I find the strong reactions Lady GaGa inspires more interesting than her actual music and videos. (I do like some of her songs, but if I’m in the mood for dance pop, I’ll listen to Goldfrapp or the Norwegian singer/DJ Annie.)
Not many are neutral about Lady GaGa. Her fans adore her, and there are a whole bunch of them, but she also really really really gets up the nose of others, including, predictably, Bill O’Reilly and the always entertaining Westboro Baptist Church, who has singled her out as having a “whore’s forehead” (it’s some nonsense from the Bible, apparently).
There are precursors to this. You could go all the way back to Elvis, I suppose, but I prefer to arbitrarily start with the loathing Madonna inspired from mainstream media when she first appeared on the scene, and especially (this really dates me) the Disco Sucks promotion night at Chicago’s Comiskey Park in 1979.
Don’t remember that one? Here’s an account via the Independent
The precise time and place was 12 July 1979 at Comiskey Park, Chicago, at an event overseen by W-LUP DJ Steve Dahl, under the banner “Disco demolition”. In the intermission of a baseball game between the Detroit Tigers and the White Sox, a huge pile of disco records was covered in lighter fluid and then set ablaze. Anyone who brought disco records to the game for burning was allowed in for a mere 98 cents. Dahl was an overweight, bespectacled shock-jock in military headwear who had himself actually hosted disco parties. But he saw an opportunity and sensed the backlash that was swarming around him. Live on television, the flames sparked a crowd-invasion, the field ended up trashed, and the White Sox were forced to forfeit their second game. The event made the international news.
It was the end of an 18-month campaign that had been brewing across Middle America in order to contain the music that had so caught the popular consciousness. That it was picked up by the media with such enthusiasm demonstrates the latent hatred that had been festering. Disco was diametrically opposite to the macho posturing of white rock – and since there were no bands in disco, no tours, or souvenir T-shirts, it was difficult to quantify. A few journalists wrote passionately about it, but in the main it was ignored or treated with disdain. As Craig Werner writes in A Change Is Gonna Come, “The Anti-disco movement represented an unholy alliance of funkateers and feminists, progressives and puritans, rockers and reactionaries. None the less, the attacks on disco gave respectable voice to the ugliest kinds of unacknowledged racism, sexism and homophobia.”
Is this all a bit strong? Maybe. And I really can’t stand seeing those final three words strung together like that. It sounds like a paper written by a sophomore at a very expensive, mediocre private college. But I do agree that virulent anti-disco, anti-Madonna, anti-GaGa reactions (typically from “overweight, bespectacled” types) usually stand in for something deeper and nastier.