I don't get it ... yet I get it.
I don't get the fact that there is much ado about a two-night performance of one of the world's most eccentric musical artists. I don't get it because the mere mention of the name Lady Gaga already spells over-the-top production and tantamount to shock value.
So why is anybody still shocked and scandalized?
People know that --- not unless, of course, you are of the belief that music stopped evolving after Petula Clark (who was here a number of months ago to sing Downtown and Don't Sleep in the Subway), then you have not heard or even read about musical artists who literally push their acts to the edge. You see, the point is that you do NOT expect someone like Lady Gaga to sing songs that could be used in Catholic ceremonies --- not unless you have the gumption to play Born This Way as your wedding march. Lady Gaga --- much like many who came before her --- like Grace Jones, Alice Cooper, Kiss and that whole generation of rockers literally set fire to the stage to mark their concerts.
Uh, I am not trying to figure out where all these protesters claiming that Lady Gaga has violated their sensibilities have been hiding all these years. I have come to a hasty conclusion that they are operating on the principle of blind faith --- or are actually alien abductees whose last taste of music included Do You Know the Way to San Jose by Dionne Warwick.
Ah, but let's put that aside first. After all, we are talking about a lady who prefers to call herself Gaga.
You see, Lady Gaga is all about busting your guts out and wearing raw meat as an evening gown.
Lady Gaga is about wearing those ridiculously unwearable armadillo shoes, outrageous costumes and passing them off as dresses that make Grace Jones look like Maria Von Trapp. Lady Gaga is all about getting noticed, making hardcore statements and to the point of over-emphasizing that "I am an artist --- so if you can't handle this, then f--k you!"
Let me clarify: I am not a Lady Gaga fan. I will not pay fifteen thousand bucks to watch her concert.
I can listen to her music but I am not going to exactly shed tears listening to Poker Face or Paparazzi even in their diluted acoustic versions. I like her music well enough --- but, just for the sake of joining the fray and enjoying the argument, I still prefer Madonna. Maybe it is because I am a child of the 80's so I would still choose Express Yourself over Born This Way.
But since I have chosen Madonna, it does not necessarily mean that I should hate Lady Gaga.
Considering the spectrum of available music nowadays, you just listen to whatever you choose to hear. You absorb everything and filter what you want --- and who you choose to appreciate or even adore.
For the record, it does not mean that just because these are my choices that everybody else is wrong.
Let me reiterate: everybody has his or her own opinion about personalities, issues and dilemmas. That is guaranteed by our constitution. And when we choose to express what we think or feel, we also must respect the varied kind of reactions we are bound to elicit because we chose to make our presence known. Democracy assures that we have a choice. Or choices.
Yet what is most disturbing nowadays is that the debate is no longer a question of having choices. It is about moralizing the act of choosing.
Wait. Wait. We are now getting to the nitty gritty of all this.
Lady Gaga has already been castigated in certain countries because of strong religious codes that forbid her brand of live stage performances. Fine. I completely understand that. I acknowledge and respect the tenets of the Muslim religion that forbids raunchy performances especially delivered by a female artists. That is not merely embedded or even implied but declared by the religious practice.
But when the issue involves Christian audiences that suddenly become all too antsy about Lady Gaga's concerts because she is branded as the devil's disciple for singing a song called Judas and having a video that is misinterpreted as a homage to the man who deceived the Christ while cavorting with the devil, we know that we are in deep trouble somewhere.
The protesters insist that an artist who is capable of writing and performing such songs are purveyors of perversion and apostles of evil. Yeah, right?
It is completely ridiculous to explain to these demagogic creatures what the song means. It will either fly over their heads or they will refuse to understand. And why so? Because members of such a rabid population will only listen to what they choose to hear ... and look at what they want to see.
If you listen closely, what Judas has to say is nothing particularly new --- as it is also the theme of Webber and Rice's Jesus Christ Superstar that purports that Judas was part of a much larger plan for God's blueprint for redemption.
Let me put that in much simpler terms: right from the start, Judas Iscariot was part of the divine scheme for the Savior to be condemned so that he may die, resurrect and eventually ascend to Heaven. End of explanation. This is tantamount to saying that without Judas' betrayal ... the Divine Plan for Salvation would not have taken place and that the Iscariot's role should be understood with greater compassion.
Now what is the big deal about that?!
Or could it be because Lady Gaga's videos include images that range from titillation to chaos all for the sake of shock value? The use of religious iconography --- as well as its visual play --- did not start with Gaga's videos.
Remember how Madonna got herself into trouble with Pepsi because of her Like a Prayer video showing burning crosses and a black saint coming to life as a choir sings the Gospel-like chorus of the song? Uhm, that was like the early 90s --- and we have moved on and assumed that people have matured enough to understand the harmlessness of such images.
In films, the same kind of Christian over-sensitivity leading to gross overreaction came with films like Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ or even Mel Gibson's The Passion of Christ. Google those movies and you will find their own levels of uproar because there is a tendency to over-read and nitpick on elements that would qualify as sacrilege.
Religion is indeed a sensitive subject for discussion --- and the determination of what is proper from improper follows certain standards set by somewhat ambiguous norms. To insist on what is black from white is to resort to fundamentalism. Some people think that this is being smart but actually suggesting textbook fanaticism --- or being an uptight moron.
Besides, if it will appease those who scream their heads off wanting to stop Lady Gaga from polluting the virginal brains of the Filipino audience, they should consider the cost of the concert tickets.
Those who will be exposed to the radiation of Gaga-esque Satanism should be able to dole out P2500 to see the iconoclastic performer from a distance. That ticket pricing excluded approximately 99.9% of the local population.
And --- more important --- amid all this screaming, foot stomping and cute marches down Roxas Boulevard wearing anti-Lady Gaga t-shirts, don't you think we have other more important issues to tackle than a two night concert?
We can enumerate a whole shopping list of national and international concerns that affect the country so much more than -- uh --- someone singing Edge of Glory wearing a gown made of authentic Kapampangan tocino.
Where were all these moral guardians who are so concerned about the country when these issues were being discussed? I guess these creatures were ... born that way.