You aren't alone!
// JJ Brewis

When Lady Gaga burst onto the music scene in 2008 with a Davie Bowie-inspired lightning bolt on her face, it was novel. When she wore a dress made of animal flesh to an awards ceremony last year, it was evident that pop culture had a whole other issue on its hands. Musician Frank Zappa has said, “No change in musical style will survive unless it is accompanied by a change in clothing style. Rock is to dress up to.” While it is clear that each major mainstream artist has arrived with a gimmick-- from Madonna’s cone bra to Avril Lavigne’s necktie - Gaga is the first of a group of trendsetters to take the bar to a new, and now obnoxious, level.

This year’s MTV Video Music Awards were a good example of copycat fashionistas doing their best to bring wacky fashion to a new level. But, rather than have their look mean something, or be a motif in the face of regular fashion, it’s like anything else when overdone: everyone looks like a mess, blending together and bringing the trend to an obnoxious level.

Most of this year’s heavy hitters arrived in, and subsequently changed into, multiple far-out, “crazy” styles that were bait for fashion blogs and water cooler discussions the following day. From Katy Perry’s “cheese head” cube hat, to Kreayshawn’s “Ghetto meets Sesame Street” ensemble, everyone looked a shameful mess. The icing on the cake was likely Nicki Minaj, who looked like she had rolled through a stuffed animal factory covered in super-glue. And then there was the the one who started it all: Lady Gaga, simple yet complex, as “Jo Calderone”, a male drag character: an Italian greaser in slicked back black hair and a suit.

Perhaps Gaga is overwhelmed by the trend she has unleashed on her own industry, and is trying to take it back to “the basics” where each of her looks was a motif for something more. When she first began, early looks were “inspired” by the singer’s idols, or aimed to represent something, like the early “drag” outfit she wore of a suit and tie with suspenders to an early gay rights rally two years ago; or the performance in which she “bled to death” to signify the effects of “Paparazzi”. But over the years, Gaga herself has gotten a bit out of her own line of intent, often covered in seemingly random and ridiculous disguises. In a way, her own Jo Calderone character is an understated yet streamlined effort, which partially stands for telling the others, “You’re doing it wrong.”

The public has, in a way, demanded these wild characters, and that their fashion-biting go to the level that it has. People simply don’t have the attention spans they used to, particularly regarding pop culture and its occupants. The media chews up and spits people out faster than ever, which is probably the reason that Lady Gaga has been forced to ‘reinvent herself’ dozens of times, despite only just entering her fourth year in the public eye. There is simply no way of taking it slow and steady anymore without risking being left behind or considered passe. No matter what one’s talents are, they are now a pawn in a ridiculous game where pop stars are essentially forced to register themselves in a competition of out-doing the rest.

Take Rihanna, a vocally gifted, and successful young performer. Before Gaga, she had half a dozen number one hits under her belt, and maintained a fan base given her catchy tunes alone. But in recent years (or shall I say, post-Gaga), Rihanna has joined the ranks of her peers, with “artistic” video teasers, outer space-inspired fashion, and clown-style hair.

The thing about this trend is that it’s gone on far longer, and become more outrageous, than previous fashion/music collaborations. Nineties and grunge was but a blip compared to the ongoing spectacle that is the entertainment world right now. But, like everything in the public eye, this kooky look will have to be surpassed by a new one, a day that many of us await with bated breath; anything in excess that goes on too long becomes tired and boring. When someone wears a suit made entirely of sparkled fruits and vegetables and it doesn’t even come off as daring, then it’s time to move on.

// JJ Brewis
Art Director

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com