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Lady Gaga and Money-Making

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Eiuol
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What I want to discuss here is how I think Lady Gaga is admirable in regards to the virtue of productivity, particularly in regards to money making. Regardless of what you may think of her music, I think it is safe to say that she is indeed a productive person capable of making music that a whole lot of people love. The fact that Gaga does make a lot of money is indicative of being able to produce something of value to a substantial amount of people. I am not suggesting money is the literal measure of success and virtue, but that it is a very important measure to use when judging a person’s productivity. Since Gaga essentially began with nothing as far as notoriety is concerned - she did at least have a good education in performance art - and little monetary support early on in her career, it only means that much more that she is capable of making so much money. To become someone who is easily one of the most famous people in the world for something produced, or at least in the US, demonstrates an ability to recognize how to distribute music while simultaneously being able to create elaborate performances. Certainly, that is nothing easy to do and could not be accomplished by a mindless and second-handed person. She’d have to figure out how to get her music out to as many people as possible, figure out which people provide the most value in helping produce her particular style of music and performances, and figure out exactly what is needed to produce music in the first place. If it isn’t obvious by now, I am a huge fan of Gaga, and because I love her music, I gladly pay for any albums or a concert ticket. There is a very real value provided to me, and I imagine a great deal of her fans feel the same way. An important value of music is being created for many many people at a level few artists are able to attain.

I think many around here easily understand the role of making money and it’s relation to morality, especially with regards to utilitarian type goods such as computers, iPods, fiber optic networks, homes, etc. The amount of money made from these products has a whole lot to do with how much demand there is, and more money made indicates the importance of the value in question in making life better for the buyer. I think oftentimes with art, popularity is equated with second-handedness because there may be an assumption that one can only become popular by giving into the demands of the masses. To me, Gaga demonstrates exactly in what way a rich artist too can be just as admirable as any rich industrialist or businessperson or whatever. It’s not about specifically in what way *you* value the product in question, but rather, that making money requires a forward-thinking and focused mind. Whatever else she may lack in regards to virtue, I am certain that the amount of money Gaga has made is at least one thing any person should admire. And since the virtue of productivity is mutually dependent upon other virtues like independence and pride, showing an admirable quality would imply being a generally good and admirable person if such qualities are shown consistently over time.

If you think Lady Gaga’s success is not a sign of productivity, I would love to hear your thoughts on why not. If you agree with me, I’d be interested in hearing if I provoked any thoughts about art and money making.

(I was unsure what forum to put this in, but since this is about virtue and productivity, I'll put it under 'Ethics')

Edited by Eiuol
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I'm curious as to why you chose to focus on her income stream. To my knowledge, she doesn't go on about how much money she makes, nor do I know of a time where she strongly defended the money that she has already made (say, in an interview). I am sure she has already made a nice profit off of her short career. But, she chooses to go on about other things, not her money, such as "women's power," and "peace for all, no hate ever anywhere" (not quoting there, summarizing).

Or, if you were choosing something to pick out about her to praise as an observer (as opposed to what she would pick herself), I would have expected maybe how she explicitly applies abstract thinking to make music, or her ability to turn otherwise morbid/uncomfortable things into something interesting that also appeals to masses of people.

I don't think of Lady GaGa as a moneymaker, I think of her as a creative force. I get the impression she would have similar thoughts.

EDIT: PS. It would be easier to read your post if you chopped it up into just a few more paragraphs.

Edited by JASKN
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She puts something out there, people pay her for it. Not only that, she's in an extremely competitive industry. That's all good. Yes, that does mean she is productive.

I'm not sure I understand your point though. I wouldn't expect Objectivists, even if they are not fans of her, to deny her productive success.

...by the way, I like Eminem (another big money maker)... But the reason I like him is the creative talent he displays. Specifically, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qt0CtK-58t0.

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...by the way, I like Eminem (another big money maker)... But the reason I like him is the creative talent he displays. Specifically, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qt0CtK-58t0.

