Thursday, 25 November 2010

Aronofsky, Fox, ‘The Wolverine’: Commercial Disaster, or Genre Magnum Opus?

Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream was one of my 10 greatest movies of the Noughties: a parable on the horrors of addiction that should be mandatory viewing for every kid in Europe and America. Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain and The Wrestler are two of my worst films of the Noughties: self-indulgent exercises in interminable pretention that impressed no one but the snooty in society.

Darren Aronofsky's new film is Black Swan, which looks insane but still as portentous as his last two movies. The film premiered at this year's Venice Film Festival and received mixed reviews, though most critics agree that the usually dull and stiff Natalie Portman, who stars in the lead role, is almost guaranteed a Best Actress Oscar nomination next year. Fox Searchlight seems heartened by Black Swan; convinced that the film will be more than just a cult favourite. Perhaps that's why Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos ― joint co-chairmen-CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment, and once voted by the now defunct Premiere magazine as the two most powerful people in Hollywood ― have signed Aronofsky to a new two-year overall deal under which his production company, Protozoa Pictures, will develop and produce films for both Twentieth Century Fox and Fox Searchlight Pictures. If that wasn't enough, Aronofsky will helm the next instalment of Fox's blockbuster X-Men spinoff, THE WOLVERINE.

Aronofsky is not necessarily the most obvious choice to direct such a lucrative superhero movie. Aronofsky's films are somewhat arthouse and play more leftfield as the stories he tackles are arguably challenging and confrontational. The Fountain was an expensive experiment that at one time had Brad Pitt attached to star, though he seemed to switch on to the fact that there was little substance to the story and negotiated a deal with Warner Bros. to star in Troy in exchange for dropping out of Aronofsky's film. Warner's agreed to restart production on The Fountain with Hugh Jackman replacing Brad Pitt as long as the $70 million budget was shaved to $35 million and production was moved from Australia to a sound stage in Montreal. The Fountain flopped: badly. A couple of years later Aronofsky came back with a project called The Wrestler that was to star Nicholas Cage in the lead role, but Cage left, though this time not so much because of lack of faith in the story but because Aronofsky really wanted former boxer Mickey Rourke to play the lead role. The Wrestler was made on a budget of $6 million and grossed $44.5 million: a success, but still a pretty average movie that failed to win Rourke the expected Best Actor Oscar at last year's ceremony.

Why then does Fox want Aronofsky to direct their special-effects charged Wolverine movie? When David Poland of Movie City News interviewed Aronofsky last week he said that it was a "gutsy" move for Tom Rothman to hire Aronofsky to direct The Wolverine. Aronofsky responded, saying: "[Tom Rothman] doesn't even know how 'gutsy' it is," and burst out laughing. Poland was keen to press on how Aronofsky's lack of commercial pandering may stand in opposition to what is expected from an established superhero franchise. Aronofsky said: "Every single film I've done so far, I've been the only person in the room who wants to make the movie, and I'm kind of excited about doing a film where actually everyone wants to make it. Just to see what the experience is like and see if I can do what I do in that world." The director confidently declared to Poland: "I think I'm being hired because of who I am. I'm not being hired to turn into someone. I'm being hired to do what I do." He added: "I don't know exactly if [Rothman] knows what he bought [because] we're definitely going to make something great. But it will be very different and that's what I do." Aronofsky concluded the interview by saying The Wolverine will be a standalone feature and will not interchange secondary characters or plotlines from previous movies featuring the clawed superhero.

It's good for a director to be balls-out and stand their ground regarding the vision they've got for the movie they're about to make. Confidence is one thing but Aronofsky seems to forget that Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos had similar intentions for last year's X-Men Origins: Wolverine by hiring Gavin Hood, the Academy Award winning director of South African film Tsotsi and helmer of New Line Cinema's Iraq war drama Rendition, to direct the superhero spinoff. Tastemakers were impressed by Fox's praiseworthy selection of Gavin Hood, but ultimately the director delivered a film that was less interested in action and more focused on character. Hood and Fox argued over the film's direction, especially in the depiction of Wolverine as an Army veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, with the executives arguing that audiences would not be interested in such heavy themes. The studio had two replacement directors lined up before agreeing to fly Richard Donner, director of Superman and Lethal Weapon, to Australia to shepherd the production away from Hood's existential mood piece. If anything, this goes to show that although Fox are feeling like groundbreakers for having hired Aronofsky to helm The Wolverine, his unconventional vision may be far from the digestible and marketable superhero film they're really wanting.

