Lady Gaga and the Philippines: Art and the Influential Bruhaha

When I first heard that some religious group was protesting Lady Gaga’s concert, I was confused. I didn’t understand what the big deal was. Lady Gaga already had several concerts here in the Philippines, and no one seemed to mind. Now it has blown up into some big issue where politicians and other celebrities are accusing the singer for being influential (err…okaaayyy), for leading the youth astray, and for being evil incarnate. Have they ever really listened to Lady Gaga’s songs? People, it’s just pop songs. No big deal. There’s no need for any riot.

What’s the big deal, baby?

I loved Gaga’s Fame and Fame Monster albums, but I didn’t like her Born This Way album that much. I liked the tracks “Born This Way,” “Judas,” and “You and I,” but I felt that the rest of the songs were overproduced.

I don’t understand why people are getting so worked up about “Judas.” “Judas” is an “I’m-in-love-with-a-bad-boy” +insert name “Judas” +insert some religious imagery=pop dance song. There’s no religious commentary at all. It’s just a pop song. If you don’t believe me, listen to it.

Now if you really want to look for “blasphemous” songs, you’re better off trying “Dear God” by XTC:

Assuming but not conceding that blasphemy is bad, “Judas” doesn’t even touch the amount of blasphemy that other artists have done.

Not forced at all, baby

I’m all for freedom of expression. If you don’t like what Lady Gaga does, you are not forced to listen to her music. It’s your right to express your disapproval of her, to say that she contradicts your values, to discourage the youth from idolizing her, you can call her satanic all you want, but you have no right to pressure the government to shut her up and shut her down.

My friend said that she read somewhere that some anti-Lady Gaga protester said that the singer can express herself as long as it’s under artistic expression, but the concert goes beyond artistic expression because it’s already been commercialized. What the hell does being commercial got to do with her right to express herself? So once an artist makes money out of her art, then she should transform it into something that is socially acceptable? All the non-government-approved art can only exist in the corners of the artist’s mind or the attics of her home? What the hell is that kind of freedom?

She’s just so influential, baby

Another weird criticism against Lady Gaga is that she’s influential. Err…okaaayy. So anyone who has power to influence has to shut up? Shut up politicians then, you are influencing people! Shut up artistas na-iinfluence mga kabataan! Shut up mga commercials! Shut up na lahat!

Taken to the same extreme paranoia, one can say that every person can be influential. If you tell your friend to watch Avengers, and he watches it, then you’ve already influenced him. Oh my god, you have to be arrested now by the gag police and thrown into jail!

Still images can also influence. If you were sitting in a restaurant and someone noticed the cute outfit that you were wearing, and that person decided to buy something similar, then you influenced that person to buy into your style and fashion sense.

Artists definitely have opinions, and that’s why they create art. If the art doesn’t purport a certain worldview, what kind of art is that? Created from a mindless being who isn’t rooted in space, time, history, and experience? Seriously, who can produce that kind of “non-opinionized” art?

Even if artists have their own wordviews, I think that people are exaggerating Gaga’s power to influence. The way they describe it, it’s as if when you listen to a Gaga song, you are magically brainwashed, and you morph into something “evil”. Seriously people? Are religious people really that afraid of art? If you listen to pop songs in general, you’ll notice that almost all of those songs are about sex. Have you turned into a sex addict? No. You will also not grow horns when you listen to “Pokerface,” and no matter how many playbacks you listen to, Lady Gaga’s songs will not turn you gay either.

Is Gaga a bad influence? In my opinion, Gaga tells people to be themselves, to not be ashamed of who they truly are, to feel that no matter how weird they are, there are people like Gaga who will welcome them and accept them just the way they are. Gaga fights for the rights of the gay community. She fights against discrimination and bigotry. She fights against bullying which has led so many teenagers to commit suicide. She stands for sexual liberation. I agree with my friend, Sharmila Parmanand,  when she said, “I think these religious groups are afraid of ‘wild women’–women who publicly take control of their sexuality and are admired for it.”

God, be scared of my art, baby

If religion is based on truth, and art is but a creation and a figment of the artist’s imagination, then why is religion so afraid of art? This is not the first time that religion has felt threatened by artistic creations. The Church has banned and burned books, destroyed paintings, opposed theater, and protested against movies. What’s so dangerous about art that makes the representatives of God buckle at its feet?

Maybe they are afraid of a similar creator–the artist who can think things into becoming, who can breathe life into something that previously did not exist, who can create worlds and annihilate others, and who can find inspiration and meaning in life without the use of anything else other than the power of their minds and the limitless wonder of their own spirits.

In their fury, in their protests, did the religious give away their own terror at the face of something that can destroy what they say they believe in, in what they say is an irrefutable truth?

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Note: For some entries in this blog, a few names and details have been deliberately and willingly changed by the author. This is a personal decision made by the author for specific reasons known to her and is not an endorsement for censorship.

All the opinions expressed in this page and in this blog are my own and do not represent the official stances of the companies, institutions, and organizations that I am affiliated with. Why? Because tangina, I’m a person. I’m not just a manifestation of corporate interests. I have an identity that is separate from my company because even if human beings are paid for a service by corporations, human beings are not owned by corporations. For my salary, masyadong mura ko naman binenta ang pagkatao ko.


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