Sunday, February 20, 2011

Recycling as art: Lady Gaga, Colbert, Waste...

WARNING: Skimpy outfits, mild use of bad words, irony, sexually suggestive dancing!

Recycling in Search of Strong Women
Wisdom Quarterly
We sure do love Lady Gaga. Maybe it's because she seems like a strong woman, and they are in short supply. Unfortunately, it seems like a case of false bravado as with Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, and other right-wing starlets. There aren't enough Chelsea Handlers, Wanda Sykes, Ariana Huffingtons, Hillarys, or Amy Goodmans. So we're stuck resorting to music for role models on how to be strong. Fortunately, they keep recycling through the dance hits, raps, and R&B themes. It may not be fresh, but it's reliable. Kwan Yin, Tara, Prajapati Gotami, the female arhats, Khema, and Uppalavanna are of course better role models, but they aren't in the media very often. Lady Gaga and others (Ke$ha, Christina Eagle, Britney, Cher, Paris, and Lindsay) are. Is there a media conspiracy to dumb down our distractions, or is it the cosmetics industry trying to convince us that women's only value is beauty, sexuality, and/or acting like a lesbian? It's a great media wasteland where trash and mash ups make the best art. We might as well have fun with it, like our comedy hero and heroine Stephen Colbert (of the Colbert Report and the Colbuffington Re-post) and Sarah Silverman, or take a lesson from Brazil.*

WARNING: Mild use of bad words, irony, pseudo aggression, transvestitism, and Sarah stabs a stuffed moose, (No moose were harmed in the making of this parody).

Lady Gaga leaves Britney Spears in the dust but can't trump Flo Rida or the Black Eyed Peas' digital hits. It's the 1,000th hit single since Billboard started the Hot 100 in 1958. Talented Lady Gaga is no "overnight sensation." "Born This Way" is Gaga's third single to top the Hot 100, but it's her first to debut in the top spot. Her breakthrough hit, "Just Dance," took 22 weeks to reach #1. Her follow-up, "Poker Face," took 15 weeks. Surprisingly, "Bad Romance" never reached the top spot. It logged seven weeks at #2. Is she recycling? "Born This Way" owes an obvious debt to a pair of Madonna hits, 1989's "Express Yourself" and 1990's "Vogue." Previous Gaga hits have also echoed Madonna. It's just like "Sarah Palin" raps in their epic battle: "Everything you do is just a rerun of Madonna! Your fans are in a frenzy like a bunch of g*y piranha."

*Brazil's "Waste Land"

Filmed over nearly three years, "Waste Land" was a hit at Sundance 2010 and is poised to take home a best documentary Academy Award. The film follows renowned artist Vik Muniz on a journey from his home base in New York to his native Brazil. His aim is the world's largest landfill, Gramacho Garden, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, to photograph an eclectic band of pickers (catadores) of recyclables. Muniz's initial objective was to "paint" the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves out of waste reveals both dignity and despair as the catadores begin to re-imagine their lives. In the end, Walker offers stirring evidence of the transformative power of art and the alchemy of the human spirit (Almega Projects).

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