Time to get out your GetReligion dancing shoes:
Ohohohoh, I’m in love with Judas
Ohohohoh, I’m in love with Judas
Judas! Judaas Judas! Judaas Judas! Judaas Judas! GAGA
When he comes to me I am ready I’ll wash his feet with my hair if he needs Forgive him when his tongue lies through his brain Even after three times he betrays me
I’ll bring him down, bring him down, down A king with no crown, king with no crown
[Chorus] I’m just a Holy Fool, oh baby he’s so cruel But I’m still in love with Judas, baby I’m just a Holy Fool, oh baby he’s so cruel But I’m still in love with Judas, baby
So goes the first stanza of the pop song "Judas" performed by Lady Gaga, the stage name of New York-born singer/song writer Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. Lady Gaga's work has won her fans round the world, but news reports from her tour of South East Asia indicates she has garnered a few enemies as well.
MTV News (I think this is a first for GetReligion -- linking to an MTV News story) reports:
Lady Gaga has had a rough couple of weeks. What should have been a celebratory kick-off to her "Born This Way Ball" has been marred in controversy, as the pop superstar has encountered protests from religious groups at nearly every turn.
The tour's first show in Seoul, South Korea, was marred by protests from Christian groups saying Mother Monster was "obscene" and could "taint" young people with her performance. The protestors even managed to get the Korea Media Rating Board to elevate the age rating for the concert from 12 to 18, prohibiting minors from seeing the show.
The second leg of the tour, MTV reports, was equally difficult.
She encountered similar troubles in the Philippines, where her May 21 and 22 concerts in Manila were met with similar derision from Christian groups claiming her lyrics are blasphemous and that the sentiment behind songs like "Born this Way" promotes "promiscuity" and homosexuality. A few days before the first concert, anti-riot police were forced to stop hundreds of protestors from descending on the venue. Gaga responded to the hubbub today on Twitter, saying, "And don't worry, if I get thrown in jail in Manila, Beyonce will just bail me out. Sold out night 2 in the Philippines. I love it here!"
A June show in Jakarta may be cancelled in the face of threats from militant Muslims.
"The Jakarta situation is 2-fold: Indonesian authorities demand I censor the show & religious extremist separately, are threatening violence," Gaga tweeted earlier today.
A 17 May 2012 AP story gives further details of the protest in the Philippines. The version printed by the Washington Post began:
Scores of Christian youths in the Philippines chanted “Stop the Lady Gaga concerts” at a rally Friday calling for the pop diva’s shows here to be canceled despite assurances from authorities that they won’t allow nudity and lewd acts.
Christian youths -- and they are exactly what? Paragraph three tells us more about these three score and 10 youths.
About 70 members of a group called Biblemode Youth Philippines rallied in front of the Pasay City Hall in metropolitan Manila. They said they were offended by Lady Gaga’s music and videos, in particular her song “Judas,” which they say mocks Jesus Christ.
And what is Biblemode Youth Philippines? The article does not say. But it later states:
Former Manila Mayor Jose Atienza said the singer and organizers can be punished for offending race or religion. Under the penal code in the conservative, majority Roman Catholic country, the penalty can range from six months to six years in prison, although no one has been convicted recently.
The narrative arc of the MTV story is sympathetic to Lady Gaga -- as one would expect. The AP story adopts a neutral tone, but gives more space in the story to those offended by Lady Gaga's musical act. Again, this is what one would expect as the story from the AP is focused on the protests.
However, I would have hoped the AP story would have gone a bit deeper in its reporting as this appeared to the be the source for MTV's report -- and was the principle vehicle for this story in the American press. The AP story identifies the protestors in Manila as Christians and then as members of Biblemode Youth Philippines. But it stops there -- save for noting the Philippines are a "conservative, majority Roman Catholic country."
It would be natural to assume that these Christian youths are Catholic youths. Catholic youth movements are politically active in the Philippines -- protesting the government's recent contraception bill. But Biblemode Youth Philippines is not on the Catholic Church's Federation of National Youth Organizations' membership list.
A quick check of the group's Facebook page shows that it is not a parish organization that would be below the level of groups in the national Catholic youth federation, but shows the members of Biblemode Youth Philippines are Baptists.
Where members of the "majority" Roman Catholic church among the protestors? Or was this a Protestant affair -- or even a Baptist protest against Lady Gaga?
When saying "Christians are protesting", is it responsible journalism to say what sort of Christians are protesting? I believe so.
There is the issue of precision. But there is also the underlying religious question. What is the significance of a minority Christian group leading the Manila protests against Lady Gaga? Is there silence from the Catholic Church on this issue? If so, why?
Which groups were leading the protests against Lady Gaga in Korea? Is there any link between the protestors in Korea and the Philippines? Does Lady Gaga offend against decency or good taste in an equal degree in the Philippines and Korea?
Are the protestors Westboro Baptist wannabees? Is there a link to the anti-American movement in the Philippines?
What exactly is going on here?
I ask you, GetReligion readers, am I making a mountain out of a molehill, or should we expect precision on this point?