Yes, I am totally serious. I adore Lady Gaga, I admire her like the blazes, and I won't hear anyone speak ill of her. I can see you sitting there rolling your eyes at me, but stop and listen for a minute, OK?
Lady Gaga is a pop star, and as such, I know a lot of people dismiss her and her work out of hand. Dig deeper, dear reader. She owns the "pop star" thing completely, and her public persona is so completely flamboyant that you might as well consider it a disguise. At the same time, her private life is very much not playing out in front of the cameras. Where Britney, LiLo and a bevy of other young starlets were photographed in clubs and at beaches, drinking and exhibiting more than too much PDA, Lady Gaga retains an air of mystery.
Now that's some fantastic separating of your personal and professional lives. She knows just where she wants that line drawn, and nobody crosses it.
Then there's that public persona itself. Her image is obviously painstakingly crafted so that she's sexy, but not sexually available. She's not the slack-lipped receptacle for desire, she's the one with agency. She pushes the boundaries of sex appeal, always with a hint (or more) of danger, of sharp edges and teeth that bite. It's a far cry from the pop-tart naughty-school-girl trope we've seen play out over the last several years. (And not a moment too soon, if you ask me.)
But I've saved the best and biggest part for last. Why do I love and admire Lady Gaga? It's because of that tea cup, the bubble dress, the masks. Lady Gaga is not afraid of making art for its own sake. She's not concerned somebody will think she's weird or too outré. She's not afraid to dream big.
You hear that? She is NOT AFRAID. That, my friends, is the biggest lesson to learn from Lady Gaga. What would your creative work look like if you entered it with a spirit of complete fearlessness? I'm not there, but I sure hope I find my way before I go.
It helps that I love her music, too.