white executives by wearing fancy looking, upper-class clothing. I never had thought of drag outside of the context of pure performance. I didn’t see it as an encouraging place where anyone could be what they wanted to be. Drag used to be something that confused me, but after seeing a Drag Show for myself and watching Paris is Burning I understand that Drag holds an important place for those who feel like they cannot represent who they really want to be outside of a Ball, or the stage itself.
After watching Paris is Burning in this class, I was able to take on a new perspective about gender roles and how they plan out in each individual’s life. Rachael brought up something I have never thought about before, the overlooked ridiculousness of gender themes parties. We all have seen one of these gender reveal videos on Facebook that is adorable, but reduces the babies entire identity down to a single color (blue or pink, shocker). This made me think more about the roles gender plays in my own life and how it shouldn’t be accepted to reduce my identity down to just my gender from birth. This idea reminded me of a video from BuzzFeed that I watched last semester. This video was titled Childhood Gender Roles in Adult Life. Simply from the title it is obvious what this video consisted of, a lot of pink, blue, and stereotypical “boy/girl” things. Essentially this videos purpose was to make fun of the gender norms we place on children (who have had no say in this identity given to them) and how it would be considered ridiculous as adults. I have always admired BuzzFeed as a company because I believe they do a good job at creating quality content, while putting different (sometimes controversial) ideas into perspective. There is a market designed specifically “for women” or “for men” products on things like pens and tape that have no gender specific role what-so-ever. While, this video isn’t necessarily directing any change for companies or people, it is a (small) step in the right direction to start the topic of not assigning specific gender roles to children. I highly recommend checking out this video and others like it that BuzzFeed has to offer that can give perspective on important topics.
Ever since Lady Gaga has been in the spotlight she is known to shape her career outside the box. From her creative and unique outfits on both the red carpets and in music videos to her songs expressing positive energy that it’s ok to be different. She is proving to society that there isn’t one set way everyone has to act in order to fit in but rather that she was “born this way”. Gaga even admitted that this song was “inspired by empowering music from the 90’s for women and the gay community.” Halberstam points out that when Gaga performs in her crazy costumes she is opening up a new world for the younger generation. She is paving the way for young children to prove that it’s ok to have your own special twist on anything you want to do. Not only is Gaga inspiring the feminist/LGBT community but also so many other singers are relating their songs to embrace ones inner powerful feminism. Demi Lovato another well-known singer includes her feminist stand in multiple of her songs. Her song “Confident” is all about loving yourself the way you are. I personally think that she’s doing a great job with finding herself and now has a control on her life and owns it. Not only that but like Gaga she also wears what she wants and doesn’t let the negative energy stop her on how she wants to represent herself.
Lady Gaga’s music isn’t always easily traced back to queer and sexual acceptance. It is more about how she presents herself. She isn’t your run-of-the-mill female performer who dresses in tight and ornate attire in an attempt to appear overly feminine and beautiful. No, in fact think back to her meat dress, or maybe her, “Born This Way” music video, and especially her many performances where she was dressed in drag. In every performance she has given, Gaga has tiptoed on the lines of male or female, heterosexual or homosexual, refusing to pick a side because in her performances, there aren’t any. “Gaga feminism advocates for being the fly in the ointment, the wrench in the machinery, the obstacle to the smooth, the seamless, and the quiet extension of the status quo,” (Halberstam 141). To be Gaga is to simply be anything. Anything you desire without restraint, and perhaps this is why she is Mother Monster. Slowly but surely, Gaga continues to tear down sexual norms and barriers.