As any follower of pop music knows by this point, the dawn of a new Lady Gaga album is upon us, and so are a slew of new controversies. While some of them, such as comparisons of first single “Born This Way” to past hits by Madonna, are trivial, one of the newest controversies to pop up seems not only premature but misguided.
Born This Way’s second single, “Judas,” was released April 15 amidst a wave of anticipation from Gaga fans worldwide. Fans are also anticipating the release of the accompanying music video, which was teased earlier in the week by co-director Laurieann Gibson as featuring Gaga as a Mary Magdalene character of sorts to the figure of Judas.
When news of Gaga’s Magdalene portrayal broke, several organizations came out to protest, calling the move anti-Christian and anti-Catholic. Catholic League president Bill Donohue issued a statement saying, “She is trying to ripoff [sic] Christian idolatry to shore up her talentless, mundane and boring performances. Another ex-Catholic whose head is turned around.”
Meanwhile, Cecilia Maldonado of Chicanos Unidos Arizona issued another press release, saying “It’s so easy to knock Catholicism and Christianity these days, especially if you have absolutely no musical talent whatsoever. Lady Gaga is Lady Caca.” Maldonado also stated, “Why can’t Lady Gaga pretend to be Muhammad? Now, that would be very brave!”
First off, as a fan, I argue that she’s reinvigorated the pop music field, and she’s (in my opinion) far and away the most talented and least boring pop artist working today.
More importantly, Lady Gaga has brought up her Catholic upbringing for years, including 13 years in Catholic school, and despite Donohue’s assurances, there’s nothing to suggest that she’s left the faith in which she was raised.
As for Maldonado’s suggestion of pretending to be Muhammad instead: what Gaga is doing is a form of artistic expression, and while in theory she could choose to portray Muhammad if she so desired, she’s using the religion in which she was raised to portray a concept. A concept, by the way, that has not been released for viewing to the general public. There’s no suggestion, at least at this point, that Gaga is “knocking” Catholicism. The since-released song doesn’t show any knocking, anyway.
This brouhaha, at the very least, is a notable presentation of a larger problem that, while around centuries, has only grown more pronounced in the last decade. Namely, with the rise of the Internet, it’s become significantly easier for stories to travel around the world, getting twisted, torn and refashioned until reality and perception are miles apart.
With this ease, it’s also become easier to have knee-jerk reactions to stories that rub us the wrong way. It’s human nature to want to respond to something that goes against what we believe. It’s modern technology, though, that makes the reactions go global in an instant.
Sometimes, admittedly, knee-jerk reactions are correct. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, at least. Often, though, such reactions lack the full knowledge and clarity that time can provide. In the case of Lady Gaga, “Judas” and Catholicism, maybe waiting for a music video, or at least for the actual song to come out, would’ve been the right call for Maldonado, Donohue and the like.