With this one, who I will call Doris, I thought she was trying on other people’s outfits: she’s a baby in a closet full of other people’s clothes, a little girl playing dress-up, putting on shoes that don’t fit. I could see what she wanted to be when I watched her doing something when she started out that was starker and purer. Deep down, she doesn’t want to do all the dressing-up nonsense; she loses herself inside all the play-acting.
The problem with the Dorises and the Nicki Minajes and Mileys is that they reach their goal very quickly. There is no long-term vision, and they forget that once you get into that whirlpool then you have to fight the system that solidifies around you in order to keep being the outsider you claim you represent. There will always be a replacement coming along very soon – a newer version, a crazier version, a louder version. So if you haven’t got a long-term plan, then you are merely a passing phase, the latest trend, yesterday’s event.
They dress up as though they are challenging the status quo, but by now, wearing those clothes, pulling those faces, revealing those tattoos and breasts, singing to those fractured, spastic, melting beats – that is the status quo. You are not off the beaten track, pushing through the thorny undergrowth, finding treasure no one has come across before. You are in the middle of the road. You are really in Vegas wearing the sparkly full-length gown singing to people who are paying to see you but are not really paying attention. If that is what you want, fine, but it’s a road to nowhere.
I look at Doris and I think: Does she look happy? She looks lost, like she is desperately trying to find the person she was when she started. She looks like really she knows she is in Vegas, now that Vegas is the whole entertainment world filtered through the internet, through impatient social media. I don’t mind her dressing up, but when she started to dance like Madonna, almost immediately, copying someone else, it was like she had forgotten what it was about her that could be unique. Ultimately, it is all about prettiness and comfort, however much they pretend they are being provocative.
This is what I would say to my pupil: you have become only your fame, and left behind most of who you were. How are you going to deal with that? Will you lose that person forever? Have you become someone else, without really knowing it? Do you always have to stay in character for people to like you? Do you know that you are in character?