Lady Gaga: a good Christian? Or a great Christian?

After viewing Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” music video (dir. Francis Lawrence) for the first time, I’m not sure of how to precisely describe the experience.  It was artistic, full of imagery, and sexually explicit.

Beyond Gaga’s characteristic “†” and a brief crossing of herself while dancing, my curiosity of how this video was directly related to the “Christianity” part of “Christianity and Popular Culture” was only satisfied when professor Harris informed us that Gaga is a self-proclaimed Christian.

But seriously.  Gaga.  A Christian?  

This Gaga?

 

 

 

Or This Gaga?

When seeing images like these and scantly clad in her music videos, I question how “Christian” she actually is.  American Christian values promote modesty and censorship of sexual content, especially in movies and on television.  I struggle with labelling Gaga a Christian because much of what she produces could be considered soft-core pornography.

In my search of a quote to confirm her Christian-ness, I found Gaga’s thoughts on religion in an interview with Larry King.  (Interview clip)

“I’m very religious, I was raised Catholic, I believe in Jesus, I believe in God, I’m very spiritual, I pray very much. … At the same time, there is no one religion that doesn’t hate or speak against or be prejudice against another racial group or religious group or sexual group.  And for that I think religion is also bogus.  So I suppose you could say I’m a quite religious woman who’s confused about religion.” – Lady Gaga

Never once does she say she’s a Christian.  Her struggle with being religious and hating the bad things religions do, is something that resonates with many people – myself included.  I wonder though, if she’s playing a part.

In the same way, Johnny Cash was a musical legend (which Gaga is in the making), and he embodied being a: rock star, country boy, folk hero, preacher, poet, drug addict, rebel, sinner, and saint?  I thoroughly appreciate what he has to say for himself:

“I’m still a Christian, as I have been all my life,” … “Beyond that I get complicated.”

and,

“I am not a Christian artist, I am an artist who is a Christian.”

In the “Bad Romance” video we see Gaga wanting the love of the world (the music industry and/or fame), struggling when taken, offering herself up, her ‘baptism’ into that world (drinking the vodka), and forced to dance in slavery.  We see her overcome “the man” and literally burn him.

But we also see images of her weeping – a terribly sad and repentant Gaga?

In “Judas” we hear:

Jesus is my virtue/And Judas is the Demon that I cling to

Therefore: Gaga is both fond of and despises religion.  She preaches a gospel of extreme inclusivity.  She, “Dream[s] of and envision[s] a future where we have a more peaceful religion, or a more peaceful world.”

If Gaga purported herself as a Christian – already believing in Jesus and God, promoting peace, and loving others – would she be a good christian? or great?

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Response to: Hanging out with Jesus Christ’s post on “Feelings of Discomfort and Strictly North American”

[See “Hanging out with Jesus Christ’s” original post here]

The Family Guy episode, “Dream of Jesus” most certainly displays the ‘Jesus is my friend’ tenor of American Christianity, and I too find the dinner table scene quite hilarious.

 

I think the “feeling of discomfort” which you describe, imbued by your Catholic aunt, when seeing Jesus portrayed without sanctity or holiness and so casually is felt by many.  Her conceptualisation of a sacred and holy Jesus, deeply rooted in her faith, has certainly stayed with you.  Many in our generation may not have ‘Christian’ parents, but the chances of our grandparents having this conceptualisation are much greater.  Their thoughts, I’m sure, have an impact on our thinking – especially as youngins’.  And so, though we often laugh at Jesus’s behaviour on screen – especially with lines like, “Peter, I think you may be my saviour” – there is certainly an underlying feeling of, at the very least, discomfort at the derision of the sanctity and holiness of Jesus.  I certainly feel it.

 

Your last point on the idea of the friendly, “local neighbourhood Jesus”, figure that appears in American Christianity is strictly limited to appearing in North America is something I completely disagree with.  Saint Young Men (聖☆おにいさん Seinto Oniisan), is a Japanese manga series that tells the story of Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha as roommates in Tokyo taking a vacation on Earth.  The four volumes of the series have sold over 2.6 million copies and it was the tenth best-selling manga series in Japan for 2009.  In it:

“Jesus is portrayed as a care-free, generous, and humorous “sei-jin” (holy man or adult in Japanese) … Jesus is very friendly to his apostles. But because Jesus is even nice to Judas, this makes Buddha worry.  Whenever Jesus’ emotions are at a high or low peak (due to finding something funny or being scared), miracles may happen unexpectedly.  Jesus is a devout follower of drama shows, and reviews them on his online blog.”

(Read more at the Wikipedia article to enjoy the hilarity).


This is one extremely fantasic(ally hilarious) example of Jesus being portrayed in a similar fashion of the “friendly Jesus” or even more liberally than found in American Christianity — outside of North America.