If you are an adult, you probably remember your wild and more rebellious moments as a teen, getting into things just because your parents or other authority figures told you not to. So, when you hear some people talking about how bad Lady Gaga is for the children and youth of today, you may shrug your shoulders and say teens are just being teens, and it’s something harmless, anyway. (Flashback to Madonna.) What is Lady G all about and why the current concern?
On May 21-22, 2012, Lady Gaga is coming to Manila for the Asian leg of the “Born This Way Ball Tour,” at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. According to The Born This Way Ball website, it’s “the tale of the Beginning, the genesis of the Kingdom of Fame. How we are birthed and how we will die celebrating.” Ticket prices are at their highest at P15,840 (for patron standing) and lowest at P2,120 for general admission (free seating).
The start of her Asian leg was in South Korea, where some Christian groups rallied against her, and an 18 and above age policy for concert admission was enforced. There was also a mass protest in Muslim Indonesia, and eventually her permit to perform was recently denied by the Jakarta police, cancelling her sold out 52 thousand people concert, which was to be the biggest show on the Asian tour.
- WHO IS LADY GAGA?
- the most popular music icon to date, being #1 on Twitter with 24M followers as of Mother’s Day (May 12, 2012), and with over 47M likes on Facebook
- In 2011, she was Forbes’ Most Powerful Woman in the World and she made it to Time Magazine’s list of the most influential people in the world. Also ranked number 4 on Billboard’s list of top 40 top money makers in music for 2011, grossing more than 25M dollars.
- She is 26 year old Stefani Germanotta, a baptized Catholic, of Italian descent. She went to the same upscale Manhattan private school as Paris and Nicky Hilton, and thus, led a comfy, affluent life.
- She dropped out of college and did burlesque shows at 19. She admitted to taking off all her clothes because no one was paying attention to her in a show, and of course, that got everyone’s attention.
- Tried songwriting and was discovered as a singer, and came up with albums but her career didn’t really take off until she changed her name to Gaga and took the racy, outrageous image she has today.
- She considers herself religious.
- She is vulgar, wears sexual, indecent and outrageous outfits, like her meat dress in a 2010 awards show, where she wore nothing but raw meat. Her drag queen style and sexually provocative performers gets everyone taking about her – either for or against her.
- Her vulgar language also includes using the word “retarded” in an interview for those who criticize her music. (Jennifer Anniston used the same word in an interview and got so much criticism for it.)
- The central themes of her music videos are sex, violence and power. She explores bondage and sadomasochism and likes to portray herself in bloodstained scenes.
- She claims to be sexually-empowering women so that young women can stand up for what they believe in.
- She is an advocate of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual) community, and is openly bisexual. Considered the unofficial ambassador of Obama, she supports the worldwide campaign led by the U.S. government to promote global acceptance of homosexuality and homosexual rights (to marry, adopt, etc.) According to U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the U.S. government was instrumental in getting Lady Gaga to perform in the gay parade rally in Rome. Funding from the Global Equity Fund was used to host concerts by Lady Gaga in far-flung countries, like those in Asia. The U.S. government wants to further the cause of universal gay rights.
- WHY IS SHE SO POPULAR?
- Teens always love something new and as different from the norm as possible. Her being controversial adds to the appeal to them. She is dangerous but she is also brave to stand out and be weird. (When she arrived at the 2011 Grammys, she was carried in an egg by horned slaves atop a crucifix.)
- Her target market are the teens, who love her creativity and musicality. Her tunes are catchy. But teens do not seem to say much about the controversial lyrics of her songs and the provocative images of her MTV’s.
- She calls her fans “Little Monsters” which seems to be out of affection, embrace, and inclusion. “Little” is said out of playful affection. She is their Mother Monster. The Little Monsters are the freaks, the odd, the weird, the lonely, the rejects, nerds, and castoffs. They are the VICTIMS of this world who nobody seems to care about. (This sounds like what Jesus did. He, too, spoke to the tax collectors, sinners, adulterers, thieves, etc., to their brokenness, sadness, alienation.)
