The Tattoo Was the Signifier

oscars-lady-gaga_3208665cIn the Oscars aftermath, a friend writes:

Still hoping to find a web or press contributor someplace that touches more on the monumental weirdness of the Gaga / ‘Sound of Music’ mash-up. The movie musical itself was somehow almost kitsch from the beginning (not its own fault really either, the 60′s had changed the whole musical landscape underneath it, on the fly)(and before that, I don’t think ever regarded as one of Oscar & Hammerstein’s best) and lately sort of treated that way, with akin-to-’Rocky Horror’ singalongs, etc. (Meanwhile, last year the Academy was moved to make absolutely zip mention of the 50th anniversary of the film of ‘My Fair Lady’, a rather more substantial effort, if a slightly less popular one.)

And then there’s Lady Gaga, whose presentation, anyway, used to be toward the artier WTF end of the spectrum. Whither edification, coolness, irony in all of this? My jaw was dropped the whole time so I may’ve missed any buried signifiers. And then the whole thing was knocked into fourth-dimensional preposterousness by having Julie Andrews come out to thank her for it. With¬†profound¬†sincerity. Of course.¬†Congratulations, Academy. I have absolutely no idea what you’re trying to do.

Gaga moved into the irony-free zone when she sidled up for a Tony Bennett duet project that’s still touring and playing the PBS circuit. Still adamant to prove she has a voice under all that weirdness, she dropped the winks for Tony’s sake, who maybe wouldn’t have been able to tell what was a joke or wasn’t (he did don hip-hop gear at the MTV Video Awards once).

“Sound of Music” has taken its place as one of the most beloved musicals; it did significantly better as a live TV NBC event than the “Peter Pan” did. Its 50th might have deserved a salute somewhere, on its own variety show somewhere, maybe; but not at the Grammys and not at 11:45 or whenever it was. Sure it was an improvement over the producers’ self-serving salute to its own “Chicago” a couple of years back, but in an event where they’re cutting Joan Rivers and others from the “In Memoriam” section to save time, it didn’t have a place. And if it did, why not show some clips from it if it’s so great? It was a weird show because it relied so little on the thing they were there to supposedly celebrate: motion picture making. So no clips in the “In Memoriam,” chopped up clips when reading the nominees; no clips at all when saluting “Sound of Music.”

The way kept flaunting Lady Gaga as “coming right up” before every commercial break, to hook those nonexistent kids, was their attempt to capture youthful relevance. But following the flop of Gaga’s last album, that meat dress has already rot.

This entry was posted in Mailbag. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.