Friday, September 14, 2012

Symbolic Stupidity

I’m an informal type of guy. Jeans and T-shirts are my favorite. I hate formal functions. Oddly, though, I find myself repeatedly arguing for formality in certain areas, especially manners. So here is the new one: education. We need more formality; more classicality; because, I will me honest with you, I can’t take any more ridiculous attempts at “statements” or “symbolism.”
A few years ago, I was watching a show on TV about a tattoo parlor. Tattoos are not my thing -- not unless they have real meaning. I respect the talent of good tattoo artists, but the only way I would permanently put a picture on my body is if it meant something big. Like, I understand getting a tattoo if all of the people you fought with in Afghanistan got the same one. I dig why people get portraits of departed loved ones. That works.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m also cool with someone getting a tattoo because they like the aesthetic -- no meaning; just making one’s self look the way one wants. That’s fine, too.
But, in this tattoo show, a bunch of people would come in and utter something like: “I want to get a tattoo of a tarantula, because I have been through a lot of change and the tarantula represents that.”
HOW, exactly, does the tarantula represent change? Drives me nuts. If people understood symbolism (the kind that we underfed English teachers wearily explain daily in class) they would be miraculously saved from meaningless, permanent tattooification. There is no one who looks dumber than some dimwit on a reality show prancing around with a toothless smile and showing people his symbolic body art: “Yeah – so , I got the chinchilla, because it represents the fact that I finally became a certified accountant.”
Maybe she got the idea from Yorick.
Then, today, I stumble across an article about the queen of empty-headed, pseudo-bohemian,  sub-simian intellectuality, Lady Gaga; she of the deeply-symbolic meat dress -- you know, the one she wore to protest the ban on openly gay people in the military. Which, you know, makes total sense…meat dress…gay military personnel…dress…a clear reference to…uh, because raw meat is sometimes cooked in mess halls…and, gay soldiers…won’t get to eat the raw meat when it is finally…cooked?
I get it – why don’t you? (If you ever get a chance, check out the video of Gaga explaining the meat dress logic to Ellen Degeneres. I can’t find it -- but I do remember her explanation being, not surprisingly, nebulous and evasive. What it amounts to is that she though it woud be cool to wear a meat dress, so she tagged a "meaning" onto it. Instant hero! -- who smells faintly of A1 sauce?)
Now, she’s at it again. Another “statement” was made when a friend of hers lost his mother. With her usual impeccable logic and insight in to poetic connections between life’s tragedies and the essence of the human spirit, Lady Gaga has shaved her head. In support of her grieving friend. Well, part of it anyway. The back.  She shaved some of the back. For him. For his departed mother.
Touching, don’t you think? Sweet.  I’m thinking of clipping my nails in honor of my dead grandmother. Well, maybe I'll just file them a little. On one hand.
And for anyone who is mad at me because I’m being insensitive…come on. How would you react if your friend shaved the back of his head for you? If the average Joe did it, it would be met with an “Oooh…kaaay…” Lady Gaga does it and she is endeared to the world by her quirkiness and everyone is touched by her deeply symbolic message. "Edgy," that's what she is. Gack.
My thing is…I don’t argue about quantum mechanics with Nobel Prize winners in the field. I’m not saying we should be elitists -- Gaga can’t help it if she is a person of average intelligence and education in a position where lots of both would be helpful. I just think we should just all be careful when we plod into worlds into which our education hasn’t cut a path.  She should just quit it. It’s silly. She’s silly. It’s just embarrassing to watch.  A little more education -- or, at least, a little more attention in Mr. Dinklehoover's sophomore English class -- would have nipped this pretentious flowering of foolery in the bud.
And no more tattoos of willow trees as symbols for your buddy Phil who became a ballet dancer at fifty and tragically died as a result of a swan-lake-leap gone awry. It must end. Instead, try something like a pair of ballet slippers dripping with blood.


  1. ...not to mention that she wears wigs half the time.

  2. Gaga, as she implies in her choice of name, is not meant to express ideas - her talent lies in the production of very good pop songs. Surely you cannot argue that her music does not succeed on its own terms. The rest is irrelevant, merely PR designed to draw attention to the central thing - her work. But yes, PR is usually vacuous and annoying and to be avoided

    1. It's funny, Z -- I actually mentioned in my link that I put on Facebook that she's not bad, in terms of pop music. Now, that said, she is certainly nothing really special, musically, either. She's just okay. You're right -- it succeeds on it's own terms. I always think of old Elton John in comparison to her. He managed to be just as flamboyant, without -- at least for me -- feeling so insincere. And, in the end, any three notes on, say, Tumbleweed Connection is worth Gaga's entire catalogue, for my money.