Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lady Gaga's Self-Expression Is More Than Welcome

Pope Benedict XVI has apologized for the sins (pun quite intended) of the Catholic Church. This seems to make it a very odd occasion to bring up the censorious specter of the sacrilegious in response to the pop star Lady Gaga's music video for the song "Alejandro."

The Catholic Church has become such a self-mockery that the expressionist portrayal by Lady Gaga is tame in comparison. In the video for "Alejandro," Gaga is seen as a nun surrounded by dancing, half-naked men. The dancers pick her up, parting her dress and revealing cross-adorned underwear. (The outfit actually closely resembles that of the comic book icon Magdalena.) It's positively material for the family dinner in comparison with the actions taken by many Catholic priests and hushed up for decades:

In 1979, an 11-year-old German boy identified as Wilfried F. was taken on a vacation trip to the mountains by a priest. After that, he was administered alcohol, locked in his bedroom, stripped naked, and forced to suck the penis of his confessor. (Why do we limit ourselves to calling this sort of thing “abuse”?) The offending cleric was transferred from Essen to Munich for “therapy” by a decision of then-Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, and assurances were given that he would no longer have children in his care. But it took no time for Ratzinger’s deputy, Vicar General Gerhard Gruber, to return him to “pastoral” work, where he soon enough resumed his career of sexual assault.

Gaga has riled many, bringing out articles such as this one from CNN asking if she'd gone too far and musician Katy Perry saying absurdly "Using blasphemy as entertainment is as cheap as a comedian telling a fart joke.”

The wall set up by the unthinking dedication of Church devotees was undoubtedly a strong contributor to the suffering of children being unheard for so long. Whether it is Monty Python tearing apart messianism in the film Life of Brian or Lady Gaga's "blasphemy," ridicule of the Church helps break down the mental chains of fear that orthodoxy fastens to its subjects. With the Church less feared and more publicly ridiculed, the next wave of victims (of which there may be plenty if it remains an establishment hostile to the natural sexual state of man) may very well be more forthcoming in their cries for help.

Beyond an informal defense, I would also like to express that Lady Gaga's video and song is a treasure. This sort of bold, sophisticated artistic expression has been long absent from the American cultural plateau and its return is quite welcome. The howl of the puritans only makes her work further appreciated.

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