Nicholas Lezard: Make a real Lady out of Gaga

One of the Shropshire Gagas, she inherited the title in 1960 and has used all the benefits of her privileged place in society to good effect
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The Independent Online

A friend emails me a link to the new Lady Gaga video. Although of markedly liberal bent, he adds the note: "this is what our kids are being served up". There then follows nine minutes or so of a bit of prison lesbian erotica, some of Lady Gaga's trademark outrageous outfits, a fetching performance from the attractive and talented singer Beyoncé, and all wrapped around three and a bit minutes or so of an unexceptional but by no means offensively bad pop song.

I had hoped to reach a serene and satisfied old age without feeling that I had to formulate an opinion about Lady Gaga, but now even that solace for my declining years has been denied me. However, I am very glad I have now, for having done some research into her life story, I have uncovered a much richer biography than you might have suspected from the bare bones of her Wikipedia entry.

This claims that she was born in the United States, in 1986, under the name Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, but this is actually a cleverly concocted cover story which today's young people, who have got out of the habit of reading their Debrett's, have fallen for, hook, line and sinker. The great thing about Lady Gaga, I have discovered, is that what is going on here is an elaborate and vastly audacious double-bluff. Unless my copy of Debrett's is lying, or inaccurate, she actually is a Lady, and not only is she English, she also still has full voting rights in the House of Lords.

One of the Shropshire Gagas, she inherited the title in 1960 and has used all the benefits of her privileged place in society to good effect; a tireless campaigner for the rural poor, a committed anti-vivisectionist, and, up until about two years ago, an increasingly vocal opponent of the Iraq war.

The pivotal event in her life, though, was in 2008, when she was kicked in the head by a horse, forgot everything about herself except her name, title, and dress sense, and ran off to New York to become a performance artist and singer, building her career on the initial support of that city's vibrant gay subculture.

Ah, if only. But no, she is simply the latest attention-seeker to have had a good, hard look at Madonna's career and thought, "I can do that." And indeed she is no fool – is, in fact, by the standards of the industry, unusually thoughtful and well-read.

So she can be said to have fulfilled her ambitions, to the extent that she can release an album complaining about her fame despite having done as much hard graft as possible in order to achieve it.

But I am beginning to wonder whether enough is enough. She has now entered the consciousness of every single person on the planet. Eleven million people had seen her video when I started writing this article. An hour later, 12 million people have seen it. OK, she's talented and all that, but can we have a break? Perhaps we really could shunt her off to the House of Lords.