Lady Gaga’s never been one to shy away from boundary-pushing attention, never more so than with the promotion of her latest album, ARTPOP. She’s done The Muppets, R. Kelly and now she’s literally baring all on the cover of Candy, “the first transversal style magazine” and the same one that James Franco and Jared Leto went drag for. I’m loving the Salvador Dali and Freddy Mercury undertones and it’s refreshing to see a not-so-manicured bush getting a mainstream airing, so to speak.
Lady Gaga and Julian Assange are two of the most recognisable names and faces in the world, so it was inevitable that someone would conceive a musical about the two.
And that someone is William Hannagan, the writer and co-director of Kin Collaborative’s MUD Festival entry, Gaga & Assange, a what-if reimagining of their meeting at Assange’s current home at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London last year. Hannagan describes Gaga & Assange as “a hypothetical romp with songs of epic pure pop proportions,” and it certainly was.
I thought Gaga & Assange was going to be a lot darker from the “leaked” trailer and premise of sex tapes and STIs, but I was pleasantly surprised by the campiness and outright hilarity of the show. Laura Raiti is the second coming of Gaga, not only physically embodying Mother Monster but tapping into her speech patterns, inflections and mannerisms (I would have liked to see some more paws up, though). And Chris Runciman is a convincing Assange, making an odd and unlikable (from my point of view) man a plausible love interest for Gaga.
The audience could see the themes of hypocrisy, fame and pretension both in the script and the music, composed by Jeremy Russo, which was brilliantly original and would not be out of place on an actual Lady Gaga album. Essentially, Gaga & Assange dealt with the fame and artifice of both figures; Assange may be perceived as the more “serious” of the two, but they both espouse messages of transparency whilst hiding behind embassies and prosthetics, claim to be “freaks” (“I was thrown in the trash!” as a child, Gaga cries) and are slaves to their respective brands.
I will admit the show gets a bit tedious towards the end, going a smidgen too long in my opinion, but on the whole it’s a riotous musical that hits Gaga and Assange’s public personas on the head whilst wondering what goes on under the surface.
Tickets are only available for this afternoon’s 2pm matinee at Melbourne University’s Guild Theatre via TryBooking. Full $16, concession $11.
Short and sweet this week.
Rape as a plot device. I’m reading Stephen King’s Under the Dome at the moment, in preparation to delve into the series which Clementine Ford cites in her article, and let me tell you, it is rife with unnecessary and gratuitous rape and violence against women. Even the characters’ inner monologues reek of misogyny. It should be interesting to see if the TV show is as heavily drenched in it as the print version. Judging by Ford’s article, it is. [Daily Life]
The racial politics of Beyonce’s hair. [Daily Beast]
Lady Gaga and cultural appropriation. [Jezebel]
Furthermore, Monteith as Finn Hudson embodied the fear of failure and being stuck in a small town with little to no prospects. Drawing on his real-life experiences, perhaps? [The Atlantic]
Got daddy issues? The ultimate TV father/lovers. [Daily Life]
I went to a Lady Gaga variety fundraising night and wrote about it for TheatrePress.
Homosexuality in hip hop. [The Guardian]
The Pixar Theory: why Brave, Toy Story, Monsters Inc. et al are all linked together as part of the same story as opposed to different ones. The mind boggles. [Jon Negroni]
The underlying religious messages in Man of Steel. [EW Pop Watch]
Image via Mirror.
Do you keep a “list”? You know the one… [Jezebel]
For the perils of Disney princesses; let’s examine the damaging notion of the Disney Prince. [allisms]
How about instead of responding to rape culture with the view that women should be more careful, what can men do to make our society safer from sexual violence? [Wronging Rights]
Gender disparity and front page news. [The King’s Tribune]
In defence of Girls’ “ugly sex”. [Daily Life]
Dissecting Beyonce’s interview with GQ in which she admonishes the gender pay gap and the fact that men determine what’s feminine and sexy, but is posing in a decidedly male-gazey, feminine and sexual way on its cover. Hmm… [Daily Life]
Are you sick of the lack of books published and reviewed by women? Then enter the Australian Women Writers Challenge in a bid to make a difference.
Well here’s a convoluted catfight between Kelly Osbourne and Lady Gaga: Gaga’s Little Monsters have apparently been cyberbullying Kelly, which she mentioned in an interview, which prompted Gaga to write an open letter to Kelly. Then Sharon Osbourne got involved… [LittleMonsters, Facebook]
Image via E! Online.
