by Jasmine Carter
Who inspires you and why? Have you ever thought about that? Or even better, have you ever thought about why you believe someone is not an inspiration? Quit frequently, we consider people with different beliefs as un-inspirational. We focus on the dissimilarities instead of their actions or even their heart. Sometimes we are blinded by our own opinions that we miss some valuable inspiration.
What people need to understand is the sincerity in true inspirational figures. The amazing thing about true inspirational figures is that they can inspire you without changing you. They simply motivate you to continue being you and challenge you to better yourself and better the world.
But nowadays, “inspirational figures” seem to be doing exactly what the media wants them to do. They appear cliché. It is rare to see a unique inspiration. Having bold confidence in oneself is a characteristic of a unique inspiration. To clarify, unique means, very special or unusual, and an inspiration is a person, place, or experience, that makes someone want to do or create something. And often times, it is that bold confidence in a person that we stray from, shun, or even despise. In thinking of a unique inspiration, imagine someone being praised for doing something besides being perfect or great or glamorous, all the time. Imagine someone bizarre. Actually, think back. This may be that un-inspirational figure you thought of earlier.
Lady Gaga is undoubtedly a figure of inspiration. Let us explore her life to identify if she is true inspiration, and or if she is a unique inspiration.
Lady Gaga was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta in New York City, New York, to Cynthia and Joseph Germanotta. Her parents were both very loving and hard-working. Although she was raised on the affluent side of New York, both of her parents came from lower-class families. Nothing came easy and they worked long hours for all they had. While Lady Gaga was growing up, her mom worked in telecommunications at Verizon. Her father worked as an Internet entrepreneur, starting and ultimately owning a company that installs WiFi in hotel chains. Her immediate family was complete with one younger sister, Natali Veronica Germanotta. It is prevalent that Natali shares Gaga’s creativity as she is a fashion student.
She was born into a strict Catholic household. In fact, she attended a Roman Catholic all-girls school, Convent of the Sacred Heart, in Manhattan. In a Star Tribune interview, she personally described her academic life in high school as “very dedicated, very studious, [and] very disciplined (Bream).” But she also admitted that she was a “bad-ass”, stating “I was the kind of girl who didn’t have to listen in class, but would always ace the test (Bream).” She continued to be a dedicated bad-ass even after she left the all-girls school. After being encouraged by her mom, Lady Gaga began to study music at Collaborative Arts Project. She was one of only 20 students in the world to receive the honor of early acceptance. However, her time at the Collaborative Arts Project was short. She studied there for two years before dropping out to manage her own career.
Lady Gaga is an inspiration to many, maybe not in the way she dresses but definitely in the confidence behind it. From her meaningful music to her complete support of others choices, she exemplifies a unique inspiration by doing what she wants and supporting who she wants without concern of negative media response. In this article I will discuss Lady Gaga as a unique inspiration and praise her for being true to herself and encouraging others to do the same.
Fashion is her facade. While everyone is caught up in the countless flamboyant outfits, they continuously fail to see within, beyond, or even underneath the clothing; they miss the purpose. In 2010, Lady Gaga appeared at the Video Music Awards wearing a red meat dress. She received much criticism and was called “disrespectful”. But disrespecting animals was not at all the purpose of her dress. Interestingly enough, she is a vegan. Her dress had nothing to do with eating meat; it was about being meat. In an interview with Ellen Degeneres, Lady Gaga revealed the true story behind the hearty outfit. She states, “As you know, I’m the most judgment-free human being on the Earth. It has many interpretations, but for me this evening it’s [saying], ‘If we don’t stand up for what we believe in, if we don’t fight for our rights, pretty soon we’re going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones’. (Mapes)” Wearing a meat dress… now that is bold! Wearing a meat dress to fight for human rights… that is a unique inspiration.
Next to her interesting outfits, music is a part of the “madness” in which people criticize her. Music is her muse. She is inspired and intends to inspire others through her music. But once again, many people are so caught up by the simple words they disagree with, or the controversial characters she uses, and the “scandalous” music videos that they miss the bigger picture. A popular song in which she received major criticism over was Judas. “Judas” was released in 2011 and was a part of her second studio album, Born This Way. As seen in the title, she speaks of Judas, the biblical character. Lady Gaga was born into a strict Catholic home, their should be no surprise that she implements the knowledge that was implanted in her throughout her life. In this song she cleverly uses Judas as a comparison and a symbol of a bad guy in her life. During an interview with the popular radio personal, Elvis Duran, Gaga stated that the song is about “always falling in love with the wrong men”. But the love story did not matter to a lot of people. They could not see past the various appearances of biblical references. A few key lines that show this are: “I’ll wash his feet with my hair if he needs. Forgive him when his tongue lies through his brain. Even after three times he betrays me. […] Jesus is my virtue and Judas is the demon I cling to.” Much like these three lines, the song is very straightforward. She proclaims Jesus as her virtue but still receives negative feedback from religious groups over this song.
