April 19, 2017

Lady Gaga’s Monsters

Can We Overcome Our Fears Through Musical Expression?

By In Music

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, or Lady Gaga, is a Grammy-winning singer who has sold more than 15 million albums and 40 million singles worldwide. She is a highly talented songwriter who writes almost all of her music and even writes for other singers as well.

Larry King describes her as a musical and social phenomenon. She was on the cover of TIME magazine – which included the 100 Most Influential People In The World. Gaga is one of them because she is not just an average entertainer. She speaks at rallies, writes letters to her US senators, and wrote a repeal to fight against the abolishment of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law.

The Little Monsters

After Gaga went on tour recently, she said that her fans were “salivating at the mouth” and that they “behaved like monsters.” Thus, she now calls them her “little monsters.” She even got a “Little Monsters” tattoo on her microphone-holding arm this year.

Perhaps the reason for the intimate relationship with her fans is because they are the first group of people to approve of her. Gaga said on Larry King Live, “Since my childhood in school, and for a very long time, I used to always feel like such a freak. I didn’t have very many friends in school. I had a few close friends. And I — I wasn’t a popular girl. And got made fun of every day and couldn’t really relate to anyone and didn’t want do dress like anyone else and liked different things… And I felt like a freak, and I had nowhere to go.” Lady Gaga now has the friends she never had. Millions of them. One of her fans recently tweeted, “I love my life because my life is you, Lady Gaga.”

Larry King hosts Lady Gaga on his show and dresses up for the occasion.

Gaga has become somewhat of a savior for the unpopular misfits of society. Later on in the interview with Larry King she says, “…And I guess, through the music and the performances we’ve done — the clothing that I’ve worn, and as the fan base has begun to grow, I’ve sort of watched this massive group of misfits join together to liberate themselves. They love the music and they love what the House of Gaga is creating, because it has a sense of individuality, a sense of freedom, a sense of non-conform — conformity. And I — and I celebrate that.” She admits that her fans are “really, really, really troubled” and that “I still am fairly troubled.”

One of the unique things about Lady Gaga is that she aims not to monopolize her new fame, but to invite her misfit fans to be a part of that fame. The bio section of her web site includes “The Fame [music] is about how anyone can feel famous… But, it’s a sharable fame. I want to invite you all to the party. I want people to feel a part of this lifestyle.”

The Music and Performances

The overarching theme of Lady Gaga’s music and performances is tolerance and acceptance. Gaga told Larry King, “I’m more interested in helping my fans to love who they are and helping them to reject prejudice and reject those things that they’re taught from society to not like themselves.” She called her tour, Monster Ball, a “celebration of shame,” a “rejection of insecurity” and “in essence an exorcism for my fans and for myself where we sort of put everything out on the table and reject it.” Fans are invited to come, lay all of their shame at the foot of the stage, reject it, and find acceptance through each other.

She particularly appeals to the insecurities felt by women and gays. The costumes Gaga wears on stage and on camera (many of which are not flattering) are “meant to be a rejection what people view about women.” Her song “Alejandro” is a celebration of her love and appreciation for the gay community. Since the gay community has been heavily persecuted, the “House of Gaga” has been a refuge for this crowd. She has led the way for her fans to be open and honest about their insecurities. In a twitter post, Gaga said, “I’d wear any of my private attire for the world to see. But I would rather have an open flesh wound than ever wear a band aid in public.”

While Gaga’s The Fame album focused on fame, the follow-up album The Fame Monster focused on the darker side of fame, as experienced by Gaga while traveling around the world in 2008-2009. She said, “While traveling the world for two years, I’ve encountered several monsters, each represented by a different song on the new record.”

Here are the monsters she encountered (all tracks on The Fame Monster):

  1. Monster (Fear of Death Monster)
  2. Bad Romance (Fear of Love Monster)
  3. Don’t Call My Name (Fear of Men Monster)
  4. Speechless (Fear of Loneliness Monster)
  5. New York (Fear of Heights Monster)
  6. Bloody Mary (Fear of Alcohol Monster)
  7. Take It Slow (Fear of Sex Monster)
  8. Kiss & Run (Fear of Commitment Monster)

What has Lady Gaga done with these fears?

