It’s recently come to the internet’s attention that Lady Gaga has a newish bit in her live show where she climbs into a meat grinder to recreate the controversial 1978 Hustler Magazine cover depicting same (in an image Larry Flynt claimed was intended to be satirical):

As you can see, she was wearing one of her signature meat dresses at the time, and popped manically in and out of the thing while doing dance moves resembling the macarena.

My first and most shallow reaction to the video is that the extra weight looks good on Gaga, especially considering how much we now know about her battles with eating disorders and her not-always-healthy attempts to conform to a narrow ideal of beauty. And that’s not totally unrelated to the topic at hand, because her commentary on how society treats women’s bodies like meat, to be purchased, carved up and consumed, takes on new meaning with her current focus on body acceptance. (I don’t think it’s okay to do this figuratively to women or literally to animals, but that’s an argument for another post.)

That said, I feel like she could have crafted a better intro to the bit than this:

“In 1978, Larry Flint declared that women would no longer be treated like meat. On the cover of Hustler Magazine (and at the Born This Way Ball), meat is precisely how we treat women.”

I realize she specializes in cultural pastiche, and that it’s asking a lot from an artist to make them fully explain a political idea during the intro to “Poker Face.” But if that cover was so shitty, why is it okay to treat women like meat at the Born This Way Ball? Or is she being sarcastic? Is the image of the woman in the meat grinder cutesy and fun, or horrible and evil? Or is it only okay when a woman does it to herself? I love the way Gaga throws out meaning-laden images, and then, when we try to pin down exactly what they mean, tells us she’s an artist and we’re thinking too hard about them.

Then again, her words are certainly an improvement over what she said to Ellen back in 2010:

“If we don’t stand up for what we believe in and if we don’t fight for our rights, pretty soon we’re going to have as much rights as the meat on our own bones.”

Keep going, Gaga! You’ve almost reached art school sophomore levels of coherence.

(Via Gossip Cop)