Some have argued against this, most notably American writer Brad Brevet of Rope of Silicone who responded to my criticisms by saying, "I understand your point, but I would never compare Gavin Hood and Aronofsky in this case, primarily due to their differing film backgrounds. Of course, if [Fox] doesn't like it they can always mess with it in the end, but I have a feeling they think they are going the Christopher Nolan/Batman Begins route here and going to go with it..."

Brevet has a point but a part of me thinks he may be leaning more towards wishful thinking as there are many commercial properties that attach auteur filmmakers only to discover they haven't delivered a saleable movie that meets audience expectations. In 2005, Warner's hired Spike Jonze to film Where the Wild Things Are which failed to meet multiple release dates as the studio was agonising over the film's non-kid friendly treatment and engaged in a series of tweaks and reshoots. The finished film was a masterpiece, but with a budget in excess of $100 million, Where the Wild Things Are couldn't even break even.

Aronofsky seems to have wanted to break into commercial features for some years now having previously been attached to Warner's reinvention of Batman before Christopher Nolan took over and was earlier signed to MGM's superfluous remake of Robocop that was recently cancelled by the studio because of ongoing internal business predicaments.

It's hard not to be cynical about The Wolverine but by stepping back and looking at the bigger picture it seems reasonable to be suspicious of Aronofsky, Rothman and Gianopulos' proclamations. To be fair, I don't hold Aronofsky's storytelling skills too high but he did direct one of my all time favourite junkie movies. There is hope that Aronofsky's edgy direction, and his regular creative collaborators in cinematographer Matthew Libatique and composer Clint Mansell, may create a superhero movie of distinct authorship: then again, Fox should still keep Richard Donner's number on speed dial just in case.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Television Killed the Radio Star

YUCK is a new indie band from North London comprised of awkward looking Jewish guys with mad hair who derive their inspiration from the alternative music scene of the very late 80s and early 90s. There is nothing revelatory about their sound but British radio is totally in love with the group. There is a retro quality to their latest song The Wall that transports the listener back to 1993 when The Pixies, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Lemmonheads, Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth were all popular indie acts. The Wall catapults you to a time when MTV had a flagship show called 120 Minutes that used to feature wall-to-wall songs like it and Alan McGee's (who is incidentally a Yuck fan) Creation record label was churning out 'shoegazing' melodies of similar ilk. The music press has immediately warmed to Yuck with the Guardian's Paul Lester praising them at a time when they still didn't even have a record deal. Radio 1's prognosticator of hip sounds, Zane Lowe, named The Wall 'the hottest record' of the month and XFM have ranked the single in a more than favourable position on the radio station's playlist.

The question is: Does anyone still care about what songs the radio promotes, or are young folk more receptive to the types of music they hear on television shows and therefore more likely to buy songs that feature on those popular programmes?

When Phantom Planet had their hit song California used as the intro to The OC it boosted the band's popularity but dented its credibility as a serious rock act. Those who are earnest about music called the band 'sellouts', but the last 5 years has seen a sea change in the way musicians approach their music appearing on hit television shows, especially in America where Dawn Soler, ABC's VP of TV and Music, told Variety: "Five years ago, we were still at the point where we were begging bands to be a part of television; you had to go through all these approval processes and make it worth their while, but in the last four years, television has really become the new radio. It is absolutely the way people are discovering new music."

It seems the increasing difficulty of breaking new artists, coupled with crowded online marketing, has resulted in communication clutter, meaning Coldplay wouldn't stand a chance of conquering the States like they did a decade ago, that is unless they signed up for an all singing and dancing stint on Glee, which the rumour mill suggests they are in the process of doing.

This new TV/ music relationship is being taken very seriously and bands are now coming on board in a way that would have been unimaginable a few years back. The American CW Network ― a joint venture between Time Warner & CBS Networks, and makers of hit shows like Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, True Blood and The Vampire Dairies ― broadcasts programmes targeting women between 18 to 34 years of age. Their track record demonstrates that the CW Network is extremely successful at what it does and both new and old bands want a piece of the action. Leonard Richardson, VP of music at the CW Network, argues that "[Record] labels have always been interested in licensing, but the perception changed more so with artists than with labels. I think at one point artists felt like, 'Oh, I don't want my music used in this or that, and I want people to buy it just for the music as opposed to tied to a product or a TV show.' The industry squeeze made people re-evaluate that."

