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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Appropriate or the Seinfeld/Lady Gaga thing.

To criticize is to appreciate, to appropriate, to take intellectual possession, to establish in fine a relation with the criticized thing and to make it one's own.

Henry James

A recent event made me think “oh crap, here we go again.”

Jerry Seinfeld [‘an American stand-up comedian, actor and writer, best known for playing a semi-fictional version of himself in the situation comedy Seinfeld (1989–1998)’ - Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia] can't stand Lady Gaga [an American recording artist.] Read that sentence aloud. Sounds odd, doesn't it? What business does Seinfeld have knowing who Lady Gaga is?

He's a 1990s pop culture icon. She's a 2000s pop phenom who was barely 3 years old when "Seinfeld" debuted on NBC.

On second thought, maybe Seinfeld's declaration that Gaga is "a jerk" because she flipped somebody off at Citi Field and was rewarded with a seat in his empty luxury box makes perfect sense. The man is famous for complaining about people. And Gaga — beneath all those ridiculous outfits — is just people. Why shouldn't Seinfeld complain about her and that finger and those "rhinestone bikinis" in his box. It's what he does.

Anyway, to my knowledge, they haven't met. Seinfeld heard about Gaga's June 10 performance art, or whatever, at Citi Field and lit into her shortly on a New York radio station shortly thereafter.

Those two clash in almost every way. Jerry Seinfeld epitomizes what middle-America aspires to. Lady Gaga does not. “[W]hy is it that we are so fascinated with the freaks?” asks one commentary (The Daily Barometer.) Jerry Seinfeld said that Lady Gaga should apologize to Met fans. 'Then I'm willing to forget the whole thing.' (James Montgomery) I’m sorry but Met fans, Seinfeld, Lady Gaga? I’m reminded of that Sesame Street song: “one of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong…” I mean, really.

I think that what really bugs me is that some very smart people, who previously liked Gaga, buy into the backlash. “Betty White: Immune to backlash. Lady Gaga? Nope.” (Queerty)

If anyone expects conventional, appropriate behavior they’re looking in the wrong place. Look at what she wore to a baseball game. “Lady Gaga shows off a pair of studded panties and bra while walking into a baseball game at Citi Field on Thursday (June 10) in Flushing, Queens, New York.” (Just Jared.)

We cannot ignore the fact that Seinfeld and Gaga share a Rolling Stone cover. The cast of Seinfeld transforms their look, trying to appear rocker-esque in a parodic way. Transformation through apparel is a hallmark of Lady Gaga: “Lady Gaga channeled Peter Pan in a sparkly green body suit and booties by Giorgio Armani.” (Los Angeles Times.) It is fairly synchronous/suspicious that the incident at Citi Field happened when it did. Bad publicity is still publicity.

So, I take her criticism with a grain of salt. I don’t expect her to be appropriate – only fabulous.


Just Jared. “Lady Gaga: Studded Panties Parade!” Accessed June 27, 2010.
Los Angeles Times. “Grammy fashion: At the Grammys, style doesn’t stop at the red carpet.” January 31, 2010.
Montgomery, James. “Jerry Seinfeld: Lady Gaga Should Apologize To Met Fans.”
Accessed June 27. 2010.
Queerty. “Watch Yourself, Gaga: Backlash Is Around the Corner.”
Accessed June 27, 2010.
Rolling Stone. Editors Jann Wenner, Will Dana. Wenner Media LLC. 1967-
Seinfeld. Creators: Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld. Castle Rock Entertainment. 1990-1998.
Sesame Street. Creator: Joan Ganz Cooney. Children's Television Workshop (CTW). 1969-
The Daily Barometer. “Lady Gaga: Genius freak or just plain freaky?” Amanda Rappe. Accessed June 27, 2010.
Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia Accessed June 27, 2010.

Romy Shiller is a pop culture critic and holds a PhD in Drama from the University of Toronto. Her academic areas of concentration include film, gender performance, camp and critical thought. She lives in Montreal where she continues her writing. All books are available online.


If you wish to contact Romy Shiller, feel free to email her at


  1. Great article. I loved the Henry James quote about criticism, gonna yoink that for myself.

    And your observation about the Seinfeld cast dressing up to appear rocker, when Jerry criticises Gaga for her appearance is spot on.

    Jonathan from spritzophrenia :)

  2. great post! I an Aussie looking in...why Americans just keep repeating this same objection to difference. I couldnt help but think of Micheal Jackson and the grief he was given. In Australia we have a strong 'tall-poppy syndrome'. I wonder whether ultimately Americans dont have the same?


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