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Can we really blame Lady Gaga for being politically incoherent?

I love a good policy metaphor. This isn't one.

"Equality is the prime rib of America, but because I'm gay, I don't get to enjoy the greatest cut of meat my country has to offer." Lady Gaga continued:

... how much does the prime rib cost? Because I thought this was an "all you can eat" buffet. This equality stuff, I thought equality meant everyone. But apparently, for certain value meals, for certain civil rights, I have to pay extra, because I'm gay. I'm allowed to stand in a line next to other men and women, I'm allowed to get shot at and shoot a gun to protect myself and my nation, but when it's time to order my meal, when it's time to benefit from the freedoms of the Constitution that I protect and fight for, I have to pay extra. I shouldn't have to pay extra. I should have the ability, the opportunity, the right to enjoy the same rights -- the same piece of meat -- that my fellow soldiers, fellow straight soldiers, already have included in their Meal of Rights. It's prime rib, it's the same size, it's the same grade, the same cost, at wholesale cost, and it's in the Constitution.

I appreciate what Lady Gaga was trying to accomplish in this speech -- getting the two Republican senators from Maine to vote for cloture on a bill containing a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" -- and I certainly agree with her policy goals.

Cicero, the great Roman orator, remarked, "For as lack of adornment is said to become some women, so this subtle oration, though without embellishment, gives delight." Ms. Gaga seems to have read Cicero and decided, "that sounds like the exact opposite of what I should do." Lady Gaga doesn't really do "lack of adornment." Even though her meat metaphor makes even less sense than her meat dress, which at least could be interpreted as some kind of commentary on the objectification of women or the commodification of personality, or some other phrase that would have gotten me an A- on an undergraduate sociology paper.

I'm not sure from Gaga's speech whether I'm supposed to fight for my constitutional rights, buy them (can I supersize my Eighth Amendment rights, so that instead of merely being protected from cruel or unusual punishment, I'd be protected from all forms of punishment, forever?), or ask the Supreme Court to take them back into the kitchen and broil them a little longer. Metaphorically, of course.

Still, I can't really blame Lady Gaga for translating her outrageous style into her political work. Perhaps the fault is not in our stars but in ourselves. Subtle oratory doesn't get much attention in American political culture. President Obama isn't even all that restrained, and he's still considered too professorial. But Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) literally speaks to a colleague like a dog ("The gentleman will sit! The gentleman is correct in sitting!"), and he instantly gets thousands of views on YouTube. Or look at Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), who ranted about how Republicans want sick people to "die quickly" and became a hero to some on the left. Or Newt Gingrich, who got all of us to pay attention to him, even though it's not the late '90s anymore, by talking about Obama's "Kenyan, anti-colonial" worldview. Even Lady Gaga's out-of-control meat metaphor has more substance behind it than some of that nonsense.

Besides, look what happened to Cicero. Subtlety didn't stop his enemies from murdering him and nailing his right hand and tongue to the Roman Senate's door. Then again, we still read his speeches. I'm pretty sure no one is going to remember the current period in American history as a golden age of the spoken word.

By Stephen Stromberg  | September 21, 2010; 2:26 PM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  | Tags:  Stephen Stromberg  
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Comments

I have the right to NOT have to serve with people that continue to live a sinful lifestyle. The military and President Clinton never should have compromised by implementing, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Morale in the military needs to be as high as possible at all times. Allowing homosexuals to openly serve in the military will bring morale down. If anything, Congress should have the integrity to re-implement the policy that NO homosexuals are allowed to serve in the military.

Posted by: none14 | September 21, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

To none14, who said: "I have the right to NOT have to serve with people that continue to live a sinful lifestyle."

Actually, you don't have that right. For example, if a soldier is living with his girlfriend or her boyfriend, you still have to serve with that soldier, even though sex outside of marriage is a sin (check your Bible). If a soldier visits prostitutes, you still have to serve with that soldier. If a soldier refuses to go to church or keep the Sabbath Day holy--also a sin--you still have to serve with that soldier. You don't get to pick and choose which "sins" you don't care about and which ones will prompt you to go AWOL.

