Cyberspace was all abuzz on Monday, thanks to Lady Gaga’s “shocking” VMA performance of “You and I” dressed as a young Ralph Macchio, or at least that’s what it looked like from here. It was creative and bold, and definitely entertaining – but shocking? Eh. Then again, a second look is out of the question as the generous folks at MTV promptly scrubbed the Web of any footage in an attempt to sell the awards show in its entirety to every preteen with a PayPal account. But that’s beside the point.
Cross-dressing is hardly a novel concept, for an entertainer at least. The music industry is filled with gender-benders like David Bowie and Prince, Madonna, Annie Lennox, Boy George and Robert Smith. Even Kurt Cobain sang a song in a floral frock now and then. The irony is that amid all the tweet and talk of Man-Gaga on Monday, the anniversary of a truly jaw-dropping onstage act quietly passed: It’s now been more than 42 years since the first time Iggy Pop cut himself onstage on August 29, 1969.
I stopped watching MTV somewhere around the mid-nineties, not long after Cobain put an end to himself and the grunge era with a shotgun blast to his face and shortly before the music video was replaced by a succession of pathetic “reality” shows featuring houses full of vain 20-somethings acting as if they were the first humans in recorded history to discover sex. In spite of that, and my better instincts, I stopped on the VMAs while channel surfing the other night, and I caught the Gaga performance mentioned above. I have to say, forget about shocking, even “creative and bold” and “definitely entertaining” are absurd exaggerations. I stuck around long enough to see a couple of awards handed out and maybe one or two other performances, and that was all I could take. It was just another reminder of how fucking lame MTV is, how what’s really on offer is just a tame, housebroken imitation of “shocking,” “creative,” and “bold.” MTV is a square who is trying to impress upon you how cool he is, who invites you over to his “pad” and tells you to make yourself comfortable and then frowns when you put your feet on the table. MTV would have no use for Iggy Pop; and, more importantly, Iggy Pop would have no use for MTV. G.G. Allin, if he were still alive, wouldn’t be allowed within 200 miles of the VMAs, not that he’d want to be. That’s too bad. I think I’d be willing to pay good money to see him shit on that stage and throw it in the crowd, especially if he got some on Russell Brand and Katy Perry. It might not be shocking, but it’d be pretty damn funny.