Lady GaGa & The Fame Monster

Image: Bang ShowBiz
Image: Bang ShowBiz

Lady GaGa is in the press today talking about fame and therapy. I heard about it listening to Carson Daly on the way to work today on AMP radio. Producer Angie quoted GaGa saying:

“But, the truth is that it is very hard to be famous. It’s wonderful to be famous because I have amazing fans. But it is very, very hard to go out into the world when you are not feeling happy and act like you are because I am a human being too and I break, and I think there is an assumption… that I cannot break because I am an alien woman and I am unstoppable.”

She continued, “I do put that pressure on myself; I have to be high to be creative. I need that, that’s an error in my life that happened for over 10 years. Can I be brilliant without it? I know that I can be and I have to be because I want to live, and I want my fans to want to live.”

Carson Daly, ever the Devil’s Advocate, said “Well, she could just stop and do something else.” And he’s right but he’s also wrong. For me, I’ve always loved performing and entertaining even when it was playing “restaurant” for my family or acting out some skit I made up as a child. Later, my performances became more elaborate and I fell in love with theatre. But those performances (especially the older I got) brought with them a lot of anxiety and pressure. Yes, I know it’s fucking self-imposed, but it’s also the most difficult thing to “just get over” and that’s why people without that anxiety don’t get it.

So for Lady GaGa, there’s probably parts of her that love fame, I’m sure, and parts of her that hate it and have a hard time coping. It’s not just fame, it’s the pressure to perform a certain way, to look a certain way, to put your heart and soul and creation out there for people to judge and rail you for–and rail you for your art, they do. Then the questions of “Did I do the right thing by going commercial or am I just selling crap?’ (GaGa recently said she didn’t know if her music was any good.) The public is so very brutal to anyone and everyone. Whether you’re an avant-garde artist or a pop star, you’re never safe from criticism. And while not all criticism is debilitating, some of it is. If you haven’t faced that type of criticism, you can’t really speak to it. Once you rise to fame, people aren’t always happy for you. You have people despising you just because of the “lucky breaks” you’re getting and they’re not. And then you have all these “new friends” crawling around you, wanting to just be there as you make it. It’s a really weird space to occupy and very few people handle it well. Some, more seasoned actors, seem to handle it with grace and poise…AFTER about fifteen years in the spotlight, and with the help of a team of professional managers. But it takes all that time to really find your place and find out how to tune out the criticism while also engaging with your fans.

In an earlier interview with “Good Morning America,” GaGa says, “I was actually going through a hard time during “Born This Way,” and I was kind of insecure. I became a star really quickly and I didn’t really have time to put my feet in the ground and have a sense of myself through it all because it really is a machine and you just keep going.”

I know the general public doesn’t give a fuck about GaGa or her “pity party” as some of you will call it. When I bring this topic up most people tell me to fuck off and tell stars to fuck off and then complain that I talk about pop culture too much. But, like I said, if you’ve never put yourself or your art into the public before, you really should be the one fucking off. You have no frame of reference to really speak with authority on the challenges of being in the public eye in some manner. And while artists and commercialists choose this, it is the one main method to get our art seen. Art must be seen and heard and engaged with for it to be art.

GaGa went on to talk about drugs and her addiction to weed, that being the vice she used to cope. But how many other stars turned to something more dangerous and didn’t seek out therapy like GaGa? What if the assholes who say ‘Fuck off, GaGa’ admitted that seeing a shrink is a far more positive method of  coping than going full Linsday? And that clearly if you need drugs or a shrink to cope, it is a real, actual problem?

Former child star Mara Wilson talks about the phenomenon and why child stars seem to go crazy and I think she makes a lot of sense. Hopefully reasonable people will understand that fame really is hard to handle and be a tad more sympathetic and less dismissive. So the fuck what if someone decides to make some money selling their art? That doesn’t mean we can’t be a bit sympathetic toward them when they’re suffering.