If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit, Stop Wearing It

ladygagashoesI don’t normally pay much attention to Lady Gaga. Early in my career as a teacher, I tried to keep up with popular culture, slipping in references to contemporary movies and songs whenever possible. I watched the Grammy’s, the Oscars, and occasionally listened to a top 40 radio station. I once made it through 5 whole songs before my stomach lurched, my knees weakened, and I collapsed under the weight of too much “Oh, Baby! Oh, Baby! Oh Baby! Uh!”

The goal, at the time, was simple. Like any good educator, I wanted to relate the material to things my students could understand. We could discuss ethics in relation to downloading music, gender as we see it in certain movies, Machiavelli and the East/West Coast rap schism, or poetry as a musical genre. Film angles helped explain narrative voice and if I could mention a film the students had seen, I reasoned, the material might seem more relevant. See, I could say, Milton’s struggling with evil just like Denzel Washington in Fallen. (I, actually, have never said those words, mostly because I can’t stand Milton and I don’t want to soil Denzel’s good name.)

I stopped keeping up with contemporary, popular music, though. One year I watched the Grammy’s and I realized two very specific things: 1) I couldn’t understand a word anyone was saying. It literally felt like I had traveled to another country where everyone’s songs had a bass pitch so low anyone over 30 couldn’t hear it or every singer was screaming at a decibel level I didn’t want to be able to hear, and 2) I actually found myself thinking, “why don’t those women put more clothes on? It can’t be comfortable dancing with that string right there.”

Continuing to use those popular culture references, I also thought, will turn me into the creepy middle-age guy who uses “party” as a verb around his kids’ friends.

I do still try to remain a little bit current. I check out the entertainment section of the Huffington Post, read some of the movie reviews at JoBlo.com, and read about the top 40 songs, but I’m comfortable growing old, grumpy, and out of touch. My students have Netflix, Pandora, and Google. I’ll leave it up to them to do some research. That’s real active learning anyway.

Either way, Lady Gaga is, evidently, the bomb (0r whatever goofy phrase exists out there to say she’s really popular), and evidently she just canceled her tour because she has a labral tear in her hip. Lady Gaga’s shows, as so many are these days, are less music and more aerobic workout. I was exhausted watching Beyonce’s Super Bowl Halftime show. I felt guilty, thinking I should get up, grab the leg warmers and headband, and start burning calories.

I don’t want to belittle Lady Gaga’s injury. I’m sure a labrum tear in her hip is painful and I have no doubt such an injury should keep her off the stage. Her shows are choreographed events of non-stop motion. It’s like world wide wresting set to music.  Gone are the days when singers canceled shows because they were too drunk to go on stage. More and more, we probably need to test for steroids, HGH, and PEDs as our musicians grow increasingly athletic. They’ve all become some weird amalgamation of Richard Simmons and Gene Simmons (no makeup but the short shorts survived). Thank goodness people like Snoop Dog and Willie Nelson are around to remind us some musicians still smoke dope and drink booze.

But I also don’t have much sympathy for Lada Gaga. Every time I see her in the news, she’s wearing shoes we could strap on a terrorist. I have no doubt they would beg for water-boarding after about 15 minutes of walking in those things. We might end terrorism with a pair of shoes and a cat walk.

Truth be told, I’m mostly surprised her hip is the only thing that’s pulled.

I know I’m sounding all old-farty here, and I’m not blind to the fashion foibles of the past. I’ve been to Graceland and seen Elvis’ jumpsuit. Kurt Cobain defined a generation of slackers and allowed Levis to charge us extra for torn jeans, Michael Jackson gave us one glove and red leather jackets, Olivia Newton John gave us headbands, and Madonna wanted us to act like a virgin but dress like god knows what.

But nothing they wore was a health hazard. I wish Lady Gaga a quick recovery, but I also recommend she start shopping for shoes at the Foot Locker. She’ll thank me later in life and she probably won’t have to cancel anymore concerts.

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About John Wegner
John Wegner is a Professor of English where he also serves as the Dean of the Freshman College. He and Lana, his wife, have been married over 25 years. They are the parents of two great sons who (so far) haven't ever needed bail money.

4 Responses to If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit, Stop Wearing It

  1. Joyce says:

    Although her music is not my cup of tea, and her fashions are outrageous for the sake of being outrageous, I appreciate her because of her social consciousness, and the fact that she uses her popularity as a platform to promote self expression and discourage bullying in young people. I like that she chooses to contribute to some cause other than her own.

    Those shoes, though…I predict that women are going to start having bunion surgeries in their 20’s. The heels that they expect us to wear these days are dangerous.

  2. klyse3 says:

    I’m young and equally unsympathetic. Shoes like Lady Gaga wears are at once laughable and so sad….why does anyone think that’s necessary?

  3. jmgoyder says:

    I am in your wavelength!

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Washington Monthly

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