Bad Timing? Lady Gaga and R. Kelly Send Up JFK and Marilyn at AMAs

At Sunday night’s American Music Awards, pop superstar Lady Gaga once again courted controversy with her performance of “Do What U Want,” from her recently-released ARTPOP album. Just days after the nation marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Gaga donned a Marilyn Monroe wig for her duet with “President” R. Kelly, who summons her to the Oval Office for some hot moves atop the Resolute Desk. Although brief “homage” is also paid to former President Bill Clinton, the JFK theme is unmistakable.

Aside from the historical echoes, the performance itself was rather tame, even glamorous, but there will surely be some who view the duet as irreverent, given the proximity to the anniversary, and the song’s lyrics. The JFK/Marilyn Monroe relationship has been romanticized and mythologized in American pop culture, but evoking it in this context is controversial.

On the other hand, this is not the first time that Gaga has emulated Marilyn Monroe, and the onscreen graphics at the end of the performance indicate that the display was at least as much about sexual image-making as historical intrigue.

Here’s the clip, from the American Music Awards:

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