Lady Gaga may have intended the vomit in her South By Southwest performance as art, but to Demi Lovato, the stunt was a dangerous endorsement of eating disorders. “Sad… As if we didn’t have enough people glamorizing eat disorders already,” the singer and former X Factor judge tweeted on Friday evening. “Bottom line, it’s not ‘cool’ or ‘artsy’ at all.”
During her rendition of “Swine” at SXSW, Gaga brought to the stage British performance artist Millie Brown, whose specialty is vomiting up colorful goo. Brown did just that during the song, all over Gaga.
Gaga attempted to explain the artistic merits of the performance during her SXSW keynote speech. “It was just exciting seeing people talking about performance art on the Internet and debating about whether it’s art or not,” she said. “We really just did it because we believe in the performance and we believe in what it meant to the song [‘Swine’].”
But that justification didn’t quite wash with Lovato, who has been open in the past about her own struggles with bulimia. “Artists in pop culture have influence on people.. Some of which are people who aren’t capable of understanding the art that is expressed by their idols,” she wrote in a longer post. “Whether we intend to or not, artists influence people of ALL ages and unfortunately what people see, people do. . . . I’ve been through a shit ton.. More than any of you know, and I sympathize for everyone’s struggle. But people emulate what they see celebrities do or let happen. And that’s why I had to say something.. to let the people who don’t understand the art in it, that bulimia isn’t cool, and it won’t get you on stage with your favorite artist.”
In an interview with TMZ on Saturday, Brown defended the performance against Lovato’s criticism. “There’s a clear difference between using my body to create something beautiful, to express myself and feel powerful, rather than using it to punish myself and conform to society’s standards.”