Leonard Richardson is obviously shit-hot at what he does. He came up with a promotion whereby information about artists and their albums would be shown on "ad cards" at the end of a show like Gossip Girl in exchange for a reduced licensing fee. This was so successful that they launched a "platinum series" for platinum-selling artists, showing a clip from their latest music video as well as album info. Last season, Kanye West and Green Day were featured and both yielded boosted sales in return. Even British acts like Nadia Oh got her relatively unknown track Got Ur Number on Gossip Girl and had a better response Stateside than what she ever got here in Blighty. Lady GaGa went one better by appearing on the show in person and justified her shameless promotion of Bad Romance as "performance art"; but Richardson is more honest in stating that every time GaGa's song was played it essentially resulted in increased song sales. Richardson is a genius at music placement, getting hold of Ke$ha's song Tik Tok before it went on sale and, based on sheer voice recognition, teenage girls were buzzing about the track on Twitter and Facebook before it had even been released. It's no wonder that Ke$ha is now one of America's best selling pop singers.

Now, neither Yuck nor their new song are looking to seek out Leonard Richardson's support, but is British television missing out by not actively developing the type of productive synergy American record labels have struck with U.S. television broadcasters? There are British shows like Skins and The Inbetweeners that are huge hits with the youth market but they often feature songs that have already become popular, thus they don't make an effort to explore new sounds that may connect with their audiences. There is a problem in that British television broadcasters have no idea of how to come up with ingenious systems like the Americans have developed. Last year the BBC made its Music FastClear service available online, allowing independent production companies to immediately clear music rights themselves, but that isn't going far enough. There is some great music coming out of this country right now and if producers were more proactive then a very beneficial symbiotic relationship between the two industries can be forged.

At least Britain's still got the good old national jukebox at the Eastenders cafe which continues to spew out nonspecific Top 10 hits. If it ain't broke then what's the point of fixing it.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Finding Fortunes

News came the other week that Roland Emmerich's next movie will be a severely low budget sci-fi flick called THE ZONE. Days later Borys Kit wrote in The Hollywood Reporter that Emmerich has decided to shelve the project, indefinitely. That seems such a shame because Emmerich is an interesting filmmaker who is now choosing projects outside the epic disaster blockbuster banner he has actively shaped for the last 20 years. Although The Zone was to be an alien invasion picture like Emmerich's Independence Day, its framework was more distinct as it was to be produced for a chicken-change $5 million and was to be entirely comprised of a 'found footage' narrative style.

What seemed like an atypical venture for Emmerich seemed far too typical for everyone else as The Zone would have been another addition to the whole 'found footage' technique that is ubiquitous in current genre filmmaking. Last month's record breaking arrival of Paranormal Activity 2; added with innumerable 'found footage' successes like Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, The Last Exorcism and the original Paranormal Activity; indicated the whole affectation of fake documentary style is being far too over-exposed. Even international cinema is cashing in on the faux documentary craze with Norway scoring major buzz with Troll Hunter, the premise being the Norwegian government has been hiding the existence of trolls of all sizes and a team of film students go about trying to capture the monsters on their handheld cameras. Most worrying for Emmerich must have been Timur Bekmambetov's Apollo 18, a space mission gone wrong thriller that also utilises the whole 'found footage' phenomena. Apollo 18 hits theatres next spring, a similar release date to what Emmerich's movie was aiming for. So annoyed is the world at Emmerich's decision to shelve The Zone that the Guardian's Ben Child contacted Emmerich's office in LA who issued a statement saying: "This is not a project [Emmerich] is pursuing at this time." It's a bummer because Emmerich was to commence filming on The Zone this very week. His last minute decision to cancel The Zone coincided with Warner Bros. announcement that they'd also be ditching their plans to make Dark Moon from a spec script written by Olatunde Osunsanmi, which uses the conceit that NASA's manned moon missions did not stop with Apollo 17, thus a black ops team is sent to explore previously classified lunar discoveries where they come in contact with scary aliens and it's all caught on camera. Though Warner's pulled out of Dark Moon, Joel Silver's fantasy shingle Dark Castle moved in to produce and will shoot this winter. Ironically, Dark Castle has an output deal with Warner's meaning the studio will distribute the finished film after all.

