Benjamin A. Brabon

Gaga Gothic

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Lady Gaga, postfeminist Gothic, horror/romance, performativity, commodification

In this article I examine Lady Gaga's fusion of Gothic and pop. Focusing on her provocative performances and 'dark' lyrics - from the infamous 'meat dress' to her debut album The Fame Monster (2009) - I explore Lady Gaga's use of Gothic tropes and her creative concerns for "what keeps us up at night and what keeps us afraid" (Gaga quoted in Dinh 2009). Within this context, I argue that Lady Gaga deploys and commodifies the Gothic - perhaps most strikingly in The Monster Ball Tour when she was 'bitten' vampire-like, causing blood to dramatically spurt from her neck, before 'dying' in a pool of blood - in order to craft the performative subject position and musical persona that is Lady Gaga. I contend that Lady Gaga can be located within a 'Postfeminist Gothic' tradition as she is the personification of a 'sexual subject' who harnesses the trappings of Gothic horror to express her postfeminist subjectivity. Existing within a domain of risk, she seemingly subverts expectation while at the same time conforming to it. In this way, Lady Gaga's Gothic pop/self provides expressions of the tensions of subject formation in a postfeminist era. For Lady Gaga, Gothic (per)forms a self that individuates as well as others.

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