A few years back a young, talented pop star emerged and captured the attention of, well, everyone. Everyone but me, that is. I loathed this woman. She sang about dancing and paparazzi and poker and telephones. She dressed like a fool. Nothing she did or said appeared to contain any real substance -- it was all for shown. And I hated it. I hated her hoof heels and meat dresses and her "Born This Way" anthems. Everything about her was contrived and fake. To me she was a walking punch line. Why couldn't she just be REAL, I moaned.
Then, by chance, I caught an interview with the loathsome star on 60 Minutes. And I fell in love with Lady Gaga.
I have always been unapologetically in lurve with pop culture. I read fashion and gossip blogs obsessively. I consume pop culture like some people consume food. But I don't fucking care. It fills an entertainment void AND does double duty as trivia fodder. When Unsuspecting Fred Meyer Clerk challenges me to a pop culture duel, look out, because OF COURSE I know Joe Pesci released an album in the 60's, thankyouverymuch.
Throughout the course of the interview, Lady Gaga was asked about her music, her fashion forays, her songwriting. Conspicuously missing from the interview was anything personal -- nothing about her love life, family, home. ZIP. ZILCH. NADA. And I realized (somewhat naively, I suppose), that Lady Gaga was a construct. Of course she was. She served as a buffer, or, more accurately, a cop conducting traffic. Every time she arrived in an egg, or eschewed pants in public, she was directing my attention to her persona, making sure I never looked behind the curtain for the wizard. The meat dress was merely guiding me in Lady Gaga's desired direction, while Stefani Germanotta was free to carry on as a somewhat normal member of society. Lady Gaga wasn't a fraud, she was a GENIUS. What better way to keep the public's prying eyes from your most intimate and private moments than to create a male alter ego named Joe Calderone?! Fucking brilliant.
Now back to my pop culture consumption. Like any bad habit, I consume(d) all that salty, delicious pop culture mindlessly, never caring for what was said or who was saying it. (Expect Britney. Man, that was hard to watch.) And while I clicked and clicked, always wanting more and more, I was completely oblivious to the fact that I, too, was being observed. Like every good twenty-something, I Facebooked, I blogged, I tweeted. Every piece of myself I put into the universe was really me offering myself up for judgement. But was I?
Every piece I put into the universe was calculated. Every piece was pointed, thought-out, crafted. Every post, tweet, and status update gave the universe fodder, but rarely did I provide a piece of myself. Save for a handful of very raw blog posts (and one "shitty" post), I have worked hard to cultivate my own (online) persona -- one of a fun-loving, outgoing, happy-go-lucky young woman. That part of me really does exist, to be sure, but it is not all of me. Not by any means. By creating this persona, though, I have been able to avoid pointed questions about my faith, my family, my love life -- all things I consider personal and decidedly NOT up for discussion.
Which leads me here. Because I offer up little of myself in initial meetings, I am invariably wary of people who say they "LOVE!" me upon first meeting. Or second meeting. Or only in certain contexts. Or because I post funny shit on the internet. I take my time getting to know people, and conversely, take my time letting people get to know me. It's rare (read: NEVER) that I let anyone know all the things initially. As a matter of fact, I feel very UNcomfortable when people know too much. Occasionally someone comes along who forces me to be socially intimate before I'm ready, shoving Stefani Germanotta behind the curtain, and thrusting Lady Gaga onto the stage.
I'M FUNNY! I'M WITTY! I FUCKING SWEAR! AHAHAHAHAHA!
I inevitably become the caricature you think I am. This makes me bitter and resentful, both because I am not a caricature and because I don't like to be forced into anything.
The very unfortunate flip side to this coin is that I am also very suspect of those who offer themselves up for consumption, seemingly without regard for privacy or mystery or self-respect. I do not understand those individuals who share willy-nilly the most intimate pieces of themselves. I do not understand how one's faith, family, or love life could be offered up as fodder for prying eyes. I do not understand why sharing (with complete or near strangers) is caring.
But Mindy, this is at total odds with your pop culture obsession! How do you reconcile perusing gossip blogs with your seemingly unending need for personal privacy?!
I don't know. I'ma go read some Dlisted and get back to you.