Ditto. Some time back I learned that the reason I liked him was because of his ability to 'essentialize' (for lack of a better word) what he's trying to say.

Edited by RationalBiker
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She's both; there's no dichotomy there. She makes good money regardless of whether she "goes on about it" or not.

Right, I didn't mean to imply otherwise. I meant more that money does not seem as important to her as her creative output, as opposed to someone who is looking forward to retirement.

Re-reading the OP, I don't disagree, and I think Lady GaGa is great, too. She creates in cool ways and so she gets paid accordingly. I just don't understand the emphasis on moneymaking instead of musicmaking.

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She certainly produces something that people eat up, but I don't consider her talented or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGh9zlN6eLo.

I'm in agreement with you in that she is not admirable.

Talent? Well, that depends on how you define it. There can be no doubt she has a talent for marketing herself. Musical talent... maybe she does but it isn't exhibited in what she is famous for.

Lady Gaga involves herself in so many alleged "social justice" causes that I cannot find her admirable in any way. She either believes the immoral altruistic crap ("women's rights", environmentalism, and so forth) or she does it to pander to her fan base. Either way, not admirable at all.

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I think she actually believes the social justice crap she says.

Mainly I like her because she is outrageous, and the media does not intimidate her. I have tentative hope for her intellectual progression, but I'm not expecting much. And no, her music isn't great. : /

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Re-reading the OP, I don't disagree, and I think Lady GaGa is great, too. She creates in cool ways and so she gets paid accordingly. I just don't understand the emphasis on moneymaking instead of musicmaking.

The reason I point out moneymaking here as opposed to musicmaking is that I would want to understand better how to judge producing value in producers of art. In some cases there are indeed people who make money purely by conforming to a fan base's expectations rather than one's own. I have seen it claimed before that Gaga only gets any success by being ultimately second-handed and that her success only reflects that the average consumer has just about zero taste in music. Generally the point I want to make is that such money-making DOES make a person admirable, though maybe not admirable in every single regard. SapereAude seems to be saying exactly the sort of think I wanted to address in my OP. I agree that supporting "social justice" causes is a non-admirable quality, but couldn't Gaga still be a very admirable person in regards to primarily productivity? To what extent can we say a person is admirable for their money making ability before a flaw overrides that?

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I also don't find Lady Gaga admirable or even likable despite her productivity. It is not only due to her political views and the fact that she is whoring herself to the masses but for me, mostly due to her choices in regard to her personal life (how she abuses her own body and spirit).

(and btw many of her fashion statements are not, in fact,original - just the people whom she copied who inspired her outfits are not as widely known or socially visible today. Of course, there is nothing wrong with doing that - it is just the she gets artistic credit for this non exiting originality).

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The reason I point out moneymaking here as opposed to musicmaking is that I would want to understand better how to judge producing value in producers of art. In some cases there are indeed people who make money purely by conforming to a fan base's expectations rather than one's own. I have seen it claimed before that Gaga only gets any success by being ultimately second-handed and that her success only reflects that the average consumer has just about zero taste in music. Generally the point I want to make is that such money-making DOES make a person admirable, though maybe not admirable in every single regard. SapereAude seems to be saying exactly the sort of think I wanted to address in my OP. I agree that supporting "social justice" causes is a non-admirable quality, but couldn't Gaga still be a very admirable person in regards to primarily productivity? To what extent can we say a person is admirable for their money making ability before a flaw overrides that?

-I think she is clearly altruistic.

-I think she is clearly in a constant attempt to create controversy, shock value, and a media frenzy through her outrageous (and often negative aesthetically/philosophically speaking) outfits that she seems to have a new one of for every event, including just going to the airport or Starbucks.

-I think more often than not (some of her messages are good) she preaches messages that are either negative philosophically or negative in the way that they are presented.

-I think

before going "GaGa", and has wasted much of her potential to make something truly inspiring out of herself in return for quick fame and marketing talent as a replacement for musical talent (one need only look at her lyrics to see that).

