• Mon, Jul 18 2011

Did Lady Gaga Steal Bette Midler’s Handicapped Mermaid Character?

Lady Gaga draws inspiration from many sources. Club kids, Madonna, Grace Jones, fashion punks, Cruella de Vil, Japan, monster movies, the steak she just had at Sizzler, your wildest Ambien nightmares…the list goes on. Generally, people are not surprised when they notice these influences. She’s all about postmodern pastiche, okay? But once in a while, Lady G steals something so weird that the person who invented that something gets pissed off at her. Most recently, that something was a handicapped mermaid persona, and that someone was Bette Midler.

“Dear @ladygaga,” tweeted Midler this past Saturday. “Ive been doing singing mermaid in a wheelchair since 1980-You can keep the meat dress and the firecracker tits-mermaid’s mine.” Them’s fightin’ words! But as much as I would’ve liked to watch the two divas have an epic underwater wheelchair battle, Gaga never replied. Instead, Midler reconsidered her stance and tweeted “@ladygaga, let’s drink this over at the Emmys in September. Fabulous mermaids can coexist!”

It’s probably a wise move for Midler to stay on friendly terms with the current queen of pop, but I do feel somewhat bad for her. If you’d gone to the trouble of inventing an original character and performing as her for years, you’d probably be annoyed if someone stole it, too. Gaga wasn’t even born yet in 1980! And yet…maybe there is room for more than one singing, handicapped mermaid in popular culture. Maybe this will spark some sort of wheelchair mermaid trend, and soon young women the world over will be dressing up like Delores Delago (Midler’s character) and/or Yuyi (Gaga’s mermaid is Japanese, apparently). Fashion is strange.

One important question lingers, though: what use would a mermaid have for a wheelchair under the sea? It’s for these kinds of questions that Twitter was tailor-made.

(Via Rolling Stone)

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