The documentary approach to genre filmmaking is being overused, but that is only because it's cheap to manufacture and young audiences respond mightily well to it. Roland Emmerich was gearing up The Zone with actors Peter Mackenzie and Brandon Scott ― who were cast as a journalist and a cameraman, respectively ― rehearsing the improvised script with the director in Hollywood and a production team was in place to start filming. Columbia Pictures had even purchased The Zone as a negative pick-up and were ready to cultivate a genius marketing campaign to promote the film's scheduled spring release. With a bargain price tag and such a brilliant director on board to helm the feature, one can't help but think this will go down as a major lost opportunity. Perhaps the most likely possibility is that whilst locked in rehearsals, Emmerich realised he could not add anything new to the 'found footage' tradition and thus decided to bail on the project. Therefore, this is a creative decision more than anything other.

The key is not to underestimate the documentarian storytelling method in genre films. Paranormal Activity 2 managed to have its cake and eat it by producing a film that's massively redolent of what came before yet still delivers a fitting story in an intensely creepy way. One of the most beguiling films of this season is Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman's CATFISH, which is a 'documentary' that follows Schulman's brother Nev, a New York photographer, as he meets a girl on the internet and develops an intense cyber relationship with her only to discover all is not what it seems. Suspecting that the said girl and her family are being deceptive, Nev goes out to Michigan to confront them and his eventual discovery is shocking; though not in a way you'd ever expect. Catfish screened at this year's Sundance Film Festival and was locked in a bidding war between Reliance Media and Paramount Pictures, the former winning out in the end and releasing the film through Universal Pictures. Momentum will release Catfish in the UK next month, hoping to capitalise on the $3 million-plus it's made at the U.S. box-office to date. What Catfish demonstrates is the power of watching a story unfolding through the cameras and lenses of real people capturing events in real time. Unlike Emmerich's project, Catfish isn't pretending to be anything other than an actual documentary. Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman stand by their claims that what they've caught on camera is real, but others have disputed this arguing that the documentary is highly manipulative and largely fictitious. In any case, Catfish is a film for our times, examining the psyches and relationships of a culture that's constantly wired in and often gets caught out because of that. This narrative style is massively cogent and speaks to young audiences in a way that traditional methods cannot.

Just the very notion of Roland Emmerich sidestepping his regular $100 million budgeted spectacles in favour of The Zone totally had me psyched, but alas, it wasn't meant to be. Still, if the current love for documentary style stories like Catfish remains then we may be living in a golden age of 'found footage' cinema.

Friday, 12 November 2010

From the ‘Brit List’ to the ‘Black List’

Last week saw the publication of 'The Brit List' – a reactionary response by the British cottage film industry to try and ape the American 'Blacklist'. Both of these lists are catalogues of the best unproduced indigenous screenplays voted for by industry people over the year. Whilst in the U.S. scripts for Juno, The Social Network and Mel Gibson's next movie The Beaver were all featured on the Blacklist and went on to become major films, one can't help but wonder if any screenplay included on the Brit List will go on to become hit films. For example, previous winners of the Brit List were Men Who Stare at Goats and Nowhere Boy, both being British films that got made but hardly generated the type of adoration some of the screenplays featured in the Black List have managed. Last year's Brit List winner was Good Luck Anthony Belcher which remains unmade and has the awful She's Out of my League's director Jim Filed-Smith signed on to helm. This year's Brit List winner with eight votes is Sex Education by Jamie Minoprio and Jonathan M. Stern who previously penned the very funny on paper I Want Candy and the very shitty on film St. Trinian's reboots – though they can't be entirely blamed for the latter as they only did script rewrites to Piers Ashworth's original draft. Oscar winning producer Christian Colson (Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours) fares best of all as three of the shortlisted Brit List scripts are optioned and developed by his production company Cloud Eight Films. While there are some high profile properties like On Chisil Beach and Jamaica Inn, and some interesting scripts like Shan Khan's Honour (having previously written the excellent Prayer Room which hinted that he may be Britain's answer to Spike Lee), there's nothing on the Brit List that makes you believe the featured works will go on to become major films. Chances are that all of Colson's films will go the way of his last British movie Centurion which on its release didn't even manage to penetrate the UK top 10. Sex Education will probably flop in a similar way to I Want Candy as the British are largely incapable of producing smart ribald comedies without infusing them with copious amounts of unfunny smut. Honour will probably fail to secure necessary funding because financiers will fear that the controversial subject matter about honour killings in British Asian communities will render the project un-commercial. Furthermore, for every On Chisil Beach there's an Enduring Love, and for every Jamaica Inn there's a Birds II: Land's End – not a good sign.

