What Lady Gaga Says About You

How a pop star exposes our best and worst impulses.

If you want the truth about a culture, don’t look to its politicians. Look to its artists.

And when it comes to Lady Gaga, it’s hard to not look.

As the current reigning queen of pop, Lady Gaga has garnered a name for herself by delivering chart-topping music, high-concept videos and eye-popping fashion. Judging by the anticipation for and unescapable promotion of her newly released album, Born This Way, this isn’t likely to change. But she’s more than just a spectacle. The fact she is so popular means there’s something about us, the American public, that has made her a musical monster. As controversial and outrageous as she is, we have to admit Gaga holds up a mirror and exposes truths about ourselves, for better or worse. As her “little monsters,” are we really cut from the same Kermit the Frog doll dress cloth?

We All Know the Fame Monster

Lady Gaga is all about visual appeal. What else would you expect from a woman who has worn meat “clothing” and hung herself execution-style on stage? But behind her outlandish outfits and stage persona is a secret to how Americans view themselves in light of the world and each other.

A pioneering spirit, the idea of “boldly going where no one has gone before” is uniquely American. Lady Gaga embodies this through her efforts to top not only her fellow pop musicians, but herself. This is what keeps the public interested. What strange getup will she don at the next awards show? What bizarre act will she commit on stage? Such questions generate her mystique and point to our culture’s desire to forge new frontiers, to one-up everyone else, to come out on top. It’s all about swimming away from the sea of conformity and embracing new ground.

While there’s nothing wrong with being a trailblazer, Gaga’s stunts also show how starved we can be for attention. There is a dark side to this desire to always be top dog. We can, in her words, be “so happy I could die,” running off distractions like cars on fuel, existing to pursue the next great thing. But we need more to our lives. Lady Gaga represents our culture’s desire to both embrace and break from the pointlessness of leaving our heads and hearts on the dance floor.

We Have Bad Romance

Gaga also shows how American culture views love and romance. Lady Gaga’s body of work is steeped in sensuality. She brags about her sexual knowledge and willingness to put it into practice.

Though I’m not defending her use of sexualized images, Gaga is borrowing from our culture’s voyeuristic obsessions and throwing it right back into our faces. Just as her “love songs” aren’t based on biblical standards, our culture doesn’t embrace a true love perspective either. Love and romance have given way to cheap thrills and sex. Any sense of mystery is gone. Lady Gaga pushing this to its limit reflects on our culture’s seemingly no-holds-barred approach to sex.

But just as a commitment-free lifestyle devoid of true love doesn’t end in romantic fulfillment, Gaga’s lyrical relationships go nowhere. She discusses relationships she knows aren’t beneficial, preferring to stay with men who are bad news (as in the controversial "Judas"). While Gaga exposes how sensually saturated American culture is, beneath the surface, she depicts the dilemma of trying to do what’s right, forsaking what isn’t good and healthy for us—no matter how appealing it seems. It's as if this cultural icon is pointing out that Americans are consumed with chasing after pleasure—but that, deep down, we know it won't satisfy us.

We Were Born This Way—But How Should We Live?

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Lastly, you can’t deny Lady Gaga is the poster girl for individuality. Gaga certainly doesn’t support conformity and her appeal shows this. She believes each person is a unique creation, regardless of social background, racial heritage or even physical handicap. She asserts our differences as cause for celebration and encourages freedom to live our lives the way we were born to, echoing our culture's focus on the individual rather than the group. Gaga relishes in being herself and in turn shows the rest of the world
how Americans aren’t and shouldn’t be afraid to be a little different. Unfortunately, she tries to justify questionable lifestyle choices with this argument. Gaga shows a darker side to our culture, one driven by ambitious competition and a sex-centered, "if-I-feel-it-then-it's-OK" worldview. Plus, it's pretty hard to take any of what she says when she talks about Born This Way ushering in a new race of hyper-tolerant people ...

This part of Lady Gaga's message isn't entirely original. As special individuals made by God, it’s also scripturally sound to rejoice in our uniqueness. Our culture admires individuality and we should respect and view ourselves as Designer originals. It’s good to be leaders, to take risks and do something original with our lives. We’re all given a unique arsenal from God and need to deploy it to serve Him in the world. Though that "unique arsenal" likely doesn't include a spiky face and being birthed out of an egg on national television.

Beneath her layers of steak skirts and wild wigs, Lady Gaga’s music and mystique mirrors elements we retain in our culture. They might not always be pretty, but they’re true.



Will commented…

Seriously yall let's not read too much into this... She's not a genius she's just copying Madonna... if there were blogs when the "like a prayer" video came out the posts would be identical. It's a simple formula..Nothing gets you on Tv like some good ole Christian bashing. Just remember Jesus died for GAGA too, turn off her music and go love thy neighbor.


Jett Farrell-Vega commented…

Very good article. I find myself frequently on both sides of the fence when it comes to Lady Gaga. One day her music is anathema to my ears, the next I catch myself in the shower singing "Rah-rah-rum-na-na" lol. I applaud her non-conformity but wish it went all the way to the core. On one hand she spits in the face of pop culture, but then plays to it byappealing to base lust in her videos. Like a number of Christians, I was concerned when I heard about "Judas", but was surprised when I heard some statements from her choreographer, who is a Christian. Listening to the song and the proposed meaning (being torn between being drawn to the light, but siumltaneously still feeling in love with darkness), I was astonished. In truth, so often that is the struggle when someone is on the border of turning to Christ. There would be freedom in the light, but the allure of those things in the dark still calls. I'm not crazy about the portrayal of Mary Magdelene in the video (just because of the common insinuations about her relationship with Jesus), but overall I was actually impressed that there was more than just blatant controversy to it.

If nothing else, I'll give Gaga credit that she makes her audience think sometimes... and I truly hope she comes to know Christ because it sounds like there's a part of her that is searching for truth. When I hear her talk, it sounds like there's a hole in her life that she's trying to fill with anything she can... I wouldn't be shocked if she finds it in Christ.


Nicole P. commented…

Thanks for your insights. I, too, had some reservations about "Judas" for the same reasons but was pleased to find myself proven wrong. From my own perceptions of the video, I can't quite see the perfect Mary Magdelene connection. Instead, I view her character more as a woman in love with her Savior but who lets the world and fleshly desires call her focus away and eventually pull her in. The video's final shot is a reminder of what happens spiritually when we reject Christ. "Judas" paints a very sobering picture of the soul who has rejected Christ to follow the inner Judas.


Anonymous commented…

I'd be careful with Lady Gaga. I definitely don't want my kids listening to her or watching her videos.


About WFG commented…

I like this post up to its extent.Lady Gaga has garnered a name for herself by delivering chart-topping music, high-concept videos and eye-popping fashion...So We must anxious to know what she says about us..

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