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Like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, Lady Gaga Pushes Social Activism Buttons

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"Did I miss the Lady Gaga boat?"

That's what a 40-something friend recently asked me. He had never seen a Lady Gaga video, didn't know what all the fuss was about, and felt, well, old.

Lady Gaga became a phenomenon when Generation X wasn't looking. Suddenly, it's Gaga 24/7. Everywhere.

Parents may think their kids have returned to infancy with all the babbling about this music goddess. Some worship her on social media sites they've created (the International Church of Lady Gaga, for one). Some want to live with her. They want her to be president. They stutter and stammer before spewing, "I have to see Lady Gaga in concert. Now. Can we drive to [insert farthest place from where you live]?"

You need a brief "Paws Up" primer just to keep up. (More on "paws up" in a few.)

Lady GagaAs of Monday, Lady Gaga, who has used social media and the Internet to parlay her fame to astronomical altitudes, became the most followed person on Twitter, surpassing Britney Spears' previous record.

At 24, this new Queen of Twitter has 5.7 million followers. That's more than President Obama's political organization (5 million) or former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin (230,000). On Facebook, Lady Gaga has 16.5 million fans, which also tops Obama, Palin or any other political figure. Politicians could only dream of such adoration.

Lady Gaga calls herself Mama Monster. Her fans, in turn, are Little Monsters. She instructs them to get their "paws up" -- a battle cry to support her and her causes. Yes, Lady Gaga is political. She could very well be the left's answer to Palin. The Gaga, as she is sometimes known as, is educating an entire demographic on gay and lesbian issues, the global AIDS epidemic, immigration, and even the controversial Westboro Baptist Church, which picketed some of her concerts this summer.

At the Monster Ball -- the name of her fantastical costume-heavy world tour -- she often lectures the little monsters on the wrongs of the world. At Arizona's Monster Ball, she spoke out against the state's immigration laws.

The pop goddess regularly appears on major magazine covers (including Vanity Fair's September issue) and garners fashion awards for surreal Dada-inspired endeavors, such as elevating bubbles to new couture levels. She's nominated for 13 -- a record number -- MTV video music awards. (Take that, Madonna.)

She influences her fans to be individuals through dance songs. A teenager I know attended her St. Louis concert in July. He said it was life-changing. Since all sorts of things, minor and major, seem to earn this designation from teenagers, I asked how.

"I came out of the closet to my mom," he said.

Whoa! Okay, that's on a level well above changing hair color or piercing a body part.

(Note: Lady Gaga, despite internet rumors, is not a drag queen. She simply has many who worship her, and her hyper-creative get-ups are clearly inspired by them. Thanks to drag queens' love for her, her music and fashion will forever be immortal in drag shows and gay clubs around the world. Just ask Cher.)

If you grew up in the music video age, it would be easy to compare Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefanie Joanne Angelina Germanotta, to Madonna, who had already recorded "Like a Virgin" by the time Gaga was born. Don't bother. You will only end up getting mad when teens start explaining the differences. Madonna never bit a bloody heart and then bathed in "blood" from a fountain. Madonna wasn't influenced by glam rockers KISS. Madonna wasn't a musician. (Sure, she strummed the guitar but Lady Gaga writes her songs and is an accomplished pianist.) If you must throw back to the 1980s, think more Cyndi Lauper, whom Lady Gaga has aligned with to promote HIV and AIDS awareness among women.

Lady Gaga took her name from the Queen song "Radio Ga Ga," but she's become a video empress. Her most popular video, "Bad Romance," has captured nearly 267 million views on YouTube. She has sold 13 million records and 51 million singles. Her fans span the globe, going to great lengths to re-create her costumes, wigs and googly-eye look.

She even has just one degree of separation between herself and the White house. Gaga's video "Telephone" also features Beyonce Knowles, who sung the Etta James' classic "At Last" during Michelle and Barack's Obama's first dance as first lady and president.

Parents, don't be afraid of Lady Gaga. Sure, her videos are both sexual and religious in nature and often depict murder and prison, but so does reality TV. She shoots sparks from her bra and she plays a flaming piano. Her latest video, "Alejandro," features the singer in a latex nun costume. (Remember: Madonna, too, took on the Catholic Church, and it lashed back.)

Lady Gaga pushes buttons beautifully -- just like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and even Keith Olbermann.