Posted by: sannhet | September 21, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Maybe instead of worrying about the impact of another soldier's sexual preference on morale, the military should worry about why our soldiers are shooting Afghans for sport? Seriously, which of those has a bigger impact on our ability to win a war and return Afghanistan to its people?

Posted by: thomas5980 | September 21, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

This Lady Gaga hysteria is a joke, right?

Posted by: BBear1 | September 21, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Please tell me how Lady Gaga is relevant to this debate, besides trying to get attention for herself. BTW, she is just a cheap Madonna ripoff and her music is pedestrian at best. Just another example of how our musical culture has become vapid and unispired.

Posted by: fwillyhess | September 21, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I prefer filet mignon anyway.

Posted by: adlynn24 | September 21, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

You are a cretin, Stromberg. Lady GaGa is on your side and you rag on her. Don't gays have enough enemies that you need to dump on your supporters? Your article was not clever or cute as you had intended, but carpy and snide. Did you think your references to Cicero made you come across as an "intellectual?" Damn, I'm so sick of dancing and prancing fools like you who think they're so clever while laying a big, foul-smelling egg right in their own nest.

Posted by: 7891 | September 21, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Hey twillyhess, speak for yourself fool. Gaga has more talent in one pore of her skin than you have in your entire self.

Posted by: mtravali | September 21, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Sannhet, you spoke the truth :-)

Posted by: 7891 | September 21, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Lady Gaga's brain is ground rump roast...

Posted by: redroomfotog | September 21, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

She put her remarks in the context of the much publicized outfit she wore to the last Award program, when she invited a couple of gay service people to be her escorts.

Actually, I thought her deliver was very good, having not followed her as a performer before. She is articulate, her delivery was sane and coherent, and I applaud her.

She has more potential than Palin, O'Donnel, Angle, Brewer, and some of the others that are pretending to be Senate material. Why not write about their incoherence?

Posted by: nana4 | September 21, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Gaga is no worse that Sarah Palin. In fact, I found the two to be quite similar even when Gaga was doing music and Palin was doing politics.

If they both start doing politics it's going to be hard to tell them apart.

Posted by: Deirdre_K | September 21, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

I like her message and the style in which she delivered it. It is priceless that someone so known to the public took a courageous stand against ignorant bigots. It is sad that this culture is plagued by fanatical fundamentalists who are as whacked as their counterparts half-way around the world.

Posted by: revbookburn | September 21, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

none14 wrote: "I have the right to NOT have to serve with people that continue to live a sinful lifestyle."
___________________________

Sorry, you do not that that right. Your charges of "sin" are BS to begin with, and have nothing to do with military service.

Posted by: Manwolf | September 21, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

none14 wrote: "I have the right to NOT have to serve with people that continue to live a sinful lifestyle."
___________________________

Sorry, you do not that that right. Your charges of "sin" are BS to begin with, and have nothing to do with military service.

Posted by: Manwolf | September 21, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

all we want is end wars and the traumatic horrors it provokes
The pitch to send more young 'meat' to death
in the name of 'human rights'
is unbearable to watch...
she is not the culprit
her 'managers' are.
whipping generals for peace a better part?
just an idea..

Posted by: manittou | September 21, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

all we want is end wars and the traumatic horrors it provokes
The pitch to send more young 'meat' to death
in the name of 'human rights'
is unbearable to watch...
she is not the culprit
her 'managers' are.

Posted by: manittou | September 21, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Lady Gaga looks like Marilyn Manson in some of those AP still photos.

Posted by: gmfletcher12 | September 22, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I agree that her analogy wasn't perfectly coherent but it's a step up from some of the insane and unfathomable statement I've heard from US politicians in recent years.

A few notes on her speech:
http://rulehibernia.com/2010/09/going-gaga-over-gay-rights/

Posted by: MarcusAureliusIrl | September 22, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

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