Photo: Lauren Horsch
Craig Owens found himself caught up in a “bad romance” with Iowa weather as tornado sirens cut his discussion short on Tuesday.
Owens, associate professor of English, held his discussion, “Going GaGa,” in Medbury Hall as part of the monthly Honors program event, Random Night Dinner. The first-year representatives on the Honors Council–Lillie Schrock, Nate Repay and Jordan Payne–helped plan the event with help from Vice President Molly Wilensky.
Students entered to the smell of vegetable and pasta soup cooking on a stove and chocolate cookies in the oven. Owens came in and introduced himself to a few of the students gearing up for the discussion. Once all of the food was served everyone moved up to room 221.
“How many of you are familiar with the work of Lady Gaga in some way or another?” he asked the crowd. He then told an anecdote about how he listened to her “Fame” album while he was running over the summer.
“You have to think about something [while running],” he said. “I sort of thought, ‘I wonder if there is an argument to be made about the way Lady Gaga’s music, lyrics and celebrity person and music videos represent identity and represent the possibilities of identity.’”
He ran some of his ideas past English majors during fall 2010 and then ended up presenting a paper in February 2011 on Lady Gaga and a bit on Madonna. He even said he hasn’t solidified his entire hypothesis on Lady Gaga, but can hope to clarify it in time.
“I am not speaking from an area of expertise,” Owens said. “I need a number of other eyes and brains looking at this stuff.”
He then showed the audience Madonna’s “Material Girl” video to compare to those of Lady Gaga.
Once the video was over, Owens asked what was funny or odd about it.
One person cited the red set that looked like a motel and the fact the video plays up the theme that women grow up dreaming of being spoiled and lavished.
An audience member said she became bored watching it.
First-year student Ethan Clevenger said it was mainly boring because Madonna was just “walking around.”
Owens also mentioned people now view the video as boring, but when it was made, it was considered to be a performance.
“Something has changed,” he said. “The video obviously hasn’t changed; something has changed about our expectations about music videos.”
When discussion ended, he switched gears and showed Lady Gaga’s video for “Paparazzi.” That is when the first rumblings of weather issues began. As the video played, rain pounded on the window and lightening loomed outside the windows.
Owens asked the audience if they thought the video was boring in the same ways as Madonna’s video. One audience member spoke about how the scene changes in the video kept his attention.
Clevenger said that he feels Lady Gaga embraces celebrity culture to mock it.
“Gaga is still a mystery to me,” Owens said.
Merely minutes after he uttered this statement, the tornado sirens rang out and everyone left Medbury Hall to run to a nearby building to find shelter, as Medbury does not have a basement.
The mood among students and staff gathered in Meredith basement was filled with excitement and worry about the possibility of a tornado. Sirens went off multiple times as they awaited the “all is clear” call or could brave the rain to flee to other buildings. The electricity in the small hallways was matched only by the lightning pulsating outside in the sky.
Payne and Repay said there have been no discussions about rescheduling the event, but the council still has time to make the decision before April’s RND, which has yet to be set.