Lady Gaga: Kierkegaard in fishnet stockings

“Lady Gaga is a Kierkegaard in fishnet stockings, who can play piano and guitar,” according to Rodney Clapp writing in The Christian Century.

Stefani Germanotta was an awkward teenager, at least as she remembers it. Her peers bullied her for being ugly, for having a big nose and giant eyebrows. They teased her for her laugh, for her love of theater, for her penchant for constantly sing ing, for the way she wore her makeup. They made fun of her tan and her hairdo. “I used to be called a slut, be called this, be called that. I didn’t even want to go to school sometimes,” she says.

Despite the stratospheric levels of her success, she hasn’t forgotten being a misfit. “It wasn’t until I put my music out into the world that I was able to look into myself and honor my own misfit and honor the reality of how I was treated when I was a kid, not by my family, but by my peers in school, and how it affected me.”

Consequently, Lady Gaga’s message to her devoted fans is that it is all right for them to be “little monsters.” Others may regard them as too fat or too skinny, or harass them because they are gay or otherwise different. But as their Mother Monster, she reminds them that they have real worth. In concerts she tells them she was (and is) a misfit, but look at her now. She promises them that they, too, may one day stand on a stage at Madison Square Garden and soak in lapping waves of applause. She shares her fame and herself with them—Lady Gaga is always “on” for her public—and regards her fans as “at least 50 percent, if not more,” of her person.

In turn her fans not only adore her but begin to re spect themselves. A 15-year-old boy writes representatively, “I am an extremely devoted little monster, and I’ll be a little monster for life. . . . At every concert you’ve said that you want to liberate us, and that is what you’ve done. Your songs have taught me not to listen to haters and be who I am, because, baby, I was born this way!”

Kierkegaard was at pains to defeat all prettification and accommodation of the gospel, to remind those who would call themselves Christian that Jesus when he lived on this earth was widely despised and rejected, treated like a monster. And if that Jesus is the Jesus who calls us to be like him, even to be a part of his body, then Christians are the original little monsters. Lady Gaga is playing a variation on an old song.

Addendum 7.20.2001Gaga and Bono – Congregation Resource Guide.

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