I know. I got your attention with that title, didn’t I? It seems like Lady Gaga’s name is coming up everywhere these days—in conversations, on television, at baseball games…Let’s face it. She’s pretty hard to ignore.
At first glance, it seems a little hard to see how this unusually captivating music icon-of-the-moment can provoke us to think about anything Catholic. But in the past few months, she’s practically been haunting me by being spoken about in the most unexpected places and situations, and I figured it was time to put my thoughts on Lady Gaga’s fame to good use.
So what can Catholics learn from Lady Gaga?
Our culture craves intrigue and shock-value.
Maybe you saw the dramatic story on the news a few weeks ago depicting an uncensored Lady Gaga having a “moment” at a Mets game. Or perhaps you read about all the hype and controversy that surrounded her nine-minute “Telephone” music video upon its debut. (The ten-second clips I caught on the news were more than enough to clue me into the strange—and for me, unappealing—entirety of the video.) One thing is certain: our culture must have serious cravings for intrigue and shock-value, because Lady Gaga’s got it—a lot of it.
But what about Catholicism? Is it lackluster next to the array of chaotic “art” distributed to us by the Lady Gaga enterprise? Hardly. In fact, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
If our culture really wants intrigue and shock, it should try reading the Gospels. Jesus put forth some quite compelling challenges to current, traditional ways of thinking. He taught people to love enemies, not seek revenge against them. He told people to give away their possessions, so they could walk around with nothing more than the sandals on their feet, bringing the un-boring and unfiltered Gospel to everyone they met. I could go on, but we Catholics know it doesn’t take a filthy rich music producer to spot surprise and uniqueness at its best.
Popularity doesn’t mean everything—or sometimes anything
Did you hear about the big race between President Obama and Lady Gaga to become the person with the most followers on Facebook? Well, the Lady got the prize. The celebrity recently passed 10 million fans, making her the most “liked” figure on the popular social network. And fame is everything, right?
Not for Catholics. Back to the Gospels we go, to see how Christ teaches us that popularity doesn’t mean everything—or sometimes anything. Remember the Beatitudes? I’m pretty sure Jesus said “Blessed are the meek” and “Blessed are the persecuted”—not “Blessed are the popular.”
Purity is more original than provocativeness
I don’t believe I can think of a better word to describe Lady Gaga than the word “provocative,” because no one can argue that she isn’t. But instead, the word I seem to always hear people use in relation to her is “original.” Have you looked at our culture lately though? What’s original about provocative people and their activities? They seem to be the norm.
Now, I can think of one thing that never goes out of style and is ever-original: purity. And it isn’t practiced very strongly by our modern culture (making it all the more unique). So you know who is really an “original,” unique lady then? Mary, our Blessed Mother.
There is nothing more captivating than purity. Today, it isn’t the commodity it should be, so when it’s on display, it grabs everyone’s attention.
Our society needs to get “caught in a good romance”
Full disclosure: that catchy tune to Lady Gaga’s famous song, “Bad Romance” has gotten lodged in the playlist in my head before—thanks to a mere few seconds of hearing it on the morning news. Yes, the beat is a musically memorable one, but so are the lyrics, in a kind of sad, gross, and depressing way.
The song is basically about a woman being “caught in a [very] bad romance,” one that appears to be everything but self-sacrificial, loving, and sacred, which is what I thought romance was supposed to be all about.
We need to remind our society what it’s like to be caught in a good romance, one based on the premise of self-gift. I remember the most romantic story I ever heard; it was one of a God who became man and died for the love of His life, conquering death and showing His bride the most authentic love the world has ever seen. Actually, I’m living this romance.
People want to be followers of a leader
It was about a year ago that I had someone explain to me that Lady Gaga’s fans actually have a name for themselves: little monsters. These little monsters can get pretty obsessive when it comes to staying in-the-know about everything going on in their pop idol’s life and career.
What does this teach us? People actually want to be followers of a leader. But it’s all about choosing the right leader…
Jesus had a multitude of His own followers; they were called disciples. These disciples were encouraged by their leader—Christ—to adhere to the highest standards of faith and charity. They were meant to become saints—not monsters.
There is a need for people to find their true identities
When I asked a friend of mine why she likes Lady Gaga as much as does, she told me, “She’s just herself.” I asked her to explain, and she elaborated by telling me that “Lady Gaga knows exactly who she is as a person, and that is something I want. I want to be able to know who I am—and then be that person.”
There is a desperate need in our world today for people to find their true identities. Regarding this necessary task in life, I have one thing to say (which isn’t really something I can be credited for saying at all): “I wish I could lose myself and never find myself except in God!” –St. John Vianney
That’s the key. It’s not about finding yourself; it’s about finding Him.
Just the other morning, one of the morning news anchors commented aloud, after reporting another Gaga-focused story, saying, “Man, Lady Gaga is just brilliant! She finds a way to make it into the news—always.”
Christ also finds a way to make His presence known in our culture and in our lives. But He does it in a much less assaulting fashion. He simply invites. And then He waits, leaving it up to us to give Him our enchanted attention.
Well, I guess I do owe you a thank you, Lady Gaga. I really don’t “get” you—unlike almost everyone else in my generation—but you have certainly provided me with some valuable insights about living the Catholic faith in a Lady Gaga pop culture. I’m sure you would be as surprised at my gratitude as I am at having written about you.
Lady Gaga—may you experience the intrigue of the Gospel, the heavenly bliss of unpopularity, the beauty of purity, the excitement of getting caught in the best of romances, the treasure of taking after a heroic and virtuous leader, and the joy in finding your true identity. Yours truly, a little disciple.