Is it 1) a controlled and thoughtful satire in meat couture about the plight of women in the pop industry, who are oiled up, lubed up, dressed in schoolgirl attire and presented in an assortment of cheesily provocative poses for the pleasure of older men all over the planet, MTV being the spiritual home of this meat market? Given that Gaga has come out on the side of the outsider in a number of interviews, this is perfectly possible.
Or is it 2), a huge, desperate mistake, concocted in the back rooms of her PR company by giggling rejects from a Chris Morris media satire determined to multiply the outrage Gaga generates every time she goes out?
Given Gaga’s wardrobe people have been vying to outdo their previous creations (cigarette sunglasses, playing a piano sat on a toilet for the X Factor etc) each time they come up with a new one, it would be forgivable to suspect the latter. But that would mean ignoring the Gaga that let herself be seen in an interview with Caitlin Moran in the Times over the summer – one who was interested, approachable, gleefully outrageous, grateful to her fans and clearly bright enough to know that outrageous media manipulation had to have a point if it was going to be of any value whatsoever, even if the point was just to get people wondering what was meant by it.
The meat dress is the big divider, the sort of thing that will get petitions raised against Gaga by PETA and devout Hindus. But it will also upset all those people who like their meat (and their pop music) neatly packaged in clingfilm so they can’t tell that it was once alive.
That Gaga has said it could mean many things is a good sign, but even if it was carefully thought out stunt the fact remains that it could still fail thanks to the weight of angry complaint.