Good luck trying to comprehend the success Lady GaGa has garnered over the past couple of years. Sure, the New York City native has become a media darling who enjoys the full support of both a massive record label (Interscope/UMG) and an impassioned Far Left base, whom she unwaveringly champions, that has coronated her as the newest co-Queen of pop music alongside Britney Spears and Madonna. Yet for all her self-exploitive chicanery -- the infamous "meat dress" comes to mind -- I find myself struggling to grasp the scope of her relentless and seemingly unlimited mass appeal. And as luck would have it, I am in good company:
"Why does Lady GaGa provoke so many questions in me? How can she be so fascinating while being so utterly boring? Why is she so famous? How is it possible that I can hear a ringtone of 'Poker Face' during the intermission of a classical piano concert at Carnegie Hall one week and the same song blaring from a decrepit radio in a tin-roof fruit stand in the cloud forest of Costa Rica the next?
"How has she become as recognized and as global as the American dollar? How can she mean so little and so much to so many? And how does she contain so many contradictions that seem to pass unnoticed by both her high-art sycophants and her mass audience? For example: How has she become a sex symbol when she has no tits and no ass? How can she be called a musical pioneer when she produces the blandest and most forgettable music, not just of our time but perhaps of all time?
"Aren't her fifteen minutes up yet?"
-- from the opening to "Lady GaGa: Fifty-Nine Questions" by Stephen Marche; Esquire, May 2011