Lady Gaga: What is the Truth?

She’s regularly in the news. She’s the current a pop sensation. She generates press by acting, dressing, and presenting herself as over-the-top. At age 24, Stefani Germanotta has achieved international fame within two years of the release of her first album. In the midst of the glamour and well-honed PR, is there something worth considering from a spiritual perspective about Lady Gaga?

Lady Gaga personifies post-modern culture. In her concerts, she boldly shouts, “I hate the truth!” It’s clear that she objects to the status quo which supports a notion of truth as something fixed which limits people and creativity. In the post-modern era, truth is relative and constructed by the individual. It is this self-constructed truth which Lady Gaga invites her fans to consider.

Costumed with masks, elaborate head-gear, and clownish eye-wear, Gaga challenges her audience members to consider the truth of who they are as individuals and accept and affirm themselves in their individual uniqueness. There is a truth within people which is more important that a classic understanding of objective truth.

Her recent St. Louis concert was protested by reactionary Christians from the Westboro (Kansas) Baptist Church who preached a different understanding of truth: that certain groups of people are hated by God. Lady Gaga responded to the protest by asking her fans not to listen to the hate-filled preaching outside or engage with the protestors in any way. Instead, she reminded the audience of a simple message: Jesus loves everyone. Later in the show, she encouraged audience members to accept themselves for who they are because God sees them as “super stars.”

The drama created by the protestors for the Westboro Baptist Church helps to illustrate the evolution of “truth” from a fixed, classic perspective to the post-modern relativistic understanding of truth. For the members of the Westboro Baptist Church, there is one unchanging truth articulated in their interpretation of the Bible. This understanding of truth divided people into groups: the saved and the unsaved; saint and sinners; the elect and the condemned. The truth of the post-modern era is that these categories are nothing but illusions. Instead, there is one group of people: human beings. In this position, truth is based within the experience of the individual. A post-modern perspective allows for different truths to exist simultaneously. Based on this understanding, Lady Gaga reflects on the same Bible and preaches a different message: Jesus loves everyone.

The juxtaposition of the members of the Westboro Baptist Church and Lady Gaga provides a very clear illustration that our beliefs dramatically shape the way we look at the world, understand people, and live our lives. The fixed and narrow truth exemplified by Westboro Baptist Church leads judging and condemning others while displaying hatred in the name of God. Affirming that each person holds a unique inner truth, Lady Gaga does what few preachers actually do: proclaim a message that each person is of inherent worth.

After attending Lady Gaga’s concert in St. Louis this past weekend, I cannot help but wonder: if her success just a matter of marketing? Or is the energy she generates among young people related to a message of acceptance and personal worth that is too often silent in the world today? Perhaps Lady Gaga invites her fans to consider a deeply spiritual truth born out of the experience of the isolation which characterizes post-modern culture.

© 2010, emerging by Lou Kavar, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.

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5 Responses to Lady Gaga: What is the Truth?

  1. Cyrus says:

    I’ve had similar discussions about what the “Gaga Phenomenon” is all about. Britney, Beyonce, and nearly all of the last two decades’ pop stars have been nothing but a product of overly-calculated corporate marketing. Lady Gaga does seem to be generating a new energy – or at least a return to when pop stars like David Bowie and Madonna had at least something to say about society and an understanding of art.

  2. Lou says:

    Cyrus:

    Knowing that you’re both a music lover and analyst of pop culture, I appreciate your insight. Given that Lady Gaga raises funds for homeless youth at her concerts and addresses issues of self-esteem, do you think this marks an increased social consciousness in the emerging generation?

    Lou

  3. Laura Brown says:

    I think the Spirit just keeps showing up in the places where classical christianity and those in the center of the church least expect it. I am very taken with Lady Gaga and am thrilled to see the Spirit show up right in the middle of our culture!

  4. tava says:

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