Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Some thoughts on a meaty fashionista

I wasn't going to weigh in on Lady Gaga's now infamous meat outfit that she wore at the MTV Video Music Awards last Sunday. Images of the diva wearing a steak dress have appeared everywhere. Her controversial dress had the desired effect. PETA went nuts. The fashion community rallied to her defense. Journalists speculated about whether the steak dress was real. "Did Lady Gaga really wear slabs of meat as a dress?" asked a Globe and Mail headline. Lady Gaga herself defended her actions, saying she was trying to make a point. She told impassioned veganista talk show hostess Ellen DeGeneres: "Well, it is certainly no disrespect to anyone who is vegan or vegetarian.... If we don't stand up for what we believe in and if we don't fight for our rights, pretty soon we're going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones. And I am not a piece of meat." (Source.)

Huh? What???

For all her vague, rambling, incoherent commentary, Lady Gaga - who has been really wonderful in her support of gay and lesbian rights - might be onto something here. How is her meat outfit any different than leather? Yet leather never sparks such a brouhaha. It's widely accepted as normal. But if you throw a steak on your body - or the fur from a cute little animal - people go apeshit. How come one type of clothing triggers so much outrage while another - made of the same stuff - does not? Our old friend, Mr. Double Standard (first cousin of Denial), knows the answer to that question all too well.

Most people probably won't connect these dots, though. The average person, when she or he sees Lady Gaga dressed in steak, most likely won't engage in any soul searching. At the most, they'll probably say, "Ew" or "She's so crazy," and go on munching away on their steaks and hamburgers. Give it a little time. Lady Gaga will be back in the news for some other reason.

But I just couldn't resist the urge to comment. This is too much of a "moment" to ignore. This controversy tells us something about the general public across North America. There is a way of breaking down the denial and the double standards, and the key to doing so is making people see that what they eat is made of the meat and flesh and blood of sentient beings who feel fear and excruciating pain and live short lives in an ultra-violent system. Lady Gaga caught some flak for wearing pieces of those sentient beings. If we can figure out a way of teaching people that wearing meat is no different than eating it, we might be able to pluck one more brick out of the wall of denial and make people think twice before they sink their teeth into a porterhouse or a Quarter Pounder.

1 comment:

  1. You hit the nail on the head with this one. What Lady Gaga did was no different to people who wear leather or eat meat.