I think, quite honestly, that you like her as a person, a great deal, for whatever reason, perhaps for her ability to make these elaborate theatrical productions, but that you are trying to justify this view you have of her through specific things she has done (money-making/productivity)while ignoring the many other things about her that would give her a failing grade on the philosophical/moral judgment grade card. I like Tool and Perfect Circle a good deal. Are they talented? Hell yes. Would they fail the Objectivists philosophical grading card? Hell yes. (I don't mean any of this in a rude manner, obviously)

To me, she is not something to be admired or promoted by Objectivists, when the whole context of her actions and messages is taken into account. I think that there are much better individuals regarding the musical industry that would better deserve promotion or respectful acknowledgment by Objectivists.

She also says she admires many earlier artists. Last I checked you don't show your admiration for them by taking well known symbols or other characteristics of those artists, using them in your musical presentations, and then riding the wave of the ignorant teenagers that don't know where the David Bowie lightning bolt comes from and thought it was "cool" and "original" (not saying this is the case with you). She often seems to say she is a collaborated or "in it" with various artists who do not share her opinion when asked... "Similiarly, Grace Jones said she was irritated by Gaga's imitation of her style. "I've seen some things she's worn that I've worn, and that does kind of piss me off,” Jones said, adding "I really don’t think of her at all. I go about my business. (I'd) just prefer to work with someone who is more original and someone who is not copying me, actually." So as a result I am not a big fan of her personally, even if there are certain admirable traits about her professionally.

Two words.

Gail Wynand

I think this sums it up nicely. "a woman who could have been."

Edited by CapitalistSwine
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-I think she is clearly altruistic.

-I think she is clearly in a constant attempt to create controversy, shock value, and a media frenzy through her outrageous (and often negative aesthetically/philosophically speaking) outfits that she seems to have a new one of for every event, including just going to the airport or Starbucks.

-I think more often than not (some of her messages are good) she preaches messages that are either negative philosophically or negative in the way that they are presented.

-I think

before going "GaGa", and has wasted much of her potential to make something truly inspiring out of herself in return for quick fame and marketing talent as a replacement for musical talent (one need only look at her lyrics to see that).

Maybe a better way to think of Gaga is quite a mixed bag, but at least still better than many other musicians out there. I have not read The Fountainhead in a while, but as I recall, Wynand was a mixed bag. There were admirable qualities in Wynand, which is basically why Roark became friends with him at all. With such people, they will either give up on ideals, or through success come to realize what is necessary to maintain one's productivity and flourishing. I do think the positive outweighs the negative in the case of Gaga, and I think money making is specifically an indicator of a strong positive. There is no overbearing amount of altruism, certainly not at a level beyond the average American. As far as shock value is concerned, I do not think there is evidence that's the intention. The simple fact is that often the most self-expressive people garner the most attention whether or not they want it. Some ideas that Gaga has expressed regarding gay rights or god do irritate me, however, I think in general what she says is something many would agree with as a positive such as individuality [i don't quite want to say independence here]. I do not think any talent was wasted by going into pop music, but maybe my tastes are generally in bad taste and low-brow, if you want to phrase it that way. Again, the reason I emphasize the money making part is that it requires productivity, and productivity requires some amount of every other virtue. Even if you disagree on using the word 'admirable', I think it's safe to at least say Gaga is "a woman who still might be" rather than "a woman who could have been."

Edited by Eiuol
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Making money is not an indicator of virtue-- money can be made dishonestly (see Francisco's Speech). Gaga is a non-value who plies entertainment not based on positive statements but on tawdry sensationalism and outrageousness. She is to popular music what Christo is to art: trash.

The beginning of her career started when an audience started booing an early performance of hers, her reply? She took off all of her clothes. She's not a woman who could still be, but rather a woman who never was.

Edited by kainscalia
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She puts something out there, people pay her for it. Not only that, she's in an extremely competitive industry. That's all good. Yes, that does mean she is productive.

I'm not sure I understand your point though. I wouldn't expect Objectivists, even if they are not fans of her, to deny her productive success.

