Lady Gaga has used her latest column in V magazine to go after New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn and institutionalized critics in general. She'd much rather all the bloggers of the world be judging fashion instead of, you know, the professionals.
In the age of the Internet, when collections and performances are so accessible to the public and anyone can post a review on Facebook or Twitter, shouldn't columnists and reviewers, such as Cathy Horyn, employ a more modern and forward approach to criticism, one that separates them from the average individual at home on their laptop?...So how does someone like Ms. Horyn separate herself from the online pack? The reality of today's media is that there are no echelons, and if they're not careful, the most astute and educated journalists can be reduced to gossipers, while a 14-year-old who doesn't even have a high school locker yet can master social media engines and, incidentally, generate a specific, well-thought-out, debatable opinion about fashion and music that is then considered by 200 million people on Twitter.
Gaga's point seems to be that today we all get to have opinions, so why should one person's opinion matter more than another's? The critic's opinion, in this case Ms. Horyn's, matters because she is paid to go to just about every major fashion show and has been doing it for years. Her knowledge about the range of fashion that are being produced now and what has come before them is inherently valuable. So, while I can say that the new line from Lanvin looks a bunch of prairie pioneers on parade, good old Cathy can tell us why that is bad, what other collections have been similarly bad, and how, in the future, Lanvin might be able to avoid a similar travesty.
But Gaga doesn't see that. She'd much rather have Tavi Gevinson, the 15-year-old fashion wunderkind, type away on her blog what she thinks about clothes. Really? Tavi? A trite and uninspired choice for sure, but even if her blog is great, it doesn't mean we should sift through all of the nudniks with a Blogger account trying to get the "people's assessment" of fashion.
At the beginning of her column, Gaga says that critics, if speaking negatively about something, should inform the reader about why they're speaking negatively. She says, "But in reviews, should critics not reveal all the scientific, mathematical, and pertinent information to explain why the Titanic could not withstand the blow, or why other cruise ships were successful?" While the metaphor is strained (really, Gaga is not a very good writer and the whole column is strangely abstract), she's right, a critic should see something, assess it, synthesize it, and then explain their judgment of it and why they arrived at that judgment.
Gaga is not at all interested in taking her own advice. She dismisses Horyn and all critics categorically, and never makes one specific reference to something Horyn said. She doesn't even explain who Horyn writes for. Now, when Gaga is being critical of something—and she is being a critic here—where is all this "pertinent information" she's talking about? This is just like her last column, which was about how people had to do their homework but then Gaga spelled someone's name wrong and attributed a quote to the wrong source. Apparently practicing and preaching are mutually exclusive for the Big G.
You're right, Gaga, there is nothing more boring than a critic who is always negative, but without people who are legitimately critical of the fashion industry, the whole enterprise would just be people walking around saying, "Fabulous, darling. Simply marvelous," while blowing air kisses at each other and publishing the PR department's press releases on their blogs so that they can get free clothes and better seats during Fashion Week. We need professional critics like miss Horyn. We also need professional singers. So why don't you get back in the recording studio and leave the writing to the pros?
[Image via Getty]