In that same interview with Elvis Duran, she says, “”It’s no surprise, I’m sure, to many of you, that Judas is a man of the biblical senses, so expect to see some symbolism in this video […] You have to look into what is haunting you and you need to look into forgiving yourself in order to move on.” She uses her religious background and knowledge within this song to speak of a negative figure. She directly discusses this figure and names him Judas, knowing he is a well-known bad guy. And people did indeed know exactly who she was referring to, but many felt it was “inappropriate”. But her videos and songs are real and raw. Lady Gaga has bold confidence. She doesn’t hold anything back, and she shouldn’t. Her music inspires to do great and be great. It would be a dishonor to sugar coat and halfway show the greatness and sincerity of her work.
Because of the gaudiness of a lot of her music videos, people often quickly categorize her music as crazy or even meaningless. But her music is far from meaningless. She spreads love, takes a stand on what she believes, and even shares stories throughout her songs. Recently, Lady Gaga performed her nominated song “Til It Happens To You”, at the Oscars. This song was written about and sung to inspire rape victims. And in this very performance, Lady Gaga admitted to her grandma and one of her favorite aunts that she herself is a victim of rape. This moving performance dramatically ended with a group of sexual assault survivors surrounding Gaga at a piano.
In understanding Lady Gaga’s heart, it should come to no surprise that she has started a non-profit organization intended to empower youth. Yes youth, not gay youth, not girl youth, but all youth. Born This Way, which is also the title of an uplifting song written and sang by Gaga, is one of her most inspirational deeds. The mission statement of this non-profit reads, “Born this way foundation is committed to supporting the wellness of young people, and empowering them to create a kinder and braver world. We achieve this by shinning a light on real people, quality research and authentic partnerships (Born this way foundation).” Although this is the mission statement for her organization, I truly believe it can be read as the mission statement of her life; because that is who she is and what she believes in. She cares for others, and she cares about other people caring for others. Within the music, the fashion, and the performances, she inserts these little characteristics of herself in which people overlook. She is a figure worthy to be admired.
In analyzing her music’s impact and her dynamic fashion statements, Lady Gaga can be compared to the pop legend singer, Madonna. Each one of these talented female vocalists have attained their heights of glory in their own individualistic ways. Many critics have pointed out how “Born This Way” borrows its melodies from Madonna’s hit “Express Yourself (Madonna).” Their early lives are pretty similar as well. Just like Gaga, Madonna was born and raised in a strict Catholic household. She was a straight-A student and graduated from high school a semester earlier than her friends, in hopes to quickly begin her music/dance career. And just as Gaga strategically incorporates her religious background throughout her work, so does Madonna. In fact, she uses “many elements of Catholic iconography—including her mother’s statues of the Sacred Heart, the habits of the nuns at her Catholic elementary school, and the Catholic altar at which she and her family prayed daily—later became the subject of Madonna’s most controversial works (Madonna).” How ironic it is that she is noted as “controversial” by simply using key figures from her childhood in her music career.
During the time, when Madonna made an entry into the music industry, it was not the time for fashion and conventional views. Yet, Madonna left a massive impact on not only the industry, but also on the audience through her meaningful music. Madonna is known for her constant reinvention as a performer. Madonna might not have been considered to be the finest singer, still her fearless career as a musical artist makes her one of the best. Lady Gaga and Madonna are both unique inspirational figures. They both set trends, with a love of unique and flamboyant clothing. And they are both not afraid to throw their sexuality in people’s faces.
Lady Gaga is a unique inspiration. She is different in her presentation but pure in heart. She challenges the role of an inspirational figure and that is why she is unique. Her talent combined with passion, combined with life story builds her significant character. For those who judge her, make sure you know her. But I will continue to praise her for being exactly who she is.
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Bream, Jon. “Don’t Gag on Gaga.” Star Tribune. 21 Mar. 2009. Web. 24 Mar. 2016.
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Mapes, Jillian. “Lady Gaga Explains Her Meat Dress: ‘It’s No Disrespect'” Billboard. Web. 27 Mar. 2016.
Michael, Levy. “Lady Gaga.” Britannica Biographies (2012): 1. History Reference Center. Web. 24 Mar. 2016.
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