Lady Gaga is an internationally known pop singer, songwriter, and actor. Born This Way, one of her best-selling and most successful albums, received mixed feedback and criticism upon its initial publication. Walt Whitman, on the other hand, was a poet and writer of the 1800s who produced many fictitious works of literature. Many linguists and academics have praised one of his poems, “Song of Me,” for its rarity in the world of literature. As a result, the contrast of two works by Lady Gaga and Walt Whitman serves as the foundation of the text. A critical analysis and comparison of themes, style, the order of the artistic writings, and the target audience for given works are to be conducted to point out similarities and differences in the various aspects of compositions mentioned above.
Summary of the Poem ‘Song of Myself’
In Whitman poem ‘Song of Myself’ it is very clear that the piece of work does not have a single idea or even plot to be outlined, but rather there is a mixture of several themes and styles. There have been juggled many ideas in it, so it does not come out clearly to the reader what the concept the poet wanted to introduce (Westendorp 340). In fact, the poem appears to acquire new notions every time an individual reads it because of the disorganized flow of thoughts which a person has to literally search to determine what exactly is being communicated (Westendorp 340). The uniqueness of this piece of art has become appealing to many people who like repeated reading since every time they hope to find some new ideas in the poem for consideration.
The entire creation seems to revolve around the equality of human beings. Whitman seemed to be rather obsessed by sameness of people regardless the status and other personal attributes (Westendorp 341). He recognized the working group being economically secure, the poverty stricken people who were exceedingly poor and the prostitutes as well. Hence, he asserted that everyone was equal. For example, it is stated in one line that; Every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you (Westendorp 341). What this simply means is that whether individuals are good or bad, they are all the same because they are most likely to be created by the one God who shaped them using the same building blocks, the atoms. Furthermore, Whitman also pays attention to the matter of lifelong love. He views life to be a very good and special gift to humans. In one of the lines it is noted that; Has anyone supposed it lucky to be born? I hasten to tell him or her it is just as lucky to die (Westendorp 342). He is telling the readers that everything is alright and they should never worry.
Summary of the Song Born this Way
Lady Gaga song Born this Way is very crucial and unique in that it talks about issues many artists have never thought about either in written or in performed arts (Williams 28). Her song seems to revolve more around feminism, sexuality, and acceptance of oneself. She asserts in the composition that no matter whether the one was born a gay, straight, or a lesbian. The individual must love oneself, since he or she was created by God (Williams 32). She also recognizes transgender people in her song. In the society today, the homosexuals and transgender people have continually faced discrimination and humiliations in various cases of life. According to the song, we all have the freedom of choice of who to sexually get attracted to. The piece of art encourages the victims of gender by opposing any sexual humiliations and discrimination. It admits that such people were born their own way and therefore they should not hide because of shame. Instead, they have to rejoice since they were created wonderful, and God does not make mistakes.
Whereas in Whitman poem free verse has been used, Lady Gaga employed consistency and progressive flow in her work. Whitman does not follow any formal order of writing the poem lines and this explains why in his work it is difficult to tell at once what ideas he is conveying to his readers. On the other hand, Gaga work depicts clear lines which flow properly and communicates effectively and conveniently the ideas. Whitman has used several long lines in his work whereas in Gaga song, the lines are short and most of the words are even shortened. The application of short lines and shortened words is because of the need to achieve rhythm and musicality. Whitman work is a poem which can be spoken whereas Gaga work is a song which is sung and therefore must have a good tempo only achieved through reducing lines and words within them.
In both cases, repetition (alliteration) has been widely used. For example, Lady Gaga has to use repeated words like born this way. The main reasons for this kind of alliteration is to achieve musicality and rhythm of the piece of art and at the same time stressing or adding emphasis on what she is communicating to her audience. Similarly, Whitman has repeated words like; Over the growing sugar… Over the cotton plant… Over the rice in its low moist field, among others. The main aim for repetition, in this case, is seen as that of emphasis more than musicality or rhythm.
Whitman has used notable imagery in his work. He uses it to bring the past into the present. Use of visualization gives him freedom and democracy to design his poem in a way that suits his desires. On the other hand, Lady Gaga has also tried bringing the past into the present. For example, she remembers what her mother told her when she was a young growing superstar. The singer says that; My mama told me when I was young We are all born superstars” There’s nothing wrong with loving who you are Cause he made you perfect, babe So hold your head up girl and you’ll go far (Williams 38). In this case, she is trying to bring a picture of her mother talking to her as she was a kid.
In both works, God has been highly recognized as a Supreme Being. For example, Lady Gaga sings that whether you love him or H.I.M does not matter because we are all the same. The equality described by Gaga in her song has also been captured by Whitman in his poem. Whitman recognizes that regardless of the one position, we are all equal especially in front of God. Gaga also notes that no matter which God one worships, we are all the same.
She also mentions the DNA which can be likened to Whitman atoms. Gaga in her song says that same DNA but born this way (Williams 38); an indication that birth is just a physical condition, but inside we are the same. Given point is also stressed by Whitman when he mentions the atoms. The common thing between DNA and atom is that in science they are considered to be small particles or units which build life (biological science) and matter (physical science).
Westendorp, Tjebbe A. Ezra Greenspan,(ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Walt Whitman. Journal of American Studies, no. 30(02), 1996, pp. 340-341.
Williams, Juliet. Same DNA, But Born This Way: Lady Gaga and the Possibilities of Post-Essentialist Feminisms. Journal of Popular Music Studies, 2014, pp.28-46.