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Did Lady Gaga Steal Bette Midler’s Mermaid-in-a-Wheelchair Schtick?

Who would have known that pop stars dressing up like mermaids would be so controversial? First, Lady Gaga’s fans attacked Katy Perry for donning fins soon after Mother Monster debuted her Yuyi the Mermaid character. Then, a disability rights group criticized Gaga for performing as Yuyi in a wheelchair. And now, Bette Midler — who recently showed up on our list of “40 Culturally Relevant Mermaids” — has entered the fray. Over the weekend, she tweeted, “Dear @ladygaga Ive been doing singing mermaid in a wheelchair since 1980-You can keep the meat dress and the firecracker tits-mermaid’s mine.” Although Gaga hasn’t publicly responded yet, Midler already seems to regret lashing out. Last night, she offered a conciliatory tweet: “@ladygaga, let’s drink this over at the Emmys in September. Fabulous mermaids can coexist!” Whether Gaga’s mermaid-in-a-wheelchair routine was a rip-off, an intentional homage, or sheer coincidence — see both photos at Rolling Stone and judge for yourself — we think she’d be a fool not to take Midler up on the offer. Gay icons should never feud.

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