Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lady Gaga, The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street: Room for All

I read the other day that Lady Gaga is on her way out because she can't "be herself". The fact is, she has no "self". She is a kaleidoscope of selves--a walking mood disorder—a public display of cultural schizophrenia. Don't get me wrong, she is very entertaining and I love some of her music. She has played a critical and creative role in pop culture. But she is a neon symptom of a culture without a center. 

However, I think it can be argued that Gaga’s purported demise is a symbol of the death of the aimless postmodern American mind----the death of a narcissistic relativity, of "being my-self-obsessed-self," of the value of no values, of trying to make ugliness beautiful and of convincing us that up is down, male is female and that good is evil. Such a world view may serve as a necessary corrective when we get stuck in thoughtless conservative structures, but never works in the long run. Human nature is more fixed and conventional than many of us would like to admit. We crave order and meaning, ultimately.
We want a story with a real hero and a happy ending. Without real law and order we become inhumane animals and depressed victims, incessantly whining about our “rights” while abdicating our responsibilities. The end game of a postmodern attitude is naked chaos--pandemic addiction and political anarchy in the guise of "social justice". Some of the so called "oppressed" occupying Wall Street were secretly wishing they could be living in Penthouses and driving a Lamborghini. For God sake, wake up—the Hollywood “social justice” entertainers ARE living in Penthouses and driving Lamborghinis!  Most of them are hypocrisy personified—bewailing the plight of the oppressed while living like the wealthy hypocritical pigs in Orwell’s Animal Farm. As I shall argue, there is a time and place to occupy Wall Street, but there is also a time and place to seek an occupation on Wall Street. And to be fair, there are some in the Tea Party who would like to force their version of "freedom" on the masses if they could. The Theocratic minority within the Christian church