SO HERE IT IS IN ALL ITS SPLENDOR! I SUBMITTED IT TO MY PROFESSOR THIS MORNING, HOPEFULLY THE COMMENTS FROM HER WON'T BE TOO HARSH...PARDON THE POORLY WRITTEN CONCLUSION. I WAS A BIT TIRED.
I HOPE WHOEVER READS THIS COMMENTS ON IT. I UNDERSTAND IT IS LENGTHY BUT I JUST COULDN'T CUT IT DOWN EVEN TO POST ON HERE..IF YOUR INTERESTED YOU'LL READ IT ALL.. PLEASE!!!!
Spectacular Bodies: Image Analysis, Lady Gaga as Lady Liberty
The image that will be analyzed is from the cover of V Magazine for fall 2010 and will be referred to as Appendix A. This year’s fall issue features celebrity pop singer Lady Gaga and clothing designer Marc Jacobs in what the photographer has named “The New York Issue”. Lady Gaga and Marc Jacobs are pictured together in “formal” attire as if they were going to a large upper-class black tie event. The twist of it is that Lady Gaga is pictured in a bra and underwear set, with only a large draping of pale toned fabric hanging off her hip. Standing in front of a grocery cart, she resembles a faux Statue of Liberty with some of the statues recognizable attributes; some of her hair is up in horizontal spikes which seemingly form the liberty crown, and a paper bag on fire takes the place of the Liberty Flame which is held aloft in her left hand. While she stands facing the photographer full on in the classic Lady Liberty pose, her partner in the picture sits fully clothed in tuxedo on a television set, but he is facing left and away from the camera’s focus. It is obvious that Lady Gaga is the focal point of this image, with her body and overall appearance succeeding to represent and produce ideologies of sexuality and nation, as well as challenging dominant gender norms in society with her body language.
The image that Lady Gaga produces on the cover of this magazine is provocative, and highly sexual. Her body exposure signifies the dominance of sexuality and the importance of it that is placed on the body, specifically on the female body in society today. Social interest in the body has inhibited what is known as “the gaze”, in which, in society there are two types of viewers; the spectators and the objects. The spectator is the one person who is looking at or viewing someone else, where as the object is the one being looked at. There is the convention in place that depicts “women as objects of the gaze and men as the lookers”, and which is still in existence today, although in western tradition “men are depicted [as active] and women as objects [or passive]” (Sturken and Cartwright 80-81). The image in Appendix A plays upon the sexuality of the female body and is encouraging the gaze of both male and female viewers by placing the women front and centre in all her scantily clad beauty. In this picture of partial nudity the woman’s body further becomes a model factor in the eroticism of the female body, as well producing images of physical sexual freedom. Lady Gaga’s body on this cover represents a female body that is both desired and desirable. It is being looked at and inviting the gaze by presenting itself in a sensual, sexual and almost erotic manner as well as allowing itself to be freely and openly viewed. The use of long hair not only cuts, frames and outlines the face, neck, shoulders and breasts of the woman, but works to partially cover and expose her “feminine” “soft” and more “delicate” features. The black lingerie in contrast to pale skin draws attention to the parts of the woman’s body that are covered jut enough, and therefore creates a curiosity in the spectator to want to see that which is being covered. The most covered part of Lady Gaga’s body in Appendix A is her legs and not much else is left to imagination as her more private parts are in almost full view. Beyond using revealing clothing to cover her torso, the use of the pale and flesh colored shades of the skirt around her legs and hip, gives off an appearance of further nudity. Along with her blonde hair on her head, the skirt covering her legs brings forth the appearance of blurring out the rest of her body. It seems that the viewer is supposed to zone in on the shoulder down to the hip, and this blurring of face and legs forces the gaze’s focus. The female body is on exhibition here, and this woman is both “simultaneously looked at and displayed, with [her] appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so [she appears to] connote to-be-looked-at-ness” (Mulvey, 397). Thus the woman in this picture serves only one purpose, that is, of being a sexually desirable and viewable body. If by chance the viewer decides to focus on her face as a more important feature to her body, then they are met with partly closed dark, smoky eyes and light rose colored lips which are parted in a submissive form. Her face is the perfect mask of sensuality, in which she seems to ask the viewer to view her, and she submits willingly to the gaze and allows her physical self to be sexually objectified. She is not given a voice or the ability to speak but is considered beautiful, and her body is in pose for the spectators eyes. Through what is called scopophelia, she stands only to give pleasure to those fascinated with the female human form as her physical body is “viewed sexually and gives the viewer pleasure in looking” (Mulvey 395). er