So while the British film industry polishes its own dick, we film enthusiasts look to America for movies worth watching. Not even British audiences can be fucked seeing British films as can be seen by the recent hyped up arrivals of Made in Dagenham and Tamara Drewe, both of which came on a flurry of publicity and neither attained love from punters who actually pay to watch films. You can't blame the British film industry for trying because the way things are going there won't be any industry other than what Hollywood creates by buying up cheap studio space for their own features to be filmed in. Warner Bros. announcement this week of buying Leavesden Studios where they will invest a further £100 million to redevelop the site seems like great news, but with volatile currency rates and the abolition of the UK Film Council there's reason to suspect Warner's commitment will not live beyond 2015. After all, American studios are in it for themselves and want a reliable base to shoot their own movies at cheaper rates. The purchase of Leavesden Studios doesn't signify a wanton desire for Warner's to make British stories as the studio's head of production, Alan Horn, has gone on record saying their commitments are now to develop tentpole DC comic book properties, practically all of which are American stories. Horn at this year's Showest convention said: "As we ease out of Harry Potter, we hope to bring you the excitement of the DC [Comics] Library," which pretty much affirms where Warner's emphasis will be focussed.

Truth be told, writing a quality screenplay seems like a very difficult task. Scriptwriting is a craft that requires amazing skill at creating characters, dialogue, structure, pace and atmosphere – all in the blueprint for a story that is to be told visually. A further truth is that no one has mastered the art of scriptwriting better than the Americans. We are now in awards season meaning that at this time of year you get some very good screenplays vying for Oscar consideration. No doubt the bulk of these scripts will be American, with a few British titles like The King's Speech thrown in for good measure. The Hollywood Reporter has begun its annual 'Awards Watch Roundtable' discussions where they gather as many of the best key talents they think will feature highly in this year's awards season and get them to engage in debates concerning their films and craft. On the subject of scriptwriting, they've started this year's debates by bringing together Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network), Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours), Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3), John Wells (The Company Men), Todd Phillips (Due Date) and David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole): all of them candidly discussing the highs and lows of writing movies. The video is over 1 hour in length but it's worth sticking to even if you're not verily into cinema as for the most part it's a bunch of seriously clever men talking about very interesting things. Though some may scoff at the inclusion of Todd Phillips in this debate, having watched Due Date the other day I was amazed at how well he managed to balance coarse humour with genuine heartfelt emotions such as the scenes in which Zach Galifianakis laments the passing of his father whist also doing something maddeningly buffoonish. These scenes in Due Date demonstrate Phillips' skills in both comedic precision and dramatic performance. Also, the video illustrates the contrasts between American writers like Phillips and Sorkin who seem to have a very anti-unionist attitude towards the Writers' Guild of America, whereas Yorkshire man Simon Beaufoy has a more socialistically sympathetic approach to what the union is there to do and wishes something similar existed for British scriptwriters. It is brilliant stuff and reminds us of why we love cinema so much.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The World’s Gone GaGa

In 2008, less than 2 years ago, the British pop music landscape was familiarising itself with the arrivals of Katy Perry, Alexandra Burke, Diana Vickers, JLS and some others. What most people had no idea about was an artist calling herself LADY GAGA. It's hard to believe that until January 2009 Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (Lady GaGa to the rest of us) was not even a blip on the radio waves and it was only last year that she acquired a degree of prominence with the introduction of her debut single Just Dance a track produced and co-written by hip Muslim dance producer ― and the key developer of GaGa's sound ― Nadir Khayat (aka: RedOne). Accompanied by a generically hipster music video directed by Melina Matsoukas, Just Dance stormed the global pop charts selling over 7.7 million units to date. Intellectually, Just Dance may have been interpreted as a two-fingered rebuke to the deepening credit crisis and rampant unemployment of the time: a statement of not getting bogged down by the hardships and dancing out of adversity; but in all honesty the single was a calling card signalling GaGa as the latest addition to the sorority of 20-something manufactured pop starlets who are as much about image and stylisation as they are about slick music production. In a time of music industries crashing and burning, GaGa is arguably the music industry's last stab at making itself important.

