I suppose it’s every pop star’s prerogative to adopt an alter ego: Where would Beyoncé be without Sasha Fierce? How could Nicki Minaj exist without Roman Zolanski? Can Mariah ever not be Mimi?
All valid questions, to be certain, and yet … maybe it’s time we stop asking them. With all due respect to the Queen B, Ms. Minaj and the Magnificent Mariah (or any of the myriad of pop stars who have sought to reinvent themselves over the years), it is entirely possible that we have finally reached the point of no return. And as such, perhaps we should to retire the alter-ego idea entirely.
This has nothing to do with my feelings about alter egos, second selves, or even doppelgängers, since, as a general rule of thumb, I am in favor of them, especially when they involve rock music (Ziggy Stardust!), comic books (Superman!) and/or professional wrestling (the Undertaker!) But it has everything to do with mermaids. Or, more specifically, the fact that, at this very moment, two of the biggest pop stars on the planet are attempting to foist mermaid alter egos upon us … and neither seems to have a problem with that.It all started last month, when Lady Gaga pulled on a fishtail and became Yuyi the Mermaid for a performance on French TV. In theory, this was all right with me, considering A) Yuyi will apparently be featured in her next music video and B) I have never been wronged by a mermaid, mostly because they are mythological creatures. The event that made me reconsider my feelings actually occurred earlier this week, when Katy Perry took to her Twitter account to post a photo of herself, mid-plank, dressed as Ariel from “The Little Mermaid.”
Not surprisingly, this angered Gaga’s little monsters (and Laurieann Gibson), but I’d suggest that their outrage was misguided. They shouldn’t be mad at Perry for going mermaid, they should be mad at pop stars in general. Because, really, if we’ve reached the point where they can’t even come up with original alter egos any more, well, then perhaps it’s time to do away with the concept altogether.
And yes, I realize that mermaids are inexplicably hot right now, what with their inclusion in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and Stephenie Meyer’s upcoming book, in which they will apparently devour men or something. Still, have we officially run out of alter egos? Shoot, Gaga has already been a motorcycle, a space mother, and Mary Magdalene … and that’s just since she released Born This Way. And Katy? She’s currently working another alter ego, an orthodontically enhanced teen named Kathy Beth Terry. Couldn’t one of them be a centaur? Joan of Arc? Abraham Lincoln?
Apparently not. And since we’ve apparently reached the alter ego’s event horizon, I’m proposing a five-year moratorium on any and all split personalities. Let’s all just chill a bit … give the batteries some time to recharge. You may think I’m being reactionary, but deep down, you know I’m right. I don’t want to live in a world where our pop stars have been reduced to dueling mermaids, simply because there were no other alternatives. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit idly by and watch as the good name of Chris Gaines is dragged through the mud. Especially by mermaids.