Lady Gaga in Appendix A is taking on the image of Woman as Nation, as she stands in this picture a mirror of the Statue of Liberty [reflected in poor taste perhaps]. It brings to mind the question of what this image is saying for the American nation; it is saying that New York is associated with nothing but shopping carts, broken television sets and dirty sidewalks. The image of the great Statue of Liberty is downgraded by this mere imitation of a crown of hair, a twisted up brown paper bag ablaze and part of the lower half of a gown, which not only makes the image cheap but forces its vulnerability. This pose of the partially nude Lady Liberty brings up images of sexual freedom, and this image can be taken as a comment on the ‘liberties’ given and used by the people of America, which the statue of Liberty represents. She not only represents a nation that is free in mind, but has freedom in its physical action and corporeal body as well. The Statue of Liberty serves as a reminder and representation of freedom, hope and prosperity. Lady Gaga as this model of Lady Liberty just puts forth images of sexuality, nudity, poverty and a degradation of women and their bodies. It speaks of a nation built on garbage and controlled by rampant free sexuality. She is facing directly at the camera, she is not ashamed of herself, nor is there any attempt to show weakness or restraint, though her vulnerability remains in question. Lady Gaga invites everyone to an America that thrives on the pleasures of the flesh and says “Look At Me… Need Me… Want Me”.
Beyond producing the normative ideologies of women being viewed solely as sexualized objects and representatives of a physically free nation, this images challenges typical gendered norms that are ever present in visual culture. In many magazine and television advertisements that feature both men and women, the man is generally standing and the woman is sitting, kneeling, lying down on something or on the ground which produces images of female inferiority and male superiority. It also tends to show men in an active role and women in a passive role. In Appendix A, Lady Gaga is standing and the man, Marc Jacobs, in the picture is sitting. This is challenging the power relationships between men and women in popular culture or media. The image shows a woman getting more height than a man and occupying more space. In being placed taller or higher than her male counterpart, she comes to represent a strong female image where woman are no longer on the floor or lower than the men they are pictured with. Standing straight and taking up as much space by use of hair, clothing and physical body parts such as arms and elbows, she remains the strong and proud image of Lady Liberty and can represent the ideas of freedom and strength and progression that the Statue of Liberty Is for the United States. It is no longer the man in power, as he is crunched up, taking as little of Her space up as possible and not even facing the gaze or her. She has won the power struggle here.
The image that has been analyzed allowed a strong image of woman power to be created in relation to challenging some gender norms, as well as producing ideologies of women as sexuality and women as nation. In putting the picture in a faux New York setting, the sexualized object, the switch in gendered norms of power and the notions of Nation comment on the changes that are in effect in this culture, at least in one of the major big cities of western society. Using Lady Gaga as Lady Liberty created an interesting characterization of the “type” of New York woman and gives people a model for what that woman stands for, what she is in the flesh and in cultural terms. Lady Gaga is one pop star that is definitely wanting of “the gaze” and is doing everything possible to invoke, provoke and challenge it. Now there’s a Spectacular Body!
Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Cultural Studies Critical Theory 2S03. Ed. Chandrima Chakraborty. Hamilton: McMaster U, 2010. 46-47. Print.
Sturken, Marita and Lisa Cartwright. Practices of Looking. New York. Oxford UP. 2001. 80-81. Print
“The New York Issue”. V Magazine. V67. Sweden Unlimited. Fall 2010. Web. October 10th 2010. Image in Appendix A http://www.vmagazine.com/category/magazine/ IMAGE BELOW
|IMAGE FROM V MAGAZINE- I DON'T OWN THIS AT ALL!|
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