Before we get to the actual story I’m going to slap some background in here. A couple of weeks ago, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu met with pop star Katy Perry. KPP and Katy had fun in their interview, chatting back and forth, generally having a good time.
Katy is really complimentary to KPP. They had a ball getting to know each other and Katy seemed to really enjoy her company. For me, this is what I’d call a successful interview and cultural exchange. They are both two pop stars from two different countries who get along, and that’s something I’m thoroughly happy to see.
I don’t think this is what happened at all with Lady Gaga.
MusicStation is a popular channel here in Japan that, bet you couldn’t guess, mainly features musical artists and their latest creation/abomination that they want people to buy. Lady Gaga appeared last Saturday on the show, which was of course a huge deal because Lady Gaga is a huge international star. Also on the show was Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, who has expressed multiple upon multiple times that she is Gaga’s biggest fan ever, she’s gaga for Gaga.
As seen in the above picture, Lady Gaga decided to inspire her outfit with the Japanese fashion style of kawaii (cuteness overload), which is KPP’s shtick. Fans of Pamyu Pamyu have expressed no small amount of outrage at this seemingly upstaging of their idol’s fashion, which in Japan isn’t just a fashion choice it’s also a whole lifestyle. Ladies in Japan who take up kawaii like KPP live and breathe cute in everything they do, from the way they talk to the way they eat to the way they walk down the street.
Lady Gaga most likely saw her fashion choice as a Westerner views it, that it’s the tool you use to express yourself in the given moment. Therefore, when she came onto MusicStation decked out in her latest eccentric project, she kind of looked a little insulting. Not to mention the fact that the manga eyes she painted on her face are actually done wrong. But perhaps she can be forgiven! After all, she’s just trying to show that she loves Japanese sub-cultures. She’s a self-proclaimed Japanophile in the fashion sense, so all is well, right?
Not so much. If you couldn’t tell from the look on KPP’s face, the interview is disappointing, since she simply gets to sit in the background while Lady Gaga takes over. Also, all the ARASHI members are in the background looking displeased for some reason. I never could figure out why. MatsuJun even looks a little too stern, much more so than usual. I can only speculate on the why of it, but I’d put my money on the fact that it looks like she’s giving KPP the cold shoulder, ignoring her completely.
I know that Lady Gaga doesn’t most likely get to choose how the show gets set up and even who she can or can’t talk to during the show. However, I find it highly ironic that the song she’s set to sing is her latest single “Applause,” a song that’s all about fan love, and yet she’s appearing to stick her nose up at a fan that looks up to her as a role model in the pop industry.
It’s my hope that Lady Gaga and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu got to at least talk more backstage or maybe hung out somewhere in Harajuku and drowning in kawaii clothes. Yet, I think that this kind of interview didn’t exchange much of anything. No one learned anything new here. In terms of cultural exchange, I think this kind of platform dooms itself to failure from the beginning to the end anyway, since the type of interview is all about the big star and what she’s doing. I realize that wasn’t the goal for this show, and I realize that Gaga doesn’t owe KPP anything. Still, I think it is a shame when opportunities for something more than just talking about trends end up getting lost, and I don’t think that being aware of the culture behind the fashions is too much to ask from someone who claims to be an artist.
On that note, here’s “Applause” with a fuzzy blue key-tar at the end because Gaga: