Last weekend, American mayors gathered for their annual conference in Indianapolis. As it often does for such conferences, the U.S. Conference of Mayors assembled an impressive array of political leaders, policy experts and industry big wigs. Lectures and panels were held on a variety of issues, ranging from water safety and technological innovation to business development and educational programs. And then the Mayors heard about inner peace and meditation from a pop star.
That’s right. The U.S. Conference of Mayors invited Lady Gaga—a pop singer best known for wearing a meat dress to an awards show and for sometimes forgetting to wear clothes at all while running errands–to sit on a panel with the Dalai Lama to discuss inner peace and meditation. All together now: Namastupid!
While the Dalai Lama is certainly an authority on meditation and mindfulness, Lady Gaga is a bit of a head scratcher on this topic. Her qualifications appear to be that she sometimes lights aromatherapy candles and practices yoga. Good enough for the Mayors, I guess.
Yet she’s hardly a calming force. In fact, she likes to shock and agitate. Her music and lyrics are provocative and her videos often feature violent and disturbing images. At 2009 VMAs, she gave television audiences quite a show. Naturally, MTV gave her revolting performance a glowing review:
And then, in a wrinkle no one saw coming, Gaga staggered across the stage as blood began to drip from her ribcage and she wailed the lyrics to the song about media vultures. On the verge of tears, she dabbed at the blood, wiped it on her face and collapsed into a heap while a dancer wailed in agony and gently laid her down center stage.
Hanging listlessly by one hand, Gaga rose above her dancers and, blood smeared on her face and caked on one of her eyes, stared lifelessly at the stunned crowd while the sound of camera shutters filled the air and a golden halo was projected on the big screen behind her.
In recent years, Gaga has been working on her image. Her performances with singer Tony Bennet received wide praise and broadened her appeal beyond the younger club-going music crowd. She’s also, smartly, tapped into the social justice movement—advocating for certain political movements and for her fans, whom she calls her “monsters” and declares are just like her (minus the millions) because, like her, they just don’t fit in. Just like Liza Minnelli is a hero to the gay community, Gaga’s a hero to the misfits.
Now apparently Gaga is also a thought leader, taking on heady intellectual issues and appearing on stage with religious, media and business leaders. She was respectful, even ladylike, at the Mayor’s conference. During the panel, the Dalai Lama focused on compassion and selflessness—and without understanding the irony, Gaga nodded and agreed that these are important qualities. She offered her own rambling, pseudo-intellectual answers to questions. At one point former Today show news reader Ann Curry—who moderated the panel—asked Gaga a question about kindness and why mayors should consider kindness when managing their cities. She responded by saying “The really fantastic thing about kindness is that it’s free. It’s the best recourse that we have because you can give and give and receive kindness and the well of it inside you will never dry up.”
Yet, when it comes to being kind and respectful to people of religious faith, Gaga’s well of kindness dried up long ago. Just like Madonna did decades before her, Gaga takes particular pleasure in insulting Christians. Her 2011 video for her song “Judas,” includes Gaga portraying a lustful Mary Magdalene who has the hots for Jesus’ disciple Judas Iscariot. The video portrays Jesus’ followers as jacked-up ravers, his disciples as club bouncers and bodyguards and the foot-washing scene takes place in a hot tub with a writhing and nearly naked Gaga sitting in between a six-pack clutching Judas and a golden thorn crown-wearing Jesus. You know, just like in the King James Bible.
Perhaps Gaga will take her own words to heart and realize just how many of her actions, songs, performances and behaviors demonstrate a deep-seated unkindness and contempt for people of faith. Perhaps she’ll realize the importance of using her talents in less harmful, disrespectful ways.
Maybe she can meditate about it.