Gaga offers a model of decadent consumption, offset with charitable work and actions, and continuing reinvention of the self that sits well with the neoliberal notion that individuals are responsible for themselves alone and are entrepreneurs of the self. The Gaga brand is a form of Žižek’s ‘capitalism with a human face,’ one that enables the late capitalist phenomenon of commodity activism and commodity feminism. Gaga’s Little Monsters build narratives as consumer-producers: they contribute unpaid, immaterial labor to produce web content, and help to define and shape the Gaga brand. The paper examines sugar work Gagas: unlicensed exploitation of the Gaga brand by The Icecreamists in their Baby Gaga (now Baby Googoo) breastmilk ice-cream, and tributes in cake form by fans and master bakers, and concludes with a brief foray into the business and politics of ‘Cake Like Lady Gaga.’ Gaga’s emphasis on individuality and neoliberal subjectivities obscures the fact that there are structural barriers to everyone being able to do what they want.
In Lady Gaga and Popular Music: Performing Gender, Fashion and Culture, edited by Martin Iddon and Melanie L. Marshall (Routledge, 2014).
See also: Gaga Out