Whenever I think of Judith Butler and pop culture, I almost always end up at Lady Gaga. Unlike a lot of other mainstream musicians, she intentionally messes with gender in a way that causes a lot of talk. The conversation and criticism she receives for this reminded me of the rigorous social mechanisms used to regulate the body we discussed in class. In the case of Gaga gossip, this discourse is used to reinforce the heterosexual matrix.
For example, when Gaga did this photo shoot for Vogue, many people criticized it for being too androgynous. The same happened in response to her music video for Alejandro.
She has a way of using gender and androgyny to show reveal it as performative, but the criticism she receives for it works to police sex/gender dichotomies by claiming the need for clear boundaries. Even when Gaga does adhere to these boundaries, she’s recently began switching between the two, as we can see with her alter ego Jo.
By switching between Gaga and Jo, though she’s following gender codes, she shows the fluidity of gender and it’s socially constructedness. BUT BUT BUT even when she doesn’t transgress genders or plays the androgyny card, her hyperfeminized presentation becomes a parody of femininity, as if she were a drag queen.
It’s fascinating how in the many manifestations of Gaga there’s always a sort of gender critique happening. Whether she’s hyperfeminine, in drag, or genderfuck there always seems to be a highlight of the performative aspects of gender.