Lady Gaga and Joplin:High School Days

18 Jun

This week Lady Gaga caused quite the stir, showing up at a graduation at her former  high school  in a characteristically eccentric get up. Complete in beekeeper hat and see-through lace pants, many cried foul that Gaga was trying to once again upstage the rest of attendees.

But Gaga would be the first to refute accusations of cheap attention ploys. Formerly  Stefani Germanotta, Gaga maintains that fashion is an expression of identity, and a full embrace of her true inner freak. The odd style of dress is a protest of conformity, as well as the standards and conventions regularly impressed upon free thinking in school days.

Lady Gaga in Highschool

When coming across these eye-popping images of Gaga, I couldn’t help but draw comparison to Janis Joplin, who pulled a similar stunt some 40 years ago.

Though she did not attend a ritzy private school for Manhattan elite, like Gaga, Joplin’s adolescence was very much defined by an outsider status. Her feeling of pain, rejection, alienation and damning heartbreak would come to define her music. Joplin reflected on her high school days as some of the darkest in her life, exclaiming that she had been “laughed out of class, out of school, out of town, out of the state”.

And indeed, Joplin would leave her small Texas town and seek liberation in the colorful Haight-Ashbury of San Francisco. In 1963, at the age of 20, the Joplin’s lost soul would encounter vibrant waves of Hippism and Blues. Unfettered in an atmosphere of freedom and love, Joplin would channel her sensitivity and torment into song.

Joplin in High School

Eventually gaining both critical and commercial success in the incredibly competitive record industry, Joplin re-visited the Texan town of Port Author for her ten year high school reunion. Like Gaga, Joplin was a spectacle, dressed in flamboyant garb and followed by cameras. Yet despite her popular following, Joplin was received coldly by her former classmates. Her own family rejected her, refusing to even acknowledge the advent of her visit. Rather than an opportunity to boast at former bullies, Joplin’s visit to her former high school was yet another display of her outsider status. Joplin’s chronic history of emotional pain and isolation eventually lead to her demise, as she would die, alone, through drug overdose.

There is no mistake that Gaga and Joplin are two very different characters in music. Gaga may have felt freakish in her adolescent years, but it is safe to say that it was Joplin who suffered severe internal devastation, coming from family and peers alike.

Nevertheless, at their former high schools both Gaga and Joplin took the opportunity to live out a popular fantasy. Being able to gloat at former naysayers is a victorious moment that one may often hope to experience, with some of us even eagerly practicing potential scenarios in daily life.

While some of us may never get to enjoy this kind of glory, or feel it as we would have imagined, it is no question that adversity powers great music.  The woe of the freak will continue to fuel our most cherished art, regardless of what popular views may govern.

4 Responses to “Lady Gaga and Joplin:High School Days”

  1. LADY&SKIN June 20, 2010 at 7:40 am #

    Hippism and Blues. Unfettered in an atmosphere of freedom and love, Joplin would

  2. lady gaga tickets June 20, 2010 at 9:34 pm #

    Lady Gaga sure did look alot different when she attended the high school.

  3. Lady Gaga Tickets July 23, 2010 at 7:31 am #

    Lady Gaga looks the best in this pic.. I love simplycity and this is the best example of it…!

  4. Laisha August 1, 2010 at 5:47 am #

    Gaga Gaga is The Best.

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