Lady Gaga's quest for kindness makes her 'Reel Cool'
Lady Gaga has more than 26 million Twitter followers.
Even if you don't know her music (or didn't see her dressed in parma ham) you'd have to think that she's either cool, talented and highly intelligent or a highly skilled, slightly demented self-promoter. It might be for all these reasons that she is Twitter's most popular user, and has been for a while.
I wouldn't call myself a "Little Monster" but that's what she calls those of us who like her. I don't draw pictures of her, I haven't got the tattoos, nor do I want the nosebleed seats that are the only ones left for her November concert in Johannesburg. But I am an admirer of the 26-year-old who has taken what best-selling female artist Madonna did in the 1980s and made it relevant to 2012. Madonna challenged us. Nothing she did was tame, except perhaps the music itself.
But, at the risk of being a bit ageist here, at 50 plus she is no longer cool.
This is where Lady Gaga takes over. One of her admirers, British columnist and feminist Caitlin Moran, describes part of her performance at the Glastonbury concert like that of a tiny transvestite ballerina. Lady Gaga, says Moran, was making "Madonna look a bit slack and unimaginative here".
But why do I, a 40-something mother of three, like her? First , unlike Madonna, but like Amy Winehouse, her voice and some of her music are good.
Second, she is creative and has an outrageous sense of style. But it's that she reaches out to those on the fringes of society, that appeals to me. Last year when a 14-year-old boy committed suicide after being teased for being gay, Lady Gaga tweeted: "The past days I've spent reflecting, crying, and yelling. I have so much anger. It is hard to feel love when cruelty takes someone's life". The right response, of course. But she also took action and a few months later launched the Born This Way Foundation "to reach youth and create a new culture of kindness, bravery, acceptance and empowerment".
With her foundation she's trying to combine institutional partners with her fame.
It is her revelation of her own experiences of bullying that gives it the weight and sincerity that such organisations often lack. With her following and ability to open up a rather large space where it's okay to be different, she may be able to achieve something other than wealth with her fame.
Maybe I really am a little monster.