COLUMN: Cult of Celebrity: Did Lady Gaga blaspheme Easter?
Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons.
Editor's note: This post is part of a series by Dr. Baker on Our Values about core American values. This week Dr. Baker is discussing the cultural obsession with celebrities, what it means, what values it represents, and even the function it may serve.
FOX TV commentators, among others, are tossing around the term “blasphemy” to describe Lady Gaga’s release of a new single, “Judas,” at Easter. But — others dismiss Gaga as just the latest to follow in Madonna’s tracks. And — it’s possible this whole Judas-at-Easter news story is a bit of a hoax, anyway.
Confused? Intrigued? Just getting back to OurValues after a few days of vacation and wondering why I’m choosing to write about Lady Gaga again? Last week in OurValues.org, I asked readers if they knew which topics were most important to Americans, comparing web searches for “jobs” with “Lady Gaga.”
Readers were intrigued by that column. So, this week, I’m turning to the values behind our “cult of celebrity.” Today, we’re starting with Gaga (real name Stefani Germanotta, born 1986) and the flap over the weekend about her new “Judas” single.
Was “Judas” somehow timed to coincide with Easter? At least the YouTube version was released on April 15 and had racked up 10 million viewers by the time FOX News commentators — among others — reported the news and claimed it was a slap at Easter. Perhaps it had nothing to do with Easter; or perhaps it really was a Holy Week slap.
One thing is certain: As usual, Lady Gaga’s song is sexually provocative and includes lines such as, “I’m just a holy fool, oh baby he’s so cruel. But I’m still in love with Judas, baby.” Later in the song, she sings, “Jesus is my virtue; Judas is the demon I cling to.” There are more suggestive lines in the song. Perhaps you’re among the millions who already have heard it?
Who is complaining? Some of the loudest criticism comes from long-time conservative watchdog, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in New York City. Bill became a celebrity himself, a few years ago, for defending Mel Gibson’s movie about Jesus’ crucifixion.
Donohue presents himself as an all-around watchdog for traditional Christian values. In the past, he has tackled hit TV shows from South Park to CSI when he didn’t like their depictions of religious values. He even criticized President George W. Bush one year for sending out White House “holiday” cards at Christmas.
Here are excerpts of what Bill said about Gaga via FOX:
“This is a girl who gets dressed up as a nun to get raped, who swallows the rosary, who has been dissing Catholics on and off! She’s another of these ex-Catholic girls who has a problem with her old religion. I’m a little fed up with it. If she has a problem with religion, go pick on the Muslims and see how they handle it. The girl has some real talent. If you have real artistic presence and ability, why do you have to go there? . It’s not going to corrupt kids. It’s not going to tear down the Catholic church, but it’s at the point where I want to say: Time out! I want to hold up a stop sign.”
As we begin our week on the Cult of Celebrity, how do you sort out these issues?
Do you sometimes want to hold up a stop sign?
Do you see a Donohue-style watchdog as helpful? Or not?
Are you a Lady Gaga fan? What do you make of her?
Please, comment below.
Dr. Wayne E. Baker is a sociologist on the faculty of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Baker blogs daily at Our Values and can be reached at email@example.com or on Facebook.