Lady Gaga will never be as talented as Janelle Monae

Lady Gaga live

Image via Wikipedia

Janelle Monae is better than Lady Gaga? Blasphemy!

Universities are now preaching the greatness of Gaga, and most of America has never heard of Ms. Monae. Your claim is ludicrous, Fruzsi.

Ah – but read me out. If you were to compare both ladies on their craft, you will see that Janelle Monae is actually the more talented artist.

Dancing:

Lady Gaga cannot do the moon walk. Lady Gaga does poses really quickly, and maybe does a little hip wiggle in her videos. Meanwhile, Janelle Monae does feats of slight footwork- including moonwalking. Monae doesn’t have dancers and fancy choreography masking her inability to dance. Jezebel recently wrote a piece titled “Why Has Dancing Become So Boring in Pop Videos” and surprise, Janelle Monae was the single exception.

Singing:

Ms. Monae clearly has the superior voice. Lady Gaga sounds the same in every song, while Ms. Monae can change the tone of her voice and still sound wonderful. Case in point, the “Many Moons” short film embedded below showcases Ms. Monae’s various voice talents. Lady Gaga saying “Roma” does not count.

Songwriting/ Storytelling:

Do I really need to mention again how Lady Gaga’s music videos have nothing to do with her music? We can all agree Lady Gaga’s lyrics are vapid, perhaps intentionally. Though her rhymes may be cute (“bluffin’ with my muffin”), her content is crass and unoriginal.  You could say this is because Lady Gaga is a postmodernist, and it is up to the viewer/ listener to determine and create meaning in her work. I call Lady  Gaga’s post modernist craft lazy, because it is very easy to throw shit together in a music video and count on misinformation to create a story .  Sure, Lady Gaga’s interviews do come off as postmodern, with her “challenging gender roles”, but Janelle Monae challenges gender roles too and doesn’t indulge in vague, sex-drenched or shocking spectacle.

Janelle Monae builds whole worlds for her albums based off her android dreams. Janelle Monae sings about the future, class differences and forms of prejudice. What does Gaga do with her position of power, beside sing about sex and telephone reception?

Originality:

This category is tricky, because every artist these days borrows from someone else. So, being as I am somewhat of a “feminist” (hide your eyes, insecure men!), this category is going to focus on rise to fame and sex appeal. Lady Gaga is naked in every music video, and has some controversy only the religious right care about in every video. She is relatively pretty, blonde and white. Lady Gaga teaching kids it’s okay to be different? Hardly. Nancy Bauer recently wrote in an opinion piece titled “Lady Power” (choice bits below, the whole piece is worth reading):

Gaga wants us to understand her self-presentation as a kind of deconstruction of femininity, not to mention celebrity.

And since Gaga herself literally embodies the norms that she claims to be putting pressure on (she’s pretty, she’s thin, she’s well-proportioned), the message, even when it comes through, is not exactly stable.  It’s easy to construe Gaga as suggesting that frank self-objectification is a form of real power.

Lady Gaga idealizes this way of being in the world.  But real young women, who, as has been well documented, are pressured to make themselves into boy toys at younger and younger ages, feel torn.

Leave it to Simone de Beauvoir to take her lifelong partner Sartre to task on this very point… When it comes to her incredibly detailed descriptions of women’s lives, Beauvoir repeatedly stresses that our chances for happiness often turn on our capacity for canny self-objectification.  Women are — still — heavily rewarded for pleasing men.  When we make ourselves into what men want, we are more likely to get what we want, or at least thought we wanted.

Lady Gaga is more popular because her brand of sex is familiar. When I look at Lady Gaga, I know how I am supposed to look and behave to be a “boy toy” or a heavily jeweled “ornament“.  When comparing Lady Gaga to Janelle Monae,  Lady Gaga is just turning the same old tricks with a whole lot more sparkle (and the occasional cheesy fire effects).  Janelle Monae on the other hand, wears a suit, gives off a female Elvis Presley vibe and has a penis -type hairdo. Janelle Monae doesn’t give a shit about traditional sex appeal or sacrificing her artistic vision to “please men”.   Says Janelle Monae in an LA Times interview:

“It’s time to redefine what sexy can be, and what a woman can wear, how she wears her hair, what shoes she chooses,” said Monáe, whose signature pompadour has inspired some to compare her to Grace Jones. “I’m about uniting and helping people become comfortable with who they are. Because there are young girls out there right now going through identity crises.”

via Ann Power’s Janelle Monae in Wondaland

And that way of thinking is super sexy. (Full disclosure: I have a raging girl crush on Janelle Monae) As for why the public hasn’t caught on to Janelle Monae? I can only guess the American public (including music execs)  lack the intelligence to appreciate Ms Monae’s work.

