Joker: Folie à Deux - Lady Gaga and the Crown Prince of Crime

It’s just delusional disorder in the DSM, now.

I’m definitely okay with the title, myself. The lack of confidence in the marketing just dismays me. Or maybe the cynicism.

Unlike Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga has actually been the star performer in her own Superbowl halftime show. I kind of doubt she’s trying to shoehorn her way onto the stage. She’s doing projects that interest her, as she’s always done.

Don’t care about the Joker 2 discourse, but I am here for the Gaga talk.

There was a time when Lady Gaga seemed to soundtrack my life. Every time I went out or to a party or turned on the radio, I’d invariably hear Gaga. I remember in a grad school class about celebrity there was a discussion about then-contemporary pop stars and the professor thought Lady Gaga’s career would have longer legs than Taylor Swift. To her, Lady Gaga was the new Madonna while she noted people like Swift who use innocence as part of their appeal (paraphrasing her words) have more difficulty navigating trappings of stardom. Pretty big whiff on her part in hindsight, but to be fair everyone in the class agreed with her that Gaga was the pop star of this generation.

Lady Gaga’s whole thing is that she’s a celebrity, so it makes sense she’d do things to keep her name out there as her pop stardom fades. Even so, I think she’s managed her career pretty well the last several years. As said, it’s hard to be an S-tier popstar for long periods of time—everyone listens to pop music in theory, but it’s still marketed to and driven by fickle young people. With the rise in parasocial online relationships in youth culture, you could postulate that Gens Z and Alpha are altogether less enamored with Lady Gaga’s art school / theatre kid affectations than millennials were. Standard disclaimer that authenticity is a myth, everything is performative, etc., but there’s certainly extra layers of artifice built on Lady Gaga (the public persona, not necessarily the person) than, say, Olivia Rodrigo. That was one of the reasons the prof and the class thought she’d have a longer career than Swift, in fact. But, consequently, it’s easier to listen to someone like Rodrigo and think about the characters in their songs “I know this person / I am this person,” doubly so if you’re a teenager or young adult. It’s hard to relate on the same level with the people in Lady Gaga’s songs which, as presented, are often more force of nature than people.

So, she’s branched out into film, made traditional vocal pop albums with Tony Bennett, and still puts up respectable numbers with her most recent pop music, though the latter is often tethered to either films or younger, buzzier pop stars. Plus, she has a solid fan base of aging millennials and queer people that are likely to stick around until and unless she does something truly embarrassing. That’s not so bad.

Not everyone gets to be Madonna, but Gaga’s trajectory looks pretty good when stacked up against most of her ~2010 pop peers (using ‘pop’ and ‘peers’ in a stricter sense here, so no rappers like Drake, or older artists like Beyoncé). Of those, it seems that only Swift and Miley Cyrus are measurably more successful pop musicians these days, and both had periods spent in the pop wilderness (and again it must be said, lol my prof’s point about ‘innocent’ pop stars having short careers; the prof was cool, just very wrong about this looking back). OTOH, compare Gaga to the likes of Katy Perry or Kesha or loads of others whose names I’d have to look up and Gaga’s post-imperial phase is looking pretty good, even disregarding her film career.

I mean, I don’t believe that Lady Gaga is even her given name and rank!

Well said.

I think the person we might compare her to eventually is Cher. I don’t think that’s a bad place to be as a career goes. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if she were to step away from music for a time then eventually have a major resurgence, just as Cher did.

I’d argue Billie Eilish fills this role capably for Gen Zers.

I guess? Swift is a force of nature–a $billion tour is insane, but who could possibly have predicted that. She’s a shitty singer, writes dumb lyrics, and can’t really dance. I watched the Eras tour video to see what the big deal was and yeah, it’s a spectacle, but so highly staged and choreographed and empty. Maybe all pop music is like that? But I watch Billie or Olivia or Dua perform and they emote and gush and speak awkwardly. Swift does have a magnetic stage presence because she’s been on stage since she was a kid, but she doesn’t fit the mold of typical pop stars. She’s photogenic for now and trades in on her relatability more than her innocence, but she’s also a megarich pop star who has been rich and famous her whole life. I wonder how pregnancy would affect her public image.

Gaga hasn’t released an original solo album since 2020. Chromatica released that year and–as with all off her albums–topped the Billboard charts at number one. She toured in 2022 and was the highest grossing female artist that year. I don’t think her singing career is over. She may yet have more longevity than Swift. Crucially, her popularity doesn’t depend on her looks and she’s been extremely savvy about how she uses her physical presence and how she positions herself with her fans–notably as a champion of alternate sexual lifestyles and darling of gay men. Madonna was relevant well into her 50’s I think Stefani Germanotta has another decade or two in the spotlight as well.

(By the way, speaking of Beyonce (who, for what it’s worth is only 4 years older than Lady Gaga) her new country album is fucking spectacular.)

I’m not qualified (nor interested enough, tbh) to speak intelligently on the subject much, i was just surprised to see Lady Gaga in Fortnite - this feels like a marketing miss, tbh - and in a medical ad for the at-home-at 2pm audience, and that seemed to convey some information about her.

Probably the cringiest thing i’ve seen recently was, of all things, a Katy Perry Alienware proprietary game styled similar to artwork from Jonathan Blow’s Braid, which was catchphrased “Help Katy find her smile!”. Selling people on a custom Katy Perry game to sell Alienware gaming computers? Ouch.

Taylor Swift’s appeal is clearly “Straight, middle class white girl music”, and she’s unapologetically that, and she (apparently) runs her entire personal life delivering that, and she’s been rewarded with the kind of meme-like success for it. Olivia Rodrigo is aiming at the ‘popular, hot high school / college girl’ music demographic. I don’t get Dua Lipa, she seems to be hitting the “I want to be a European runway Model” demo.

Gaga does seem maybe the best musician. Bloody Mary is a perfect female pop song post-Madonna; it could have been released at any point in the last 25 years.

That looks fascinating, but I find myself wondering, based on that trailer, if this wouldn’t be a better film without being attached to these characters. I have a hard time imagining the typical superhero moviegoer liking this.

I didn’t think the previous one would either, but here we are.

Oh god yes, this looks gloriously insane.

It’s interesting to me that either this not a full musical as early studio press said, or it is but WB is still shy about marketing it as a musical since no one sings in the trailer.

Cinematography looks on point, as expected.

This looks great. Unless reviews pan it, I’ll make my way to the theater for this.

Phoenix should lay off the historical dramas and concentrate on superhero movies.

And I think that this joker will work great with Pattinson’s pervy Batman.

Great trailer.

This is literally every musical.

The “Wicked” trailer barely had music in it.

Taylor Swift starred in, had all the songs in, and financed a $261m grossing movie last year. Pretty sure it’s advantage Swift.

Apparently not the issue in this case.

I like Joaquin Phoenix’s take on the joker. Different direction, but just as genuine as Heath Ledger.

The cinematography in that trailer was on the level of award winning just from the snippets. That, along with the two big stars will certainly propel some to watch it.

Still, I’m not the biggest superhero movie fan and I tire of the need for us to have origin films for every fucking character at this point. So now we get … a love story of two antiheros, with something of a musical attached to it in some way.

I’m kidding myself thinking I’ll skip it, but if I were a movie exec listening to the pitch for this I’d be nervous. This does NOT seem like the equivalent of the original idea that took home one billion at the box office. Here’s hoping they keep the budget tight, I’m not sure how this could make that rake again.