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Friday, April 10, 2020

Columns

Gaga’s class leaves one speechless


Lady Gaga is catchy. Some of the music she writes is pretty decent by most standards. It’s not Mozart, but by our culture’s standards it’s pretty good. Is her rise to fame and power and dominance in every aspect of the market that Justin Bieber doesn’t control (all of it except for girls between the age of 3 to 14) worthy of say, a university level class?

Professor Matthieu Deflem of the University of South Carolina thinks so. This upcoming semester, Deflem will be teaching a course entitled: Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame. The course, according to Deflem, will examine the social elements behind Lady Gaga’s rise to fame and her current status as a social phenomenon.

The original purpose of the class was to examine the social elements of the celebrity and her rise to fame. It would use various examples to not only provide an explanation of the social elements involved in fame, but also various issues such as: business and marketing strategies, the roles of the old and new media, gay culture, religious and political themes, sex and sexuality and the cities of New York and Hollywood.

Isn’t it a bit obsessive to base a class on sociology and fame solely on one person — is one person enough to explain the social elements of fame? If so, is Lady Gaga capable of being the one person that we can paint an effective portrait of the sociology of the celebrity?

Lady Gaga really shouldn’t be used to paint a picture of the sociology of the celebrity, not because she does not accurately represent it, but because no one person could exemplify every element of fame.

Every person is different, and this includes celebrities. Even if one could explain the social elements of fame and celebrity through one person, Lady Gaga is such an odd and unique character that she would just be too outlandish to be able to represent all celebrities.

Deflem’s obsession with Lady Gaga might blind him to the fact that one person cannot represent a whole group accurately.

If people want to learn about Lady Gaga and her effect on the social elements of fame, and vice versa, well, let them.

It is absurd, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. It just seems like a highly ineffective route to take when dealing with sociology. So, hey, to each their own. And if Deflem can teach something to his students, then by all means, he should be able to teach a course.

Ian Everett is a literary studies freshman and may be reached at [email protected]


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