- One Little monster moster.mike said that even if others may say her stage and set are creepy (for the Born This Way Ball), “deep inside it’s the reality of our journey here in this world. Some songs may sound devilish but it’s really just metaphors. Actually, she’s a very spiritual person.” This is what people are yearning for. They are looking for something greater than themselves. They are looking for the spiritual, not religion.
- Hers is a gospel of self-acceptance. It’s a “Love yourself” slogan that appeals to everyone who has ever felt alienated from the rest, and laughed at. She said she herself was thrown into a garbage bin and laughed at by people around her. She calls herself the “voice of all the freaks and misfits.” They find refuge in her, as she tells her little monsters, “Just love yourself and you’re set.” She once said: “I love my fans more than any artist who has ever lived.”
- Set up Born This Way Foundation to “foster a more accepting society where differences are embraced and individuality celebrated to build a braver, kinder world together, move towards acceptance, bravery and love.” Testimonies of bravery are mostly by homosexuals “coming out of the closet” but also of those sexually assaulted and minorities.
- ANALYSIS: ARE THE YOUTH AND LADY GAGA A “BAD ROMANCE?”
- Shock Appeal
Lady Gaga wants the attention, so she tries to be as controversial as possible, starting with her 9 tattoos on her body and gaudy wardrobe (the weirder, the better). She attains shock appeal by expressing irreverence like Madonna did in the 80’s with her giant fire burning crosses and sexually-explicit videos and concerts, but is more ridiculous in dress and style. In the “Alejandro” video, she swallows the rosary and dresses like a nun. Some call her a Madonna wanna be. Madonna wore lingerie, Lady Gaga wore meat.
- Aims To Antagonize The Catholic Church
She is taunting the Church by desecrating Catholic symbols she grew up with. She mixes the sacred and the sexual in her music, concerts and MTV’s. She loves androgyny, and once used an inverted cross on her lower private part as a symbol of androgyny (a type of individual that’s neither male nor female but could fulfil both roles). Though she claims to believe in Jesus, her irreverence for the sacramentals (crucifix, rosary, etc.) and her bisexual lifestyle do not reveal this. She also says she worships her fans. “They are my religion.”
Claiming to be quite a religious woman, she seems to be very confused about religion, a lost little girl struggling with her faith.
The more she gets a negative reaction from the Catholic Church, the more she gets free media mileage from anti-Church media outfits (CNN, BBC, MTV) and the support of all those who consider the Church unsympathetic to the “rights” of the LGBT community. (Only the Catholic Church and Islam are very strong about their views against the LGBT lifestyle, but Catholics are a more benevolent and forgiving “enemy.”)
- Sending Mixed Messages (Confusing and Misguided)
She believes one could be spiritual and choose whatever one wants to believe, and do whatever you want. As a spiritual person, you can’t do whatever you want. You have to do the good/right thing! This kind of thinking reflects the relativism and postmodern secularism that are prevalent in today’s world.
She says her fans are “her religion” but the whole Lady Gaga image is about “look at me” narcissism and self-absorption.
“Just love yourself and you’re set.” It’s not that simple. If kids steal but love themselves, is that okay?
It’s about respecting individuality, but she makes fun of Catholicism. If she is advocating an embrace of differences and individuality and celebrating a kinder world of acceptance and love, how can she put down Catholics’ practices?
She seems sympathetic to those who are alienated, but her message is not life-affirming. She exploits women, sex, and Catholicism in her music and performances.
- Born This Way
You were “born that way” can be misleading. Sapagkat tayo’y tao lamang. It’s not just all about biological determinism. We are the product of nature, but also of nurture (society’s influences, and our choices). The elusive gay gene was never found. There is also the application of born that way to mean not just sexuality, but race, gender, class, caste, etc. Are racists born that way? Is there no other way to change what is?
- Queen of Androgyny
This is inconsistent with the Christian understanding of human sexuality. There isn’t just one kind of individual in the world who can fulfill both roles of men and women. God created us male and female, different but complementary.