...by the way, I like Eminem (another big money maker)... But the reason I like him is the creative talent he displays. Specifically, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qt0CtK-58t0.

That song is one of the poorest diplays of Eminem's lyrical ability. But I agree, he is so creatively gifted that one can overlook his philosophical problems. Most talented artist in any genere in the last 10+ years.

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Regarding the negativity concerning GaGa's sensationalism: why is this a problem? Is it being sensational that is objectionable? Is it how she chooses to be sensational? Concerning her blatant sexuality: is it a problem to put sexuality on display? GaGa is an act, she isn't real life. As pointed out, she puts on costumes for "everyday life"; I find her very entertaining. I think it is because she devotes so much of her life to entertaining that she is so popular. It's, "What will GaGa do next?"... fun to watch.

As to moneymaking from art, I think it will always directly reflect cultural trends. Look at who is making the most money in art/music/film and you will know what the culture is currently all about. Really bleak at times (almost all of hip-hop), hopeful at others (Coldplay's popularity, rise in popularity of Rand's books, though that lasting effect is questionable).

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Regarding the negativity concerning GaGa's sensationalism: why is this a problem? Is it being sensational that is objectionable? Is it how she chooses to be sensational? Concerning her blatant sexuality: is it a problem to put sexuality on display? GaGa is an act, she isn't real life. As pointed out, she puts on costumes for "everyday life"; I find her very entertaining. I think it is because she devotes so much of her life to entertaining that she is so popular.

My own answer would be that it is sensationalism without substance.

She's very second-handed. As Sophia pointed out most of what people find interesting about her is ripped off from other far better artists who were also sensationalistic.

David Bowie-sensationalism, yes- but a brilliant and original artist who most likely could have made it without any sensationaism. Grace Jones-another original personality (who can be forgiven a million sins for her role in Conan The Destroyer alone :thumbsup: )

So when judging her sensationalism I would say you have to ask yourself- does it accentuate her talent, detract from her talent or attempt to mask a lack of or meagre talent?

Since I don't enjoy her you already know my answer.

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I kind of figured that Lady GaGa would be a good example of how polarized Objectivists can be on artists. Even if unintentional, great pick on the part of the OP. :)

I enjoy her so I know my answer. :)

That said, I think the comparison of her being the Madonna of this generation is not far off. But then, I liked a lot of Madonna's songs too. Go figure.

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Concerning her blatant sexuality: is it a problem to put sexuality on display?

For me, it is not the display that it is an issue. It is her approach to sexuality - and extreme case of mind body split. So extremely casual that it becomes an attack on the value of sexuality.

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I kind of figured that Lady GaGa would be a good example of how polarized Objectivists can be on artists.

The way I see it is that there's no such thing as Objectivist chewing gum. Meaningless or silly things that nevertheless we enjoy. I like horror movies and Korean soap operas so I'm not going to jump to judging someone for liking Gaga.

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That song is one of the poorest diplays of Eminem's lyrical ability. But I agree, he is so creatively gifted that one can overlook his philosophical problems. Most talented artist in any genere in the last 10+ years.

Poorest? Really?!? You must not like the more freestyle based songs. My favorites from him are more story based, for sure, but I like when he plays with words like that, almost like he is showing off how easy it is for him.

"Fork was in the road, took the Psycho-path,

Poison ivy
wouldn't
have me
thinking rash
"

He's got jokes with in jokes even when he's rhyming about nothing.

"Brain dead rims, yeah stupid wheels"

C'mon... that's funny. :D

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This parody nails the essence of Lady Gaga. As far as her brand of sensationalism, you can have an artistic statement being sensational because it is new and creative, or you can have the cheap and tawdry sensationalism that tabloids and yellow press aim for-- shock, vulgarity and an unhealthy desire to portray a base and degraded nature. Lady Gaga's sensationalism belongs to the yellow press' desire to shock. If you listen to the lyrics of her "Bad Romance", you won't have to go very far to be appalled at how un-intellectual they are. They are almost the utterances of a pre-literate savage.

Edited by kainscalia
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