You would think we’d all wise up.
Sales methods and pitches – even when they seem cutting edge and new – never actually change from year to year. Heck, they don’t even really change from generation to generation. We still use doctors to sell meds and dentists to shill toothpaste. Celebs pitch products and sports heroes sell everything else. The tried and true of yesteryear continues apace as store flyers clutter our mail boxes (both physical and digital) while even the classic man-on-the-street handout still gets thrust in our direction as we try to walk on by. Sex continues to sell and attention remains “it.” Somehow, even when it all appears fresh and new, it really never, ever is.
Which brings me to Lady Gaga.
I’ll cut to the chase. She has a new perfume out, it’s called Fame and she wants you to buy it. “Fame” costs a lot to purchase but probably didn’t cost more than a couple bucks to make. And all of that is fine. But it has to make you wonder how the whole manufactured process of getting attention to sell stuff can change so very little and still net us in like the open mouthed bass we really are. Are we just that predictable and dumb or is it simply that we prefer to be sold a certain way, demanding that those wishing to do so play by the accepted rules.
It’s an interesting thought (he said, self-inflating his own argument) but really, the rules for someone like good ol’ Gaga are fairly simple. First, be anything at all but don’t ever be boring. If you want our attention outlandish and loud are the orders of the day. Stand out, no matter what. Next, realize that well-placed nudity is an asset that absolutely must be exploited if you are a woman. Naked flesh draws the men (and the ladies too) as we all need to have a peek so as to know what we’re either missing or wished we looked like ourselves (personally, I pine for her playful yet rarely seen inner-elbow flesh). Obviously you must also flout convention. Traditionally, this used to be far trickier to do. Elvis almost got himself in the soup for swinging his hips to much. These days as long as you’re not actually executing and then eating someone in public pretty much anything goes. Seriously, even the most heinous and depraved event can lead to more press, sales and work if it’s spun properly (check out the career of Fred Willard over the next few months if you don’t believe me). Lastly, remember that you have got to have oodles of stuff to sell. So don’t be shy, sign your name and image to damn near anything – pencils, erasers, shirts, hats, key chains, colostomy bags, anything. And then they need to simply stay visible - at all costs.
This is simply what’s done. Take “Lady Gaga” - is there really anything at all she does now that “Madonna” didn’t do back then? Outlandish costumes? Check. Religious/heretical imagery? Check. Gratuitous use of nudity/lesbians/sex in general? Check. Massive entourage, above it all personality, charity work/foundation for self-glamorizing appearances? Check, check and check again.
And dutifully we lap it up – hungry for more. Why? How can this tired show remain even remotely captivating anymore? To be fair, I can watch WKRP in Cincinnati re-runs ‘till the cows come home but isn’t this different?
Personally, I think it’s little more than our communal appreciation for the intense effort these sorts of driven people put into it. Honestly, if you need my money and attention that darn bad then fine – take my $50. It’s worth it, don’t you think? Look at the sort of desperate debasement these hungry souls routinely subject themselves to. And when any objective assessment of the lives they lead seems to paint a picture of a sad, grasping emptiness struggling with constant reinvention even as they fear the loss of mass appeal you have to feel for them. Sure it’s fun when they’re young and new and there’s a chance they might mature enough to stop needing fame but it gets predictably more sad as they age and cannot live without the love and approval of the millions they’ve never met.
So why not? Go buy a bottle of Gaga’s 650% marked up perfume and let the lady enjoy her time in the spotlight. God knows she’s working hard enough for it. But just remember to go easy on her when it eventually starts to slow down. It’s all fun and exciting now but you really can’t expect the girl to walk around in those ridiculous shoes forever, now can you?