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Must we do '80s again?

"The biggest star in the music world right now worships at the altar of the late Warhol and early Madonna, and she will have the biggest tour of the summer precisely because everything about her is so disposable and phony. She is so eighties."

That's Stephen March writing of Lady Gaga in the new issue of Esquire. The author offers a blistering two-page essay -- "Why the Hell are we Back in the Eighties?" He writes, "The music was brittle. The clothes were ugly. The art was nasty. Sex was AIDS and drugs were crack."

March also notes: "In politics too, there's an eighties craze, driven by both Barack Obama and the people who would see him fail. The president is as much a party to nostalgia as anyone -- throughout his campaign he repeatedly praised the man -- Ronald Reagan -- whose legacy he is currently dismantling ... when he is not posing as Reagan, Obama is claiming, through a thousand small gestures, that he is the reincarnation of Lincoln.

"And the tea partiers claim they're the only true inheritors of the revolutionary fathers when they're really nihilists, against everything and for nothing."

Speaking of Lady Gaga, if she is the Madonna-clone so many insist, then it is time for a little "reinvention."

This is the word that just about became the dictionary definition of Madonna. It's time to dress like a human in public Gaga; the freak shtick is old already. Two years into her fame, Madonna had already tossed out the leggings and midriff tops and lacy socks. She presented a new image and sound.


OK -- I managed to catch something called "The Much Music Awards" on Sunday night, though of course that was nothing compared to the emotional finale of "The Tudors."

Much Music is a show that airs in Canada and features a lot of Canadian talent I've never heard of. Well, even if they were American, it's a very young crowd -- teens and tweens galore.

I stuck it out to see Justin Bieber, the latest in a decades-long line of teen heartthrob singers -- remember Fabian, or the Cassidy Brothers? The Monkees? The now-fading Jonas Brothers?

So Justin comes out in his baggy jacket and his cap. He's 16 but looks 12. And this is good news. As soon as the throbs sprout hair, they're cooked. I don't know if he can really sing or dance, but the shrieking for him was impressive.

And then Miley Cyrus closed the show with some kind of wild number titled "Can't Tame Me," that seemed a cross between Marilyn Monroe's "Heat Wave" and Dietrich's "Hot Voodoo." She's only 17 so she was not as high camp as either legend. The Disney star of "Hannah Montana" will probably be criticized for "sexualizing" herself. But is this really so much different than a teen star of the '40s or '50s wearing low-cut evening gowns or posing for pin-up pictures? (I know you'll say "yes!" But in the context of our changed times I wonder?)

Oh, and I don't know if Miley has any real talent. She hosted the awards show and was rather gauche. Her performing style is like everybody else's. But, as with Mr. Bieber, the shrieking was outstanding. That's entertainment!

Snooki, from MTV's loutish "Jersey Shore" showed up onstage too. I hope this perpetually salon- or spray-tanned young woman saves her money. There will be no second acts for Snooki.


Lindsay Lohan tested clean for alcohol last week. A bitter pill for so many to swallow. That's all. No lectures.

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