Until I read this profile by a reporter who spent a day with the Here Comes Honey Boo Boo clan, I thought the show was exploiting a low-socioeconomic family who didn’t know any better. Turns out they’re not as dumb nor famehungry as they are portrayed. [Gawker]
Why we love Law & Order: SVU. [Jezebel]
In defence of being ugly. [MamaMia]
Society’s paranoia about male intimacy. [Daily Life]
He who so sanctimoniously surmised that abortion is bad, even in the case of rape, which is unfortunate but, still, “everything happens for a reason”—Justin Bieber—is the subject of an article about how his mother was a drug-addicted teen who found herself pregnant but decided to have the kid who would turn out to be him and therefore grant a whole generation of tweens such important musical feats as “Baby” and “Eenie Meenie” instead of abort him. [Jezebel]
Kate Middleton’s boobs as public property. [The Guardian]
Uh-oh. Only four months after Vogue debuted its “health initiative” pledge to not “knowingly hire models under the age of 16”, the Chinese and Japanese editions will publish spreads featuring two well-known underage models. [Jezebel]
The End of Men versus the success of Girls. [The Atlantic]
Image via Jaykhsar.
Germaine Greer is an Aussie feminist icon who’s kind of passed me by. After the whole “Julia Gillard has a fat arse” debacle earlier in the year, I officially declared her irrelevant to a friend when the opportunity to buy a book of hers came up.
Nonetheless, I attended her talk at the Melbourne Writers Festival, hosted by Germaine’s new bestie Benjamin Law, whom she met at that infamous episode of Q&A, in the hopes that she would address some of those issues in more depth.
I wasn’t wrong, but instead of Greer herself admitting she was, she dug a deeper hole for herself, both at the session and on 60 Minutes the week prior, where she was interviewed in relation to Samantha Brick’s months-ago comments that women find her threatening because she’s beautiful and she enjoys being a “trophy-wife” to her chauvinistic French husband.
Sometimes I just wish public figures would admit it when they’ve said the wrong thing, instead of trying to justify or cover it up (Todd Akin, I’m looking at you). Where Germaine could have taken the opportunity to own up to speaking out of turn about Julia Gillard’s appearance, a snarky phenomenon that most women—and, indeed, most feminists—succumb to at some stage or another, and use it to start a dialogue about how we treat female politicians based on their looks and not their policies, she just said “women have fat asses” and “a woman is not her jacket”. Greer’s a smart woman, no doubt, but I think she needs to think more before she speaks, as her comments on cosmetic surgery, genital mutilation and the morning after pill on Q&A will attest.
However, Germaine did make some good points about her past, present, our ecological future, and “what turned her into a feminist” (a question I was asked at the work watercooler a few weeks ago when I revealed I write about gender studies and feminism. That co-worker is so misogynistic he now avoids me. One less woman-hater I have to make nice with on a daily basis: score!), citing her work on the 1974 university porn magazine she helped create, Screw. After concluding that the name “screw” was too “sadistic” and implied that a woman was “ruined” after she’d been “screwed”, they changed the name to Suck, which connotes a more female-friendly vibe.
Germaine talked about her willingness to get her gear off for the magazine in an effort to portray women differently in porn magazines. She was offered money to pose for Playboy and she insisted her pose be standing with her body away from the camera, bent over, and looking at the photographer through her legs, her vagina and anus on show. They rejected the image, obviously, which turned up in Suck, an alternate copy of which someone in the audience had brought along!
She also had some interesting things about our definition of consent and SlutWalk to say and, to my surprise, they weren’t out of step with current feminist notions of the two. She championed women who take their rapists to court and show their faces to the public to lend support to the wider anti-slut-shaming movement.
Those who still follow Greer’s work know that she now leans towards writing about Australian culture and the environment as opposed to being the authority on all things feminism (see abovementioned irrelevance), and she concluded with a conversation with an audience member, who probed her in overtime about recognising the similarities between feminism and vegan-/vegetarianism. Indeed, feminism these days is about human rights, and most people I know who are for feminism are for human rights, animal rights and practice vegetarianism. I, myself, am a budding ecotarian.
These days, Germaine Greer is someone to be hated, feared or admired, as Law contended in his introduction of the great Australian thinker. While these women don’t necessarily practice feminist acts or even call themselves feminists, Madonna and Lady Gaga are two iconic females Greer mentioned during her sermon. They’re also two icons who polarise almost as much as Greer. I don’t think she’s that different to them, really… They’re all outspoken, brash females who have undoubtedly contributed so much to the plight of women, and culture as a whole, some more recently than others.
Related: Should Meat Be Off the Menu?