Slaying The Monster

Lady Gaga claims to be a very spiritual person. She admitted to Larry King, “I’m very religious. I was raised Catholic. I believe in Jesus. I believe in God. I’m very spiritual. I pray very much.” However, since every religion to her seems to be prejudiced against some other racial, religious, or social group she added, “I’m quite a religious woman that is very confused about religion.”

Lady Gaga battles the fame monster.

Where does Lady Gaga go then for spiritual clarity? Deepak Chopra – who began his career in the 1980’s publishing books self-help books on New Age spirituality. Chopra recently debated Pastor Mark Driscoll in a Nightline Face-Off: Does Satan exist? Chopra’s answer was no. Evil is just an illusion to him. That is why, when Lady Gaga came to him for help with her reoccurring morbid dreams, Chopra said “Don’t worry so much [about the dreams]. You’re just very creative.” Since Gaga was a little girl, she has had nightmares of an Anglo fish. Chopra said that in order to get rid of this childhood monster Gaga needed to put it in her show. She told Larry King in her interview that she took Chopra’s advice and created a gigantic Anglo fish for her to fight and kill right before the big finale. Will that be enough to get rid of her monster?

The Gospel

I appreciate Lady Gaga’s work ethic. She has worked really hard and has done a good job of stewarding her creative gifts. I appreciate her authenticity. She admits that she is troubled and that those who follow her are troubled. That is more than most Christians would like to admit about themselves. Also, her dream for the world is a noble one: “I dream and envision a future where we have a more peaceful religion or a more peaceful world, a more peaceful state of mind for the younger generation. And that’s what I dream for.”

How will this dream be fulfilled according to Lady Gaga? Tolerance. But, will tolerance produce the kind of peace Gaga is longing for? Tolerance is a buzzword now-a-days but it doesn’t provide two important things. First, it doesn’t provide an absolute line for which we can discern right and wrong. What happens when someone crosses Gaga’s line of tolerance? Second, tolerance doesn’t offer the power to fully and finally defeat our insecurities and enemies. To simply “throw off” our insecurities at a concert or battle our enemies on stage metaphorically is insufficient. We need a real Savior who can cover our insecurities and defeat our enemies in reality.

Isaiah prophesied about a coming Savior who would do just that:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
– Isaiah 9:6-7

Jesus has arrived. He is the Prince of Peace who brings wholeness to a troubled world. He has already, decisively, and triumphantly defeated Satan, sin, and death and reigns over all things. He is just and will punish everyone who has ever acted unjustly toward those who have been rejected in our society. That’s good news for Gaga’s fans.

Furthermore, Lady Gaga doesn’t have to fear death, love, men, loneliness, heights, alcohol, sex, or commitment any longer. He’s put to death each one of those fears. Jesus has already conquered death, displayed how much he loved us by laying down his life, commanded men to lay down their life for women, said that he will never leave or forsake us, given us the Holy Spirit to control us instead of alcohol, taken the fear out of sex by putting it within the binding covenant of marriage, and has publicly displayed his commitment to us on the cross so that we wouldn’t be afraid to commit ourselves to him. The person of Jesus is better than the idea of tolerance.

The House of Gaga will one day be overshadowed by the House of the Lord. In the new heavens and new earth, we will get invited not to a stage, but to the throne of God where we can enjoy the One who has taken away our insecurities and defeated our enemies.

The Recap

  • Lady Gaga, a self-proclaimed religious woman, has identified her “monsters” and sought to eliminate them through her music.
  • The “House of Gaga” is a refuge for the misfits of society. Fans are invited to come, lay all of their shame at the foot of the stage, reject it, and find acceptance through each other.
  • Gaga’s vision is peace and her mission is tolerance and acceptance. 
  • The gospel bears witness to the person of Jesus as being more powerful than the idea of tolerance.