Adam Lambert, Annie Oakley, Cyndi Lauper, eccentricity, individuality, Lady GaGa, lemmings, Liberace, Mae West, personality
Let me say right at the beginning, that what I know about Lady GaGa, or more specifically Stephani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, you could put on the head of a pin with room to spare. All I know is that she is a singer/songwriter, a celeb of major proportions, and she sounds a lot like an Italian Jersey Girl.
I’ve seen the gal here and there, snapshots really, of her appearances at various affairs where a person of her station would be. Beyond that I am clueless.
Until this morning when she appeared on GMA. She was there in tandem with Cyndi Lauper, a singer more of my generation, and one whom I have always liked and in some sense admired.
The ladies were there to promote AIDS awareness for women. As usual women often are neglected in these things, witness how long it took the medical community to even think about women’s heart health. In any case, both women acquitted themselves well, and were thoughtful and clearly rather bright individuals. This I knew about Ms. Lauper, but it was new information regarding Ms. GaGa.
It struck me that we do allow a fair amount of eccentricity in our creative artists, whether they be singers or painters, actors or poets. We fairly expect it, since out of their brains come worlds that are often mystical and well, other worldly. Witness if you will Salvador Dali’s work, or that of Andy Worhol.
If we look back to times earlier, we have the fine examples of Mae West, and Liberace, Annie Oakley perhaps. People who refused to accept a mold, who found being like everyone else abhorrent in some real sense.
And that seems to be the real indicator of true eccentricity–the desire, or more correctly, the compulsion to stand out as “different.” This must be done at all cost, even if everyone turns away in laughter or horror. There is a self-confident pursuit of being “as is” to the public at large, along with I would argue, a fair amount of ambition to be KNOWN.
I find something refreshing in all this. I think that perhaps is why we uphold these “misfits” and adore then even when we might personally find their behavior not one we would want to emulate. We are touched and feel a perhaps unconscious guilt at our own tendency to be a lemming.
And make no mistake, most of us are lemmings. Oh sure, we may be radically liberal versus extremely conservative, but we are identifying to a group. We are not standing alone. We are not naked before a world that loves to criticize and pick apart the rich and famous–or should one say infamous.
A good deal of the package is meant to startle and get your attention surely. I’m sure Lady GaGa doesn’t wear the outlandish costumes we see her in at home when she is curled up before the TV. The creative spirit normally wants attention–that’s why they play to the public arena whether it be a sculptor, a composer, or the actor. But the flamboyancy is real–it is part of the “this is who I am and if you don’t like it, tough” statement that challenges people to choose sides.
It seems to me that the people behind all the glitter and sequins, the outlandish hairstyles and Cleopatra type makeup, evidence a mind of some consequence. For when they speak, very often, wisdom comes forth. They turn out to be thoughtful, inquisitive, discerning minds capable of reading and thinking and coming to logical conclusions.
I’m reminded that my boy Adam Lambert is one such. He is fast becoming his “own” persona, unapologetic to those who don’t like this “in your face” gay man. Yet Lambert seems to understand himself and what is happening to him. I doubt that he will end up broke and vilified having been taken in by unscrupulous “handlers” such as Fantasia complains about. That woman was in no way prepared for the world she so suddenly entered by winning American Idol some years ago. But then, no one has accused Fantasia of being an eccentric.
Yet what we laud and applaud in our creative artists, we deplore and turn away in shock from in our political leaders and others we trust with care of our needs. No doctor or dentist, no therapist, accountant, lawyer, no one trusted with our welfare better show up in sequined jackets and bling. No, we want them looking properly conservative, and all about business.
We allow some eccentricity in scientists, mostly because we don’t really understand their world and it seems all fairly weird in and of itself. Talk about quantum mechanics and string theory and up and down quarks for long, and heck, you too would expect the scientist to be more along the lines of Dr. Frankenstein.
In fact, it seems we allow a fair amount of it to permeate all academia, as long as it stays clear of those who veer into the above categories of doctor/lawyer that we depend on so dearly at times.
I suppose I have no particular concerns if my plumber shows up wearing a tutu because he likes to cross dress as a ballerina. I don’t worry that he can’t fix the leak.
Similarly I don’t think I care if my mail carrier has orange hair and tats covering every available skin surface that I can see. I may ponder erotically what is on the hidden areas, but I don’t demand a “regular” post-person to drop off my mail.
Why do we attribute such frivolousness to the law maker who is flamboyantly a Tammy Faye Baker, when we make no such assumption about the master shot maker Annie Oakley? Why is one authentic and the other scary and untrustworthy?
I as usual have no answer, I just noticed the difference, and well, felt duty bound to share it with you.