In addition to Kanye West's performance of the new song "Runaway," one more morsel from Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards seems worthy of comment: button-pushing dance-pop diva Lady Gaga and her instantly infamous "meat dress."
Yes, I was deeply offended by Gaga's outfit: As a committed meatatarian, it truly hurts me that she wasted all of that tasty beef when there are so many Webers worldwide that have no meat to grill.
My pain was only somewhat mitigated by this article in the Daily News, which dispatched two reporters to interview New York butchers, discovering that the meat was not of the highest quality, a la what you'd find at my idea of heaven on earth, Chicago's Paulina Meat Market. Said one: "There are no expensive cuts here, no real steaks." Added another: "It's the cheaper end cuts"¦ you got about $100 of meat there."
Predictably, others were offended for the exact opposite reasons.
"After time spent under the TV lights, it would smell like the rotting flesh that it is and likely be crawling in maggots," PETA said in a statement, in addition to crowing (no animals were hurt in the use of that verb) on its blog that, "Eminem refused to sit next to Lady Gaga"¦ because her decomposing flesh dress stank." (And really, how offensive must one be to unsettle that despicable sexist homophobe Marshall Mathers?)
Mind you, this wasn't the first time that PETA objected to a Gaga publicity stunt; nor was it the first time that Gaga wore a meat dress. When the pop provocateur appeared on the cover of a foreign edition of Vogue in what's been called "a meat bikini," PETA's top animal activist Ingrid Newkirk declared, "No matter how beautifully it is presented, flesh from a tortured animal is flesh from a tortured animal. Meat represents bloody violence and suffering, so if that's the look they were going for, they achieved it."
For her part, Gaga explained her motives and symbolism -- which hardly were difficult to figure out -- to self-described "lesbian, Aquarian vegetarian" Ellen DeGeneres as follows: "It is certainly no disrespect to anyone that is vegan or vegetarian. As you know, I am the most judgment-free human being on the earth. However, it has many interpretations, but for me this evening"¦ if we don't stand up for what we believe in and if we don't fight for our rights, pretty soon we're going to have as much rights as the meat on our own bones. And I am not a piece of meat."
I really don't want to heap on Gaga in this time of turmoil; in addition to the meat beating, she's in the midst of being thoroughly trashed by that post-feminist controversy-loving publicity hound"... er, I'm sorry, make that academic firebrand"... Camille Pagilia in the Sunday Times of London for no less a sin than helping to instigate "the death of sex."
(And no, I'm not kidding. "In place of Madonna's valiant life force, what we find in Gaga is a disturbing trend towards mutilation and death," Paglia writes. Another of her complaints, you see, is that Gaga shamelessly rips off ol' Maddy, a prime heroine for Camille, who's really showing her age here in terms of losing touch with the cutting edge of pop provocation, as well as reminding us that she never did understand that Madonna herself ripped off just about everything she ever did from lesser known underground/avant-garde artists, and with a lot less credit than Gaga gives to Mama Ciccone.)
Anyway, the occasional, inevitable missteps aside, I continue to find Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta a pretty damn entertaining presence on the pop scene, churning out delightfully sugary grooves and indulging in mostly endearing antics designed to underscore the fundamental message of all great rock 'n' roll: Express yourself, make a joyful noise, and fly your freak flag high! But this meat thing"...
Let me just say that real artists -- genuinely talented musicians, people who really could play their instruments and compose brilliant songs that stand the test of time, in addition to contributing substantive, important ideas to the worlds of politics, culture, and art -- well, those kinds of true talents never, ever would stoop to a cheap stunt like this meat dress business. No way, no how. Right?