Gagamania: what lies behind it?

Andile Ndlovu

CALL it satanic, call it celebrity worship disorder, or even a substitute for conventional relationships, but there may be another reason for the hysterical scenes witnessed at Lady Gaga’s arrival in the country on Tuesday (27/11/2012).

Throngs of fans turned up at Lanseria Airport and at the sight of her many shrieked in excitement, others bellowed with disappointment at missing a chance to show the star their tattoos of her, while others simply wept uncontrollably.

It was delirium rarely seen around too many international (let alone South African) celebrities who have visited the country in recent times.

University of Johannesburg lecturer Dr Prevan Moodley said yesterday perhaps the Born This Way singer’s ability to “challenge our stereotypes and lifestyles” was behind her cult following.

Moodley said: “I think many fans may connect with the emotional sense of difference, of being a ‘minority’ and with this representation of Lady Gaga.”

This was especially so with her album Born This Way (with the title track’s self-affirmation message), in which she sought to put her maternal arm around her “Little Monsters”, who might have come up against societal resistance.

One Little Monster, Kyle Carson, explained why he felt so protective of Mother Monster: “She has pushed more boundaries than any other artist of our time. She is also a proud supporter of gay rights – which goes a long way in my books in showing the calibre of human she is.

“I also love her eccentricity and creative views – which are somewhat left of centre.”

Nafeesa Jooma, who met Gaga on Tuesday night at the airport and handed the singer a 250-page thesis she submitted on her for a Masters degree in media studies at Wits University, agreed with Carson’s views.

She said: “I’ve loved her since the release of her second album [Born This Way], when I noticed her positive message and her originality as an artist and also her fearlessness in who she was as a person”.

She added: “Besides this, she’s also a real, compassionate person who understands love and identity in a profound and alternative way.

“And in a way that appeals to people who see and discover the world in their own way, and not a way they are taught to.”

Jooma said she just wanted to hug and thank Gaga “for making us feel special … because she’s brought joy to us too”.

Moodley also added: “Adolescents, in their search for identities and their places in the world, experiment and play with different images and ideas.

“People like Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Lady Gaga have always represented figures who challenge the way we live in the world, who challenge stereotypes, who challenge and break down sexism, homophobia and other prejudice that prevents us from living in a way that will respect people who are different.”

The South African leg of Gaga’s Born This Way Ball Tour begins in Johannesburg tomorrow night.

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