Open Letter

Lady GaGa

Lady GaGa (photo from ibtimes.com)

In the last week, Lady GaGa has been in the news on more than one occasion. One is a plagiarism lawsuit surrounding her song Judas that also somehow involves Jennifer LopezInvading My Mind. She’s also been criticised for wearing a gun bra during live performances (that was originally present for her 2010 video Alejandro) that some say is too soon following the mass shootings at the elementary school in Connecticut. She has since removed it from her show. And she was involved in a battle of words with Sharon Osbourne over a note she wrote to her daughter Kelly regarding bullying. It was the gun story that received the most press though I think the series of messages between GaGa and Osbourne to be more interesting, significant and deservingly newsworthy.

On Jan. 10, Lady GaGa wrote an “open letter” to Kelly Osbourne regarding Kelly’s show Fashion Police on the E! network that she co-hosts with Joan Rivers, Giuliana Rancic and George Kotsiopoulos. She says to Kelly: “Your work on E! with the Fashion Police is rooted in criticism, judgment, and rating people’s beauty against one another,” before citing visual appearances as the top reason for bullying. GaGa then reminds Kelly of a time when she herself was on the receiving end of similar comments before losing 50 lbs and completely changing her look. She then wishes for Kelly “to be treated with the kindness and respect that everyone deserves.” A respectable letter with many good points.

Sharon Osbourne

Sharon Osbourne (photo from Washington Post)

Kelly’s mom, Sharon, responds the next day. Sharon’s letter questions why GaGa’s message was made public, reminds GaGa that it is her duty to stop her fans from “from writing libelous, slanderous and vile comments about my family, including death threats to Kelly,” and defends Kelly’s show with the line “Welcome to the real world.” Finally, she calls her out regarding her own fashion choices, stating “When I see you wearing fur, and using it as a fashion statement, the fact that defenseless animals have been killed so you can get your picture in the press is abhorrent to me.” She ends the letter demanding that GaGa “stop wearing fur, stop looking for publicity, and stop using your fans to belittle not just Kelly but an endless stream of celebrities,” adding that a word from GaGa would stop her fans from negative behaviour.

Both letters contain legitimate points. In Sharon’s note, posted on her Facebook page, she also includes an email she wrote to GaGa’s manager referencing a letter she sent last year referencing the attacks that fans of GaGa made toward Kelly through social media. In it, she says that one tweet from GaGa would stop them. No response.

Sharon accuses GaGa of making the letter public to get attention. I won’t disagree that it might not have been the wisest choice for GaGa to write a public letter to Kelly knowing that her fans would likely jump on it as well. While it’s likely that GaGa’s intention was to draw attention to her anti-bullying campaign that she has been so adamantly pushing over the last couple years, as history has shown, her fans aren’t the most polite creatures. During Adele-rein 2011, many GaGa fans took to Twitter to venomously insult Adele’s weight because she was outperforming GaGa in nearly every aspect including radio airplay and record/singles sales. However, GaGa did directly address them on Twitter when she told them to knock it off. The fact of the matter is, hardcore fans of any diva act the same way. It’s not only GaGa’s fans; it’s Mariah‘s fans, Christina‘s fans, Madonna‘s fans, and so on. Considering GaGa’s ongoing message of acceptance that she has placed in nearly every aspect of her public being, if her fans don’t absorb that, they likely won’t listen to her when she demands they play nice.

Fashion Police

The Cast of Fashion Police (photo from hollywoodreporter.com)

Regarding GaGa’s initial letter, she brings up many good points as well. While I’ve never seen a full episode of Fashion Police, I’ve watched some YouTube clips for the purpose of this blog post. What I saw was catty, superficial, vile and insulting. The entire show bases itself around criticising how celebrities look. I only saw criticism. No compliments. One of the segments of the show has the hosts guess whether a celebrity photograph (with face blanked out) is a “starlet” or a “streetwalker” based on the outfit. The show goes way beyond the “best and worst dressed” segments of most Hollywood entertainment shows. Quite frankly, if Kelly Osbourne wasn’t a co-host of the show, you can almost bet she would have been a regular target for Joan Rivers to hurl insults at.

Since then, GaGa has responded to Sharon’s post with a tweet: “The “real world” can be cruel, why not try to change it into a better place? I am an activist. Nobody takes adolescents seriously, I do.” and “My letter to @MissKellyO was open, because her statements on cyber-bulling were public & as a youth activist I’m compelled to be involved.”

Say what you will about Lady GaGa. But she has put a lot of work and effort into helping bullied youth. The North American leg of her tour, which started last week, has a Born Brave bus which follows her own tour bus and invites youth to find out how they can get help and help out against bullying. Her tweets are always positive and complimentary, both to her fans and other celebs. She tweeted this week how proud she was of Justin Bieber and his fans – likely to sway her own from attacking them since he is closing in on her record number of twitter followers. Both are just over 33 million each.

Sharon’s defence of animals is admirable and one I wouldn’t argue against but it hardly stands as justification for the level of intolerance and negative behaviour a show like Kelly’s Fashion Police introduces. They might just be targeting celebrities, who are to expect this type of negative criticism, but it invites the idea that this type of discussion is acceptable in a generation where huge percentages of people, not only youth, experience bullying on a regular basis.

Thoughts and discussion are welcome and encouraged. 🙂

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