- For Arts Sake
She will do anything to get the attention of everyone, especially the media, all for “art’s sake.” In her “Judas” MTV, she dresses as Mary Magdalene to a bike-riding Jesus and apostles, then sensuously nibbles on Jesus’ ear. She says it’s not a religious statement but a social and cultural one. Similar to Mideo Cruz’s sacrilegious condom art in his August 2011 CCP show, Lady Gaga always makes a statement using sacriligeous music. We are not to take her song lyrics theologically or read into them. She is not preaching the gospel in her own way. She is just making provocative music that sells.
- Influence on the Youth
– Her indecent attire can influence the kids’ sense of morality. Will they also want to wear revealing clothes? Will they also want to pose nude on magazine covers? Even as Catholics, will they think being bisexual is okay?
– Being an advocate of homosexuality, porn and a generally secularist, sexual culture, will the youth also consider rape, homosexuality and sexual sin images as harmless and be desensitized by them? When is a song “just a song”? If it’s memorized by millions of her little monsters, does it become them? (You are what you eat.) If they keep being bombarded by images like simulate group sex scenes and lesbian sex scenes, will they not imbibe such a character as well (This is what they will become.), not necessarily acting on these but accepting it if others choose to act in such ways?
– Gaga desensitizes kids and robs them of their childhood innocence with concerts that are too provocative and even violent, like with the machine gun fire in the “Born That Way Ball” in Seoul last April 2012.
- View of women and femininity
– Lady Gaga and the secularist view of women and femininity is charged with a radical feminist view which goes right against the Christian view of women. Lady Gaga celebrates androgyny, but the Catholic Church goes with God’s plan of the feminine genius, where women really have an irreplaceable role in the world which includes motherhood and complementarity with men vs. sexual rights and other radical feminist views (against men, marriage, family, and the Church). Is Lady Gaga a real lady from the perspective of God’s plan?
- WHAT CAN WE DO AS GOOD CATHOLICS?
Lady Gaga, media and the secular world wants us to react and make a scene. More media material, more money for Lady Gaga. Media is provoking an emotional, angry response. Let us not fall for it. But this is what we can do:
– Pray for Lady Gaga who seems to be lost. Do not hate her. Pray also for all artists who have such a great influence on the lives of so many in this world.
– Pray for the youth who are easily influenced by the latest trends. That they may listen to their hearts’ deepest desires and find true happiness in Christ. Intercede for the youth, especially your children daily.
– Pray for yourself, too. For wisdom, for the right words to say, the right action and loving witness. Step up your sacramental life (Holy Eucharist, Sacrament of Reconciliation).
- GET INVOLVED.
– Know what your kids/youth are watching and why.
– Watch and listen to the music so you can understand their world and why they like what they like.
– If you don’t raise your kid by love and communication, including setting boundaries, Mother Monster will.
- ENGAGE IN HEALTHY DIALOGUE.
– Don’t start off by bashing all the artists your kids or youths listen to and love. Rather, engage in a healthy dialogue with kids and teens. (Who’s your favourite singer? What’s your favourite music? Why? What is it about the artist/music that you love?)
– Process the music with your kids. Affirm anything positive. Then speak up and correct errors. (Ex. Is that an accurate understanding of women?) Prepare to discuss the issue again and again.
- SET BOUNDARIES & HELP THEM FORM THEIR CONSCIENCE.
– Lessen and limit time on watching and listening to music that may not be a positive influence to the child/teen. (You may not be able to tell them to stop listening if they’re teens, but limit TV viewing time or i-pod anti-social time.)
– Provide alternative options for spending their time (watching a movie together, family bonding time, exercise, etc.).
– They need to know what the Church is saying and why. The formation of conscience is a life-long process. You cannot think for them, but you can prepare them to think for themselves, by being formed in the Christian virtues. For kids, parents can explain things and ask questions to check comprehension. For teens, they can join youth groups in the parish, as well as outreach to get them to focus on others’ needs and not themselves.
- REACH OUT.
– Seek out the marginalized – the “freaks,” weird, lonely, nerds, etc. who don’t feel anyone cares. Do what Jesus did – speak to them, love them, don’t judge them but guide them in their actions. Don’t condemn the person, but the act. Show them you care. The formation follows after they know you’re on their side.