Lady Gaga has caught a bit of heat lately for some vague and contradictory political statements she has made. I’m not talking about the stuff about body acceptance or empowering gay kids, which is fairly difficult to fuck up. I’m talking about the rest of it.
Last week, she caught some flack for a comment she wrote on Twitter (where else?) about the first presidential debate. After telling everyone to #Vote and #BeInvolved, she decided to get partisan. “I believe its important to note before this begins that Romney is a millionaire and paid well below the average tax rate, paying only 13.9%” she tweeted. Critics immediately jumped up and down on her, noting that Lady Gaga is a millionaire as well, and it would be very surprising if the accountants she paid to manage her fortune were not currently exploiting every tax loophole in existence. Maybe not the best way for her to support Obama, but at least her heart was in the right place?
Next, she decided to pay a litte visit to Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, i.e. the guy designated “an enemy of the United States” by the US State Department. Obama’s State Department. (He’s currently at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London trying to avoid extradition to Sweden on rape and sexual assault charges. Nice.) Perhaps taking a page from the ultimate vague political pop star M.I.A. (who tweeted at her, “If ur at harrods today, come visit Assange at the Ecuador embassy across the st. im there. Ill bring TEA and CAKE”), Gaga posted a photo of her with Mr. Assange alongside the caption “no headline,” because why bother learning about a complicated issue when you could just throw out a vaguely political image in the name of ART?
Since then, people have called Gaga’s politics muddled and naive at best, and potentially damaging at worst. (Because her “little monsters” tend to take her word as bond, at least when they can figure out what she’s saying.) Personally, as a feminist and a human being, I’m not sure I’d want to hang out with a guy who has rape charges currently pending against him, let alone brag about it. But hear me out. Lady Gaga’s ham fisted attempts at politics may not be very impressive, but they are something. It would be easy for Gaga to play it safe and avoid ridicule, but she very much wants to be a progressive voice, so she’s trying, however imperfectly. Maybe some of her smarter “little monsters” will even be inspired to go out and learn things about these issues for themselves. A lot of them probably wouldn’t be paying attention at all, if it weren’t for Gaga.
The way I see it, the primary benefit of these attempts, when she gets them right, is to the world at large. (Awareness!) And the primary loss when she gets it wrong is to herself, which is also fun, because I like reading and writing jokes about the dumb things celebrities say. So maybe instead of getting angry at her for trying and failing, we should encourage her to keep on keeping on. If nothing else, it should generate some amusing blog posts.
Photo: Lady Gaga