"She's God Basically Mother of This Universe": The 'Authentic' Lady Gaga and the Re-evaluation of the Little Monster Fan Identity

Speakman, Blair Ian
Piatti-Farnell, Lorna
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Master of Communication Studies
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Auckland University of Technology

Lady Gaga is a gender-subverting and theatrical pop-star who cultivated a uniquely close subcultural bond with her fans, the Little Monsters, by embracing the 'monster'. However, in September 2014, Lady Gaga 'shocked' fans and challenged audience expectations of her as an artist by releasing a collaborative jazz album with Tony Bennett, Cheek to Cheek. This thesis is primarily concerned with critically investigating how Little Monsters received Lady Gaga's significant transformation in image and sound for the Cheek to Cheek era, and whether the jazz album impacted how fans perceived their fan-identity, the Little Monster community, and Lady Gaga. The following research questions were developed in order to gain an insight into the Little Monster identity: 1) "What is the relationship between the release of Lady Gaga's collaborative jazz album with Tony Bennett, Cheek to Cheek (2014) and the perception of the Lady Gaga fan-identity"; 2) "How did the change in musical genre and persona affect how Little Monsters perceived their identity"; and 3) "How did the fan reception of Cheek to Cheek impact the fan community and fan practices". An online questionnaire was employed and survey data was analysed in relation to a range of academic fields including identity, community, fandom, social anthropology, and postmodernism in order to critically analyse whether participants re-evaluated their Lady Gaga fan-identity. Often contradictory and conflicting results illustrate how participants received Cheek to Cheek in contrasting ways, as some Little Monsters expressed their desire for the return of the music which made the singer commercially successful, while other fans perceived the jazz album to an extension of Lady Gaga's identity. The divide participants experienced throughout the Cheek to Cheek era meant that some Little Monsters felt isolated from the fan community, as they did not conform to the appropriate norms and fan practices.

Lady Gaga , Little Monsters , Cheek to Cheek , Fandom , Fan community , Authenticity , Music , Pop music , Music fandom , Popular culture , Thematic analysis
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