Madonna used Nazi imagery, including swastikas and Adolf Hitler, during a video interlude at her concert in Israel on Thursday.
The visuals were among a series of symbols, photos and clips projected on screens to accompany the singer’s song “Nobody Knows Me.”
At one moment in the montage, Madonna is wearing Hitler’s mustache and a swastika on her forehead.
In the video Madonna also appears in a hoodie ala Trayvon Martin and in a burqa. Occupy Wall Street graphics juxtapose with the Westboro Baptist Church’s “God Hates Fags” picketing and suddenly the song stops to memorialize various gay teens who committed suicide.
On so many levels Madonna’s now shamelessly ripping off Lady Gaga: from the need to offend for offending’s sake to targeting the sexually confused teenager demographic to the reliance on fascistic imagery. It’s so contrived and manufactured (and artistically desperate) that it’s difficult to even get outraged over her trivialization of the Nazis’ genocide.
Last year, Emily Esfahani Smith, the editor of the culture blog Acculturated, published “Performance Art: The Faux Creativity of Lady Gaga,” the best analysis of the pop idol that I’ve encountered:
How did Lady Gaga become such a standout? To begin with, she’s got a knack of sending sadomasochistic rape-like fantasies—in songs and videos that double as catchy club hits—to the top of the charts. The song Poker Face, which is about being with a man while pretending to be with a woman, has a nod rough sex in it (“baby when it’s love if it’s not rough it isn’t fun”). The music video for Bad Romance is about being a sex slave. The climax of the video hits when she’s thrown at the feet of a group of shirtless, tattooed men who look like Russian mobsters. “I want your revenge,” she howls in the song. In the same song, she craves a “leather-studded kiss in the sand.” Then there’s her song, “I Like it Rough,” which needs no explanation.
That new face, in case you’ve never seen a picture of Lady Gaga, looks like that of a woman posing as a cross-dressing man—a woman who celebrates rough sex, rape-like fantasies, and murder—a woman whose message is, as she told the LA Times, “I want women—and men—to feel empowered by a deeper and more psychotic part of themselves. The part they’re always trying desperately to hide. I want that to become something that they cherish.” She is all at once vaudevillian and carnal. At all times, she is in full Gaga-attire, which means she either looks like a cartoon-alien or a “transvestite ballerina,” as a writer for the UK’s Times Online puts it. “Look at her fashion statements,” one fan says, when I ask why Gaga is creative.
Here’s a video of Smith discussing her thesis, note in particular what she has to say at the 3:30 mark. Recall how in the concert sequence above Madonna goes out of her way to NOT be sexy and to in fact appear monstrous by changing and distorting her face. Gaga tried this first and now Madonna’s playing catch up:
See how in the “Bad Romance” video Lady Gaga’s face is obscured in different ways? By doing that it’s easier for her to transform into just an androgynous body to be abused instead of a strong woman who deserves to be loved, cherished, defended, and respected.