Dissecting the Latest Accusation of Lady Gaga Plagiarism

Here’s one for the conspiracy theorists. This side-by-side image of Lady Gaga’s Applause cover, shot by Inez and Vinoodh, and a strikingly similar picture of the late singer Zeki Müren, the Liberace of Turkey, is making the rounds.

But you can give your dot-connecting and plot-spotting a rest because it’s highly implausible the Lady Gaga image is a case of plagiarism. Here’s why. While it might be tempting to take the 1988 date on the Zeki Müren image as a given, he would have been in his mid-fifties, much older than he looks here. Also, the “original” image doesn’t appear at all in Google Images, making it unlikely to have ever existed.

Furthermore, the white pleated sleeves are identical in both images, meaning the photographers would have wholly copied that part of the image, not just recreate it, and there’s no reason to think they’d go that far. In fact, this animated GIF pretty much proves the sleeves are original to the Lady Gaga version, making reverse plagiarism more likely. 

Real or not, the comparison feeds into a common belief that Lady Gaga appropriates her more definitive looks from other musicians and artists. Detractors still claim she swiped her lightning bolt-painted face from David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, while the French artist Orlan, an early pioneer of Carnal Art, has sued Lady Gaga to the tune of $31 million for allegedly co-opting the face implants and decapitated head in the Born This Way video.

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