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Commentary: ‘The Fame’ of Lady Gaga expands, newest following rooted in botany

Courtesy of MCT

Lady Gaga has become a global superstar, household name, fashion icon and now, a name to an entire genus of exotic fern.

With five Grammy Awards and 13 VMAs, her talent is indisputable. And now with her name spreading from the marquee outside of Madison Square Garden to the real garden, her influence and relevance are at an all-time high.

The fern, located in Costa Rica, was recently discovered by scientists from Duke University. They decided to name the exotic plant after Gaga in October, because certain qualities, such as its dry habitat and different shape, are unlike those of other ferns.

Two of the 19 ferns are cleverly named Gaga germanotta after Gaga’s real name, Stefani Germanotta, and Gaga monstraparva, after the infamous nickname for her diehard fanbase, Little Monsters.

Kathleen Pryer, a biology professor at Duke, oversaw the project and said in an article in Duke Today, Duke’s student newspaper, that she believes Gaga’s message of acceptance and celebration of diversity made her the perfect candidate to embody the qualities of the fern.

Gaga became recognized for her fight for social equality with the release of her multi-platinum album “Born This Way,” which had a heavy undertone of social acceptance and embracing one’s individuality. Arguably, it was this album that certified her role as heir to the throne of pop, with the album selling an astonishing 1.1 million copies in the first week of its release.
Gaga is the epitome of a superstar. She’s talented, she uses her fame to fight for the rights of the underprivileged, she puts on unforgettable shows (like “bleeding” onstage in 2009 and donning a meat dress in 2010, both at the MTV Video Music Awards) and has a monstrous following of undeniably loyal fans.

Popular culture trickles down into virtually every aspect of life. From entertainment to politics, from music to botany, pop culture has a way of taking control. So many celebrities across the spectrum of fame have used their influence in order to seek change and better the world from their perspectives.

Gaga is able to use her position of fame as a springboard for social movements and international conversations of equality, all while making the world dance through her haunting and unforgettable beats.

Her influence has become so powerful that her iconic name has even managed to trickle down to the science of botany. When an individual’s name, especially a global superstar’s, has managed to filter down to the naming of plant species, that individual has undoubtedly become an icon.

While I might be biased, admittedly a self-diagnosed pop-culture junkie and avid supporter of Queen Gaga, I believe these ferns are yet another level of success for Gaga. Her motions and agenda for social equality, combined with her astounding vocal and performance abilities, make her the best in the business.

The popular music scene is in the midst of a female-dominated era, with stars such as Katy Perry, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha clawing their ways to the Queen of Pop throne with their beautiful acrylic nails. However, Gaga is in a league of her own in terms of raw talent, passion for the arts and social justice.

The fact that Pryer and her team chose Gaga’s name to label the newly-discovered ferns speaks to the ultimate diffusion of pop culture and Gaga’s level of fame. The naming of these ferns certifies Gaga as a pop culture icon whose work will resonate for generations to come.

Gaga is currently on the South American leg of her “The Born This Way Ball Tour,” slated to come to the United States in mid-January, and is working on her third studio album “ARTPOP,” slated for release in 2013.

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