To conclude:

Janelle Monae is a level 18 bard, while Lady Gaga just recently obtained level 7 ( “Hypnotize” and “Fascinate the undead” are her main skills). If I was drawing together my party to save the world (because bards are important, don’t believe what any one says), I would pick Janelle Monae over Lady Gaga any day.

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Gender issues in video games

I read Katharine Fletcher’s piece “Confessions of a Call of Duty girl: Women in Games today” with my usual omg-article-about-girl-gaming zeal. Fletcher’s piece was interesting for a couple of reasons:

First,  Fletcher admits that she probably got her job because she was female, and that is perfectly acceptable, and understandable in the gaming industry. If you have been reading my blog, you should all know that women gamers make up about 40% of the gaming population (includes casual gamers), yet we are severely under represented, and if we are represented, it is in an overtly sexual way.  Case in point, Fletcher mentions Alex Sim- Wise, the NSFW model and game columnist. While I am not saying she should not take her clothes off to make more money off horny virgin males, it doesn’t really help us gamer ladies be taken seriously.  And, her nakedness, while strictly meant for the males, is potentially a big turn off for women who might be interested in gaming. That’s just my “feminist” two- cents popping out to say hello…. and this video below, narrated by a male, says everything I could possibly say on the subject.

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Second, when talking about the cancellation of Women In Games, Fletcher wonders why the conference couldn’t sell enough tickets. I never even heard about the Women In Games conference until news broke that it was canceled this year. Ouch. Well, gaming media is male dominated, and I don’t see much effort being put by the gaming media to reach out to women, so the fact that I never heard about the conference isn’t a surprise.

Could it be that, as with third-wave feminism, the embracing of diversity of viewpoints and lack of a single unified cause is harder to promote?

via Confessions of a Call of Duty girl: Women in Games today

Third,  I wonder if the apathetic attitudes and the mis-notion of feminism as being about women over men and not about equals is a British issue, because the ladies over here in America just want some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. I don’t think the goal of gender blindness is reasonable, because let’s face, we’re all animals at heart, all motivated by sex.  Mutual respect should be our the top priority, but we’re a long way from that….

When it comes to women in the gaming industry, sexually charged conversation is the dominate voice. When male gamers ask to see your boobs, or why you don’t have a sexy picture of yourself as your avatar, they do it because they don’t respect you as a person, and view you as a sexual piece of meat, even if they won’t consciously admit this. But hey, those males don’t know any better, because there aren’t other opinions or behaviors in that subculture, right? Have they been conditioned to behave this way?

I agree with Fletcher wholeheartedly, the more voices in gaming, about gaming, the better. I would think the notion of “many voices”  would be easier to promote….


Women's History Month is insulting

Suffragettes - Labor Day 1913 (LOC)

"Omg, can we vote already? Or wear pants yet? It's now the 20th century!" Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

I was browsing through a list of free lectures in Chicago when it hit me that I was doing so during “Women’s History Month“,  …..and I subsequently became enraged. Why do women have their own history month? Why do women need their own history month? I know what women’s impact on our society has been, thank you very much. Men’s inability to resist our naked bodies has been made very clear in the Christian “apple” parable. Who do you think is responsible for the creation of the 7 day week, and the 4 week month, eh?

The fact that women need their own history month is incredibly insulting….   we are the majority sex on the planet, but we are still treated like a minority. Every time a female becomes the first of her gender to occupy a position of authority, it is  noted in the history books.  Really, gentlemen? Are you that pathetic that it has taken thousands of years for you to share your power? Are you that greedy, and blind to all the problems of modern society? Stop making us women feel bad…. a history month feels like you’re pissing on our legs and telling us it is raining.

That rant aside, I was very pleased to see that no library or cultural center in Chicago is treating Women’s History Month with any extra pomp or circumstance by having more “feminist” lectures than usual.  Caffeine Theatre will be performing plays by Emily Dickinson at the Newberry Library at the end of the month,  and the Assistant Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs will give a talk on the role of women in Egyptian history next week at the Chicago Cultural Center.