America’s Leading Artsy Girl + Trophy Bro Relationship Has Ended
The other day I was perusing Instagram when a meme struck a chord with me, as Instagram memes often do.
It was made by Kristen Cochrane, a.k.a. @ripannanicolesmith, a writer whose hilarious memes speak to anyone who likes reading the great books and questioning the patriarchy but is also an unrepentant girly girl.
It was this:
It’s a photo of pop star and weirdo Lady Gaga with Taylor (or is it Tyler? Travis?) Kinney, her random-ass fiancé whose appeal I had heretofore never quite grasped.
After seeing this meme, though, I got it. Lady Gaga is an artsy bish and Taylor Kinney is the bro boyfriend who sits back and lets her do her thing. And isn’t that just the dream?
But Lady Gaga with a bro confused me for a while. I had always figured if the oddball who made out with herself in drag and drove stakes into mermaids in the “Yoü and I” video was going to date someone I’d never heard of, it’d be some secret Japanese avant-garde artist — the male version of Yoko Ono, basically. Not a guy who plays a firefighter on network TV.
But that was just my own internalized stereotypes talking. When a woman achieves success of any kind, we assume she’ll partner with someone who’s of equal or greater success in her field. A female banker should date a man who’s just as successful in finance or business, if not more so. A female actress should date a bigger male actor — or a male director. Or, okay fine, a megarich dude with family money.
It was only when I saw the aforementioned @ripannanicolesmith meme that I understood — Lady Gaga was dating this bro so she could be the artsy one.
Before Taylor, Lady Gaga dated an enigmatic, scraggly haired wannabe rock star who she found somewhere on the Lower East Side. Similarly, I’ve dated guys who were creatively ambitious like me. I shared the spotlight with them and thought our mutual creativity was mutually beneficial — that we were helping each other reach greater heights because we both got it in some way.
I’m sure those types of relationships work out frequently. I see enough tragically hip 40-something couples in scuffled sneakers and architectural black clothing in my neighborhood to know that two creative types can, in fact, be together in the long term.
But in many cases, creative people can be the worst — ego-centric, self-absorbed, moody. So two of them together are really no good. Even if a relationship fused with creative energy is electric at its best, it can complicate things. Your respective creative talents become part of the relationship in a way that other people’s jobs never would. You get competitive, you blame your professional successes and failures on each other, and it all gets tangled together in a way that’s just not productive.
The male creatives of the world have known this for some time. This is why history’s most famous artsy dudes have made it a point to date women whose careers were either nonexistent or would take a back seat to theirs. They don’t want to share the spotlight. So they don’t.
Why shouldn’t a creative woman be allowed to do the same thing?
As someone in a creative industry with dreams of artistic fulfillment, I’d always thought dating someone with a more conservative career path would be impossible — that he wouldn’t get me, as if I were too complicated and special for someone with a normal job to understand.
But I was being judgmental and kind of an asshole. Being in a creative field doesn’t make me special any more than it makes Lady Gaga special. It’s just what we do for fun (or for a living if we’re lucky). As Elizabeth Gilbert has said, sometimes it’s better to think of your creative work as something separate from you. It’s a privilege to get to work on creative projects, and it can give you a high that nothing else does. But no, it doesn’t make you special and it certainly doesn’t make you better than people who aren’t interested in creativity or art.
The romance of being part of a Winona Ryder & Johnny Depp creative weirdo pairing is appealing. But I’m here to tell the artsy girls of the world: a romance with a bro can be just as good, if not better.
Now that I’ve finally gotten over myself and started dating someone who’s not a wannabe artiste, my creativity feels separate from my from my relationship. Don’t get it twisted: my boyfriend’s my biggest fan. And surprisingly, he pays more attention to my work than any of my “creative” boyfriends ever did.
But more important than that, we focus on our relationship and each other — not some idealized version of what it means to be part of a creative couple.
And I imagine that’s what Lady Gaga and Taylor Kinney had. She got to be this artsy weirdo on her own, he sat back and enjoyed it and didn’t feel a need to be the same way, and they got on with their everyday lives.
Of course, the elephant in the room is not only that Gaga and Taylor broke up, but that Gaga hasn’t produced anything nearly as badass as her early work for several years now. After the multi-million-dollar dud that was 2013’s Artpop, she recalibrated by releasing an album of classic cover songs with Tony Bennett and brushing up on her acting skills.
But she’s still a total freak. In fact, her slight scaling back of artifice has only made that more clear, as she wears bleached eyebrows with evening gowns and bestows bizarre drawings of her feelings unto her collaborators while a TV crew watches.
It’s anyone’s guess whether Gaga will keep dating bros. Maybe she’ll disavow the whole bro thing as she ratchets up the weird again — she’ll certainly be motivated to create music now that she’s going through the breakup of her engagement.
But I sincerely hope this is only the first of many high-profile artsy-girl-plus-bro pairings for our generation. I mean, Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth are already carrying on this legacy, as are FKA Twigs and Robert Pattinson (although his pants are just a shade too tight to qualify him for bro-hood).
This type of pairing can be just as good for your creativity as dating the lead singer of your favorite band — in fact, it can be better. So artsy girls of the world, stop passing on all the sports fans with biceps. You might just find your biggest fan.