Baudrillard in drag: Lady Gaga and the accelerated cycles of pop

Tara Brabazon, Steve Redhead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pop time, we would argue, is cyclical, rather than linear. Yet if there is a characteristic of our age of fast capitalisms and critical modernities, then it is that these pop cycles are increasing in speed. This paper investigates accelerated ageing and the speed at which new pop becomes old pop. Women are a canary in the mine of such a process. The brightest and loudest of these contemporary tweeters is Lady Gaga. She has compressed Madonna’s two decades of fame into five years. She wears the pop history of Elton John, David Bowie, Donna Summer, and Debbie Harry on her sleeve. Her use of inversion creates a new bundling of radicalism and commercialism, old and new, ageing and youth. Our goal in this article is to track how and why Lady Gaga has compressed the cycles of pop and ageing. We argue that Gaga is Baudrillard in drag. Jean Baudrillard committed to shallow ideas, to banality, very deeply. So does Gaga. Using surprise and shock to create disturbing visual and sonic moments for the enabling of difference, Gaga deploys the full palette of pop. Pop history is her paint box.

Our work opens this paint box to develop a model of pop time and how theories of accelerated culture are transforming the concepts of both popular culture and popular memory. In probing such questions, we also answer Camille Paglia’s inquiry and show why her disdain for Gaga misreads (post) youth culture and (post) popular culture. Lady Gaga is more than a case study. She is a metaphor, metonymy, and model to think about how new theories of speed are activated on popular culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages14
JournalAmericana: The Journal of American Popular Culture
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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