A surface admiration of all things GaGa is fine, but news came last week that the University of South Carolina has developed a sociology course dedicated to the life, work and rise to fame of Lady GaGa. The course aims to analyse the sociological framework of popular culture and music, specifically focusing on socially relevant elements in the rise of GaGa's popularity to her current status as a 21st Century pop music icon. The course will be taught by Belgian born sociologist, Professor Mathieu Deflem, whose research interests include counter-terrorism, international policing, crime control and internet technology: topics that seem far worthier than the analysis of a pop star who hasn't been around long enough to deserve this type of intellectual veneration. It seems far too premature to read so deeply into GaGa's 10 million followers on Facebook and Twitter as something more than a simple by-product of an incipient cyber fanbase that decrees its adoration through totemistic membership. When we distil the phenomena of Lady GaGa there's not much to praise other than masterful marketing and genius global positioning.

More disappointing is the amount of press coverage Lady GaGa has received from broadsheet newspapers that seem to think of her as a bigger cultural icon than what she actually is. GaGa has gone on record outlining her myriad of musically eccentric influences, citing everyone from Grace Jones, Freddie Mercury and David Bowie; though it seems she garnered the wrath of M.I.A.'s Maya Arulpragasam when she described the Sri Lankan as her "fellow hard working female art student," in turn comparing and identifying with her groundbreaking work ethic. M.I.A. was understandably none too pleased, stating, "People say we're similar, that we both mix all these things in the pot and spit them out differently, but [GaGa] spits it out exactly the same. None of her music's reflective of how weird she wants to be or thinks she is." M.I.A. added, "She models herself on Grace Jones and Madonna but the music sounds like 20 year-old Ibiza disco. She's not progressive, but she's a good mimic. She sounds more like me than I fucking do! That's a talent."

M.I.A.'s vitriol is now being echoed by others, with Grace Jones saying she was irritated by GaGa's imitation of her style, proclaiming, "I've seen some things she's worn that I've worn, and that does kind of piss me off." Camille Paglia in The Sunday Times, a newspaper that was originally appreciative of GaGa's style, now asserts that she "is more an identity thief than an erotic taboo breaker, a mainstream manufactured product who claims to be singing for the freaks, the rebellious and the dispossessed when she is none of those." Kitty Empire wrote in The Guardian that "[GaGa's music] allows the viewer to have a 'transgressive' experience without being required to think."

What Lady GaGa is isn't something to be scoffed at. She is an icon to millions of international audiences who at once want a safe sound to buy into, but also the artifice of it being something unique and special. Her 8 awards for Bad Romance at this year's MTV Music Video Awards was the most since a-ha's Take on Me in 1986, though not as much as Peter Gabriel's 9 wins for Sledgehammer in 1987. It was at this year's MTV awards ceremony that GaGa dedicated her historic win to her legions of fans, addressing them as her 'Little Monsters' ― a term she and they adorn with relish. By calling themselves 'Little Monsters' hints that both GaGa and her fans are a part of some counter-cultural movement, but that seems total nonsense when one engages in a critical assessment of her standardised sound and image. Lady GaGa has been crafted into a serviceable interpretation of what the current music scene is all about with acts like Christina Aguilera effortlessly aping the former's beats and aesthetics in her last album Bionic. Likewise, it can be argued that GaGa's breakout hit Just Dance was merely an imitation of Aguilera's promiscuous image and sound developed in her 2002 album Stripped. This really is the self-cannibalisation of modern pop music.

There isn't an issue in Lady GaGa being an internationally fashion and style icon. There is not even an issue about her music being designed to appeal to the masses without forcing them to demand more in terms of originality and scope. The problem is that of smart people who should know better ballooning GaGa's cultural importance into something it most certainly isn't. GaGa is not the panacea to homogenised manufactured music as her very own music conforms to those exact principals, demanding little exertion on the part of the listener. Her current fanbase comprises mainly of teenage school girls and middle-aged gay men, both of whom share bizarrely simpatico music tastes. Despite this, it's hard to think that Lady GaGa's music and celebrity status will carry the same resonance in 10 years time.