Yesterday we posted a quote from Jack White’s interview with Esquire that implied a strong distaste for image-obsessed pop stars like Lady Gaga. No, scratch that–a strong distaste for only Lady Gaga.
This quote–just a snippet from the actual interview–was posted on Esquire‘s website, framed like this:
Amongst other things, the fiercely opinionated White gives his take on Twitter (not keen), the state of modern celebrity (also not keen) and Lady Gaga (even less keen). “I don’t think she lives it because it’s all artifice,” says White of Gaga. “It’s all image with no meaning behind it. You can’t sink your teeth into it. It’s a sound bite. It’s very of this age, because that’s what people want.”
Today, White issued a statement via Third Man Records, clarifying the so-called “Lady Gaga diss.” While he doesn’t address the fact that Esquire presented a quote that basically opened the door wide open for negative interpretation (intentional or not), he does explain what he was originally trying to say, and what he claims was taken out of context:
I’d like to address the recent tabloidesque drama baiting by the press in regards to Lady Gaga. I never said anything about her music, or questioned the authenticity of her songs in any way. I was in a conversation about the drawbacks of image for the sake of image, and that it is popular nowadays to not question an image in front of you, but only to label it as “cool” or “weird” quickly and dispose of it. I don’t like my comments about Lady Gaga’s presentation being changed into some sort of negative critique of her music. If you’re going to try to cause drama, at least get the quotes right. I think journalists should also be held accountable for what they say. Especially publications like the NME who put whatever words they feel like between two quotation marks and play it off as a quote. Maybe somebody with more lawyers can take them to task, but I’ll just use the Internet and Twitter instead. I also think that kind of tabloid drama encourages artists to not express their opinions in the press, and instead give polite soundbites that don’t stimulate thought about creativity and the consumption of art in its many guises.
Peace to Lady Gaga and I fully congratulate and compliment her on her championing of gay rights issues and the momentum it’s given to help create change.
The NME post he refers to used a part of the Esquire quote as its headline; however the writer strategically added “Lady Gaga’s music” to suggest White was singling out Gaga instead of referencing her in a broader sense. Pitchfork found the full interview, which you can read below (but is pretty much your typical anti-celebrity soundbite):
Many of our conversational strands end up being rerouted to what celebrity means in the current age, about what it is to be an artist. It’s obviously something that he’s thought about a lot, and which troubles him sometimes.
“The goal of modern celebrity,” he begins, “is to make yourself into the lowest common denominator. ‘Hey, I’m a guy just like you. I like a beer, a football game…’ Especially in reality television, you’ll see people will go so far as to make a fool out of themselves just to prove that. I don’t want to see a reality show about Michelangelo. You know, Clint Eastwood is doing one with his family [Mrs. Eastwood & Company] and it’s such a disappointment. Forget the speech, man,” he says, referring to the Hollywood actor’s bizarre monologue at the Republican National Convention in Florida in August. “The speech was cool compared to that. There’s no reason to put yourself in a position that makes things completely unspecial.”
Does that mean Lady Gaga, who has been known to cook pasta at home in a wig and Louboutin heels, is an example of a celebrity who really lives their vision?
“I don’t think she lives it,” says White, “because it’s all artifice. It’s all image with no meaning behind it. You can’t sink your teeth into it. It’s a sound bite. It’s very of this age, because that’s what people want. They want a Twitter line, a Gif, a Jpeg, an MP3. Twitter is the most perfect example of modern living. It’s very interesting. You know, just a side opinion about Twitter,” and he’s off: “I think the only people who should have [Twitter accounts] are comedians. Because it’s all about one-liners. I would love it if Conan O’Brien or Reggie Watts or Stephen Colbert were to walk into a room and tell me one joke and leave. But you don’t want Gore Vidal telling you ‘I’m doing my dishes right now’.”