An Open Letter To Lady Gaga, V Magazine Columnist

Date: September 2011

Re: Critics Are Meanies!


From: Johnny Darling

CC: critics, bloggers, Daphne Guinness, Halston, Mark Zuckerberg, NetFlix, The Northern Hemisphere


Dear Mother Monster,

Brava on another steaming pile of brilliance in V magazine! We await your column each month with the same sort of anticipation one feels on the way to a colonic. It’s as though you’ve reached up inside yourself and extracted the intellectual bile potential we’ve always known lurked within you. Oh, the hard truths that you tell! The searing observations! We feel challenged—inspired! Allow us to quote a sample of your pristine prose:

“Accomplished creators of fashion and music have a visceral effect on the world, which is consequently why they are publicly distinguished. So why do so many notable critics seem so impervious to the emotion of the work? Why such indifference? Does intellectualism replace feeling?”

“It’s so easy to say something is bad. It’s so easy to write, “One star, hated it, worst show of the season.” It’s much more challenging to reckon with and analyze a work. It requires research, but maybe no one does their research anymore. …When does the critique or review become insult and not insight? Injury and not intellect?”

When you sat down to write this treatise on the role of the artist and the critic, your immaculately rhinestoned nails filed to dagger points as sharp as your wit tapping away at your keyboard (style doesn’t rest simply so one can type) we have to believe you were channeling us! We’ve often pondered why writers, who’s job it is to critique other people’s art, have to be so damn critical!

Why don’t more notable critics understand that the artist must never be questioned? It’s obvious to us, as we’re sure it must be to you, that if a journalist pans a work of true art, he or she clearly just didn’t get it.

“One star. Hated it. Worst show of the season.”

We can’t tell you how many times we’ve received those kind of reductive and unsatisfying reviews, sometimes word for word. We agree that it’s unfortunate most critics cannot project their vital living spirits into the soul space of an artist’s work. Why don’t they teach that in journalism school? The ability to feel the essence of a work’s energy, to taste of its essential aura of creativity and risk, the violence, the subtle chafing and itchiness inherent in the creative process! All of this is lost on intellectually and spiritually bankrupt critics, such is the sad state of fashion journalism. But you offer a solution:

I’m going to propose a term to describe this movement in critical journalism: Extreme Critic Fundamentalism. I define this term as instilling fear in the hopes and dreams of young inventors in order to establish an echelon of tastemakers. There is a difference between getting a B- in Biology with a series of poignant red marks from your teacher and being given a spanking with a ruler by an old nun. The former we can learn from, while the latter is just painful. 

The biology analogy is so astute, but we actually think you could have taken it further! Screw your B- grade, Herr McBiology Professor! The work must be allowed to flow from us.  It shouldn’t matter if our answers were right or wrong—the answers were an act of creation, of expression of our view of biology, and to question it is to stifle, to stanch, to strangle, to choke the very chicken of our artistic selves!

The true learning process of the artist must be one of lawlessness, of experimentation and rule-breaking, of don’t-give-a-fuckfulness!

Back to the column for more riches:


Back to the column for more riches:

In the age of the Internet, when collections and performances are so accessible to the public and anyone can post a review on Facebook or Twitter, shouldn’t columnists and reviewers, such as Cathy Horyn, employ a more modern and forward approach to criticism… The public is certainly not stupid, and as Twitter queen, I can testify that the range of artistic and brilliant intellectuals I hear from on a daily basis is staggering and inspiring.

We’re glad you brought up The Internet, Gaga. That last intellectual bastion of articulation, nuanced expression, reasoned debate, thoughtful exchange, and avant-garde tweets! We’re sure you’ll agree that the Internet has brought about a new era of democratic expression: Everyone’s opinion matters now and can be heard, read, seen, experienced, breathed, channeled thanks to this worldwide platform.

Why do we harp on the predictability of the infamous fashion critic? The predictability of the most notoriously harsh critics who continue writing their notoriously harsh reviews? Why give the elephant in the room a peanut if it has already snapped its trunk at you? That peanut was dead on arrival. … The more critical question to ask is: when did the pretense of fashion become more important than its influence on a generation? Why have we decided that one person’s opinion matters more than anyone else’s?

Really, what can 25 years as a respected journalist teach you that a week on Tumblr can’t? Why should we give any more credence to Vogue or The New York Times or V, for that matter, than we do to a 12-year-old goth girl in Boca Raton who posts runway photos that she pulled from NYMag.com? At least that goth child has the courage and intellectual capacity to “Like” things without being beholden to some outdated code that polices creativity. From the Twitters of babes…

We fear, however, MM, that this latest column betrays a bit of your naiveté—your unsullied, uncorrupted artist’s heart, your foolish optimism. This is not a world where fashion can live and breath freely, out of the crosshairs of dogmatic reviewers. We don’t live in a world of mutual respect and admiration, where fashion journalists heap praise and accolades on top designers each season.

No, we live in a world where the the Times and GoFugYourself.com spew out scathing reviews and relentless negativity; where the critic is king and the designers behind some of the most extraordinary, complicated and downright inspiringly unwearable designs are beaten back and oppressed by their tyrannical reviews.

This is no world for us, Peanut.



Don't forget to share: