Lady Gaga’s Alien Logic

Watching Lady Gaga’s Grammy performance of her new single, “Born This Way,” was sort of like watching Species while pondering the end of western civilization.

Nothing about Gaga makes much sense. Her meticulously crafted, over-the-top essence is founded on a fetishizing of head-scratching chaos, postmodern meaninglessness  & “just dance” hedonism. Whether she’s sporting a dead-Kermit dress, bloody pieces of cow, or mutated shoulder blade prostheses straight from Syfy’s Face Off, Gaga prides herself on being an outrageous parody of shock-art subversiveness.  In everything she does, Gaga makes a headline-grabbing “statement,” the substance of which is usually just a declaration of the primacy of “anything goes” surrealist circus fun.

The interesting thing about “Born This Way,” the anthem to go along with Gaga’s recent foray into pro-gay rights politics, is that it tries to make a statement of objective meaning even while it bombastically insists on a universally binding, “only you can determine what’s right for you” subjectivism.

The message of “Born This Way’ is that no matter what you are (gay, straight, bisexual, Kermit, an alien with horns and a Batman bubble butt), you should love yourself and embrace it all. “There’s nothing wrong with loving who you are,” sings Gaga. “Cause he made you perfect, Babe… God makes no mistakes.”

OK, Gaga. Even if I agreed with your illogical philosophical assertions about everything and everyone being perfect just as they are (which I don’t), how do you expect anyone to take seriously your “this is the right way to believe” political/theological statements when they are couched in a persona so thoroughly, amusingly dismissive of normative truths or general sense-making?

Among its many problems, “Born This Way” heralds the self-defeating message that no one can tell anyone else who they are or what they ought to be, even while it assumes the privileged mantle of moral authority to assert this apparent  truism in the first place.

All logical inconsistencies aside, the song is just a bleak, hopeless celebration of nothingness. If the abiding truth of reality is that everyone in the world (including me) is exactly as they ought to be–every last broken, frail, misguided, treacherous one of us–then the world is a far darker place, and virtuous existence a far more futile endeavor, than any of us previously imagined.

But I believe, because my experience proves and my faith compels me to believe, that none of us are, or were born, just as we should be. Quite the opposite actually. From the get go we are selfish and sinful, out-of-sorts and awkward, prone to wander. To throw up our hands and say that all is well, we are “born this way,” is false to our very nature and tragically bereft of a theology of hope. “Born this way” is a self-satisfied approach to life that believes itself to be freeing, but inadvertently undercuts the things (repentance, redemption, reconciliation, moral formation) that bring about true human flourishing.

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26 responses to “Lady Gaga’s Alien Logic

  1. Pingback: 3 things in the music world that made me happy this week « Chris Morphew

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  3. This is excellent. Truly insightful.

  4. …yet she is catching all the disenfranchised souls, while the church is banging bells.

  5. perfectly said.

  6. Are you writing more books? You have amazing way of wording things.

  7. Well said. I saw an interview of her and instead of listening to anything she said, all I could think about was how long it takes to do her make up each morning.

  8. “From the get go we are selfish and sinful”

    Ha

  9. Pingback: Elsewhere: Bulletstorm, Glee, Radiohead, divorce, Netflix, Hulu, Lady Gaga, etc. | Christ and Pop Culture

  10. Have you watched the interviews she’s done about “Born This Way” and actually listened to what she’s said about the record? She insists that the song is a celebration of life and being who you are and embracing the fact that you have your entire life to discover the person that you could potentially be. She’s not simply stating that you were born this way, so go with it. It’s more than that. It’s a growth and discovery way of thinking, which I think is incredibly applicable to most people. Gay, straight, bi, white, black, whatever. We can be who we want to be, and not what society tells us what is acceptable. I think you’re over-thinking the entire concept of the song.

    And as far as her outfits and make up goes, that is Lady GaGa. She recently stated in an interview “don’t you know me by now? I’m a lunatic.” It’s her way of expressing how she feels on the inside and how she portrays herself. She is eccentric and over-the-top, not for attention-seeking purposes, but because that is simply how she loves to see herself.

  11. Pingback: Elsewhere: Bulletstorm, Glee, Radiohead, divorce, Netflix, Hulu, Lady Gaga, etc. - disciplesnow.org

  12. Never underestimate her monsters to come to her defense.

  13. P.S. You monsters, this article is a little above your knowledge level, I don’t expect you guys to actually comprehend what he’s saying.

  14. I just find it funny that this comment thread’s apparent authority on intelligence is someone named “LOL”.

  15. Oh, sweetie… here we go again with the whole predestination/Calvanism/Armenianism/can G-d make an apple so tempting that he himself would want to take a bite/did he really have Job’s best interests in mind when he let Satan have his way with the long-suffering one or is The Almighty just toying with us like puppets on strings arguments of Days of Old?

    First off, I’ll be up front. I’m crazy. Was I born crazy? Don’t know. It happened in my 20s. Had to go on drugs, see doctors, go through all kinds of tests. It runs in my family. I see things, hear things, have a hard time holding down a job. I have even predicted future events. Many would call this possession or demonic oppression. The religious freaks in my family tell me to pray it away. After all, this great G-d will heal right? Out, demon! But then again I was made this way. It was destined to be, correct? The all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing One knew this would happen and I should embrace this gift of the gods.

    I’m also bi. I knew this growing up. But this is a sin. An abomination. Again, I should pray it away. But it doesn’t go away, just like the mental illness.

    So we are at an impasse. What is true, what is not? What shows us that we are made in his image, what changes and what does not? Jesus cast out demons and performed exorcisms yet said nothing regarding [homo]sexuality.

    I’m leaving the judging up to G-d on such matters. Follow the whole of the Law and throw your holy water if you will. I follow Christ, not Paul.

  16. @LOL: your condescension didn’t add anything to this thread but negativity. I agree with Brett, as it seems you do, but stooping to the level of name calling (“You monsters”) doesn’t encourage healthy dialogue; it just encourages spitting and, well, more name calling. The knowledge level of this article is above name calling. You can do better than that, so please try.

  17. @LOL: I don’t think that you can say that this article is above all “monsters'” level. That is an incredibly inconsiderate and outright stupid thing to say. Considering she has over 8 MILLION followers on Twitter alone, it appears that you’re saying that all 8,000,000+ people who love Lady Gaga and enjoy her music and her performance art and what she stands for as an individual are not up to Brett’s level. It’s possible that you are intellectual in your own right, but don’t you think a tad degrading and self-righteous to put yourself above all of those people as far as levels of intelligence and intellect? Although I wouldn’t put it above someone who uses “LOL” as their username. I’m sure someone at your “level” could have used something more down-putting and snobbish.

  18. Pingback: Loon’s Linkage (February ’11) « The Common Loon

  19. “it tries to make a statement of objective meaning even while it bombastically insists on a universally binding, ‘only you can determine what’s right for you’ subjectivism.”

    Well-said.

    “If the abiding truth of reality is that everyone in the world (including me) is exactly as they ought to be–every last broken, frail, misguided, treacherous one of us–then the world is a far darker place, and virtuous existence a far more futile endeavor, than any of us previously imagined.”

    Also well-said. I like how you bring everything to this clear, concise statement and I’m glad you tied in your personal beliefs toward the end. This was a really insightful post. The whole “believes itself to be freeing” concept is really interesting. Seems like a lot of us have the concept of freedom backwards–worldly defintion of freedom vs. our freedom in Christ–so it’s great that you touched on that. I haven’t heard this song, but I will be paying closer attention now when I first listen.

  20. Yeah. Still don’t care. Go read the comments on Youtube from monsters regarding her Born This Way video. I find it hard to take people who refer to Gaga as “Mother Monster” seriously. Just look at Perez Hilton. He is the face of the fan base. Enough said.

  21. It doesn’t matter if you don’t care, because you’re just one person. She has plenty more to back her up and love her music and her art.

  22. Art? LOL.

    *hence the name ;)

  23. step outside the box squares

    white rich religious people

    fuck

  24. Pingback: Babies: Born This Way? | The Search

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  26. I have the house upside down to be proving various reforms
    I can not wait to be an expert
     
     
     
     
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