It's been 10 years since Lady Gaga released "Just Dance." The passage of time is inevitable, of course, but realizing we've been living in a world where Lady Gaga is Lady Gaga for a decade is still kind of mind-blowing. She's changed the game and raised the bar for what it means to be a pop star in the social media age. Her Gagavisions, those long gone YouTube shorts, are part of the reason why.
Back in 2008, celebrities weren't really on social media. MySpace was on its last relevant legs and its scene queens and kings were growing into college radio indie darlings, trading their zebra stipe hair for knit beanies and hazy selfies; Twitter wasn't really a thing; Facebook had just allowed people without college email addresses to join. It would be two years until Instagram launched, forever changing our relationship with celebrity lives. YouTube, however, was around, and Lady Gaga used it to cultivate her brand and build out her world, one that, she said, was meant to "infiltrate human culture one sequin at a time."
The project lasted about a year before Gaga went quiet, likely because she fired off her first tweet a week before the final Gagavision, a retrospective look at the past 39 videos, was uploaded. (By that point, Gaga was already selling out her Fame Ball tour, a superstar in her own right.) She brought it back two months after releasing "Born This Way" in 2011, uploading four videos that mostly documented the early days of the Born This Way era. The magic of them all, however, was lost. So much so that by the time she brought it back in 2014 (for two episodes), nothing stuck. (Did anything during Artpop stick?)
What made Gagavisions so special in the beginning was each episode's seemingly unfiltered look into a star-in-the-making's life. We got to see Gaga hustle, hear her struggle, and watch her brainstorm costumes, video treatments, and more with her creative team, The Haus of Gaga. She was sharing her life and connecting with her fans the way celebrities do today through more immediate, snackable platforms (Twitter and Instagram). Gaga was making money, but these updates were low-budget and confessional. They made Gaga relatable while mythologizing her at the same time. Just like video killed the radio star, Instagram and Twitter killed the Gagavision star. By the time she stopped making Gagavisions, she had moved on to changing her look multiple times a day to keep the paparazzi's and social media users' interests piqued, using fashion to generate buzz over two-minute-or-so videos on a platform better used for music videos than celebrity vlogs.
Now, Gaga doesn't need a point-and-shoot to bring her Monsters behind the scenes. She has professional documentary crews producing Netflix specials that feel as intimate as the Gagavisions of 10 years ago. It's like she knew she was destined for that when she said "Do you know how many things I'm going to make?" during the third Gagavision as she fixed her trademark Disco Stick. "They think this is my big 'ta-da!' Like this stick is my big claim to fame." Joke's on us. Transmission complete—but not forgotten.