We understand that Lady Gaga is obsessed with fashion, but her new column for V Magazine, in which she basically tries to get back at New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn for unfollowing her on Twitter, largely misses the point of fashion criticism is all about.
The Mother Monster sets out on a misguided and vague attempt to suggest that when critics, who aren’t necessarily even experts in what they’re criticizing, become predictable, their criticism isn’t useful anymore. And then she posits that Horyn’s criticism, which has been filling newspapers, magazines and websites across the country and the world for literally longer than Gaga has been alive, is predictably negative — always negative, in fact. And how much good can someone snarkily making fun of all the clothes ever produced ever be good for the industry?
Gaga asks a lot of questions, chief among them, “When does the critique or review become insult and not insight?” She hails the writing of Tavi Gevinson, the 15-year-old blogger who is launching her own magazine soon, as “the future of journalism.” Hory, however, is too frequently dismissive to actually do the job. “It’s much more challenging to reckon with and analyze a work,” Gaga says. “It requires research, but maybe no one does their research anymore.” And then, Gaga asks what Horyn can do to separate herself from the online pack of people who post comments about fashion on Facebook and Twitter.
And that’s the thing. Cathy Horyn is already separate from the pack. She’s the reason the pack exists — people who don’t know the first thing about fashion want to be just like her. And while Horyn’s reviews have their fair share of snark, they’re written from a a critical perspective that no other working journalist has today. The hard line she draws between good fashion and bad is the reason she’s so admired — and so vilified. Every season, Cathy Horyn scares the pants off designers and forces them to do work. And it doesn’t take a fashion genius to figure that out.
So what is Gaga after, exactly?
Where my argument leads is to the perspective space of art, which is subjective and not ultimately rooted in mathematics or physics. Is it not even more critical for fashion and art critics to be profusely informed not only in art history but in the subliminal? The public operates with the assumption that critics are experts in their respective fields. But are they? Does every critic have the soul to really receive a work in the transcendental sense? The out-of-body experience of art?
Oh, OK. We get it. Gaga is just sensitive because she’s caught up in the idea that everything she puts on her back is art. Well, let us just say this: Cathy Horyn is a critic of fashion, and does a bang up job of it. And while her criticism extends to the artistry that goes into producing clothing, it is not overly concerned with other people’s definitions of the space fashion falls into. That is to say, just because you think Giorgio Armani’s couture collection is worthy of being displayed in the Uffizi Gallery, doesn’t mean she does. And we don’t expect her to apologize for that.