Bil Browning's been writing about commercial exploitation of gay teen suicide lately, but any discussion of the recent phenomenon isn't complete without talking about the over-hyped single expected from Lady Gaga, in which she co-opts a decades-old gay phrase that's now safe enough for the mainstream pop stars, "Born This Way." The slow trickle of information about this song framing it as a gay anthem "for the next 100 years," as if everything from the Stonewall riots to gay teens committing suicide were publicity stunts for Gaga, should be enough to inspire projectile vomit.
So one should wonder why Gaga feels the need to give gays the middle finger too:
Lady Gaga is teaming up with Target to offer fans an exclusive deluxe edition of her forthcoming disc, Born This Way -- and a freebie. Starting this Friday at 9 a.m. ET and running through February 26, fans who pre-order the album at Target.com/gaga will receive a free download of the title track.
As previously reported, the title track will hit digital retailers Friday morning, but why pay for it if you can get it for free with the pre-order?
Target's exclusive deluxe edition of Born This Way will include three bonus studio songs and five remixes. The album will be released May 23.
Great for Target to get such a deal with Lady Gaga, because they're so gay-friendly and do nothing to contribute to making life tougher for gay teens... oh wait. There was the whole "funding anti-gay candidates with hundreds of thousands of dollars of reported money and who knows how many millions in unreported cash and not stopping even when gays were all like, 'Hey, that's not cool'" thing.
Now Gaga's making sure Target will have more money to give to anti-gay candidates by giving the store the exclusive rights to distribute a song that co-opts gay rights rhetoric! Who dreamed up this scheme... O. Henry?
Here's part of the lyrics to that song:
NO MATTER GAY, STRAIGHT, OR BI,
LESBIAN, TRANSGENDERED LIFE
I'M ON THE RIGHT TRACK BABY
I WAS BORN TO SURVIVE
NO MATTER BLACK, WHITE OR BEIGE
CHOLA OR ORIENT MADE
I'M ON THE RIGHT TRACK BABY
I WAS BORN TO BE BRAVE
As I posted a while back, Target's defense for their donation was that they supported anti-gay candidates for business reasons, not because of social issues. The most prominent of these candidates was Tom Emmer, whose fiscal conservatism included a proposal to cut funding for the Department of Human Rights and the Housing Funding Agency. That was his idea for the budget, and his budgetary ideas were the part of his candidacy Target explicitly supported.
Now, does it help or hurt gay people in Minnesota if the Department of Human Rights were eliminated? Does it help or hurt homeless queer youth if help for low-income housing is eliminated? Other cuts Emmer proposed came from education -- will schools be more or less likely to take anti-gay bullying serious if their budgets are cut?
Tom Emmer didn't win, fortunately, but Target paid for lots of his ads selling fiscal conservatism as the only way to save the economy (it isn't -- that's a lie used to justify government service cuts). Even in losing his extreme ideas were promoted, and that wouldn't have been possible without corporate help.
I don't expect Lady Gaga to care about all this, but there were lots of orgs and LGBT people calling for a boycott of Target and I would expect people who generally keep up with the queer news to have a vague recollection of these events. She should feel free to support an anti-gay business, but maybe she could lay off calling the whole thing "unapologetically, gay-in-you-face gay"?
But that's half the point of corporate synergy, to mix audiences and esprits to the point of confusing consumers about who's doing what and what their best interests are. Target could use some pro-gay street cred right about now, and what better way to get it without actually supporting gay people than to get exclusive distribution rights to a certain gay anthem by Lady Gaga? I'm sure they made a great deal with her to get the rights and she's getting paid too.
Not that any of this is unheard of or uncommon. But maybe we could tone it down when it comes to referring to Lady Gaga as some sort of gay advocate? It's like Elton John doing Rush Limbaugh's wedding for $1,000,000, which Limbaugh immediately used to turn around and say, "See? I'm not a homophobe." Target can do the same thing now.
The point of this post isn't to get Lady Gaga to stop doing what she's doing, since I don't have enough money to have a say in the matter. The point is that we go forward with a little less confusion about who she is and what she stands for.