For all the sex in her videos, she advocates celibacy (though she confesses to having sex). "I remember the cool girls when I was growing up," she said in one interview. "Everyone started to have sex. But it's not really cool any more to have sex all the time. It's cooler to be strong and independent."

It definitely is, Lady Gaga. This 21st-century role model treads in Madonna's former controversial waters, but seldom, if ever, did Madge speak about celibacy and being choosy. The final lesson of the parental Gaga primer might just be one of the oldest lessons of all, one that your kids are learning -- even though you can't get past the visuals: Don't judge this Mama Monster by her cover.
Filed Under: Woman Up, Culture

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8 Comments

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AmericanPsycho

It's kind of humorous how this article describes Lady Gaga as a sort of cult leader who has political clout. It's pretty common knowledge by now that Lady Gaga is heavily involved in gay rights issues as well as HIV awareness. Celebrities are involved in all sorts of things, with varying degrees of success. However, the fact that Lady Gaga of all people has more credibility than Sarah Palin... I can't decide if that's awesome or terrifying.

August 29 2010 at 3:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rcwaechter

"Lady Gaga lectures the little monsters about the wrongs in the world...for example she lectured them about the Arizona immiagration laws...." You assume the law is wrong because....it is opposite your political view. The court system will sort out whether or not it is wrong. Lady Gaga can have her OPINION, like you, like me. I don't think I would leave it up to her to 'lecture' my children. Frankly, I'm pretty tired of commentators, actors, singers, many of them who make millions of dollars every year, advising us about the 'evil' rich. Michael Moore, Lady Gaga, could follow Sean Penn. I don't always agree with the guy's politics, but he stepped up and put his life in front of his mouth. I don't know why having the ability to twixt or tweet suddenly makes someone knowledgeable about anything other than singing, looking goofy, and making a lot of money. On those things, she's probably an expert.

August 27 2010 at 8:07 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
vivralafrance

Go GAGA in 2016

August 27 2010 at 5:55 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
MyraDomingue

Madonna never bit a bloody heart and then bathed in "blood" from a fountain. What is wrong with that picture? Oh I guess it's a normal thing these days. What a wonderful role model for kids. I can't wait to see the next generation of little monsters!

August 26 2010 at 10:42 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
Josh

Madonna spoke about equality and AIDS awarness in the 80's and 90's when it really mattered. She always spoke out for the little guy and spread her message of empowerment and equality to the masses through her music. Her legacy is unrivaled by ANY female singer. GaGa wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for Madonna and she's just recycling The Pop Queens old ideas.

August 26 2010 at 7:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
momprayn

"Parents, don't be afraid of Lady Gaga. Sure, her videos are both sexual and religious in nature and often depict murder and prison, but so does reality TV." Ah.....what wise, wholesome, uplifting advice. I'm glad I didn't take it while raising my five children....who all grew up to be very happy, responsible, giving, balanced adults married to same who love "God and country".

August 26 2010 at 7:39 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
WyldWun

It's truly a sad commentary on how a lot of people have fallen down the rabbit hole when they are actually interested in someone who refers to themself as "GAGA" (when I was growing up only infants used that word) or "MaMa Grizzly" and then goes out and those MaMas for the fun of it and leaves their cubs orphaned. What in the world ever happened to intelligent people? Have they all been banned from politics and/or even making intellgent conversation about politics? No wonder we are in such a mess in this country.

August 26 2010 at 6:23 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
bpdarling

YOU GO GIRL! Just like Palin says, let's RELOAD...and take this country back from the radical Palinites and fringe tea party republicans who are TRYING (rather unsuccessfully) to HIJACK this country!! GAGA can run against Palin, and we ALL know who will win that one, hands down. Palin is toast already but up against a REAL Monster, Palin is just another fish that has spawned one too many times.

August 26 2010 at 6:07 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
stimarth

Whar can I say, she is the Queen of the left..........need I say more

August 26 2010 at 5:47 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to stimarth's comment
Kenneth

Ok You came up with the same conclusion as I did. I am still trying to find the purpose of this story and what does it have to do with Politics daily? It does not even who or what she really supports other then her personal attitude toward certain issues in this country.

August 26 2010 at 6:02 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
pgbrooke

To Kenneth: Gaga's opinions on current issues are every bit as relevant as Palin's; maybe more so, given the disparity in followers. For every article covering Mrs. Palin's latest tweet, for every Palin endorsement, let's hear Gaga's opinion to keep it balanced.

August 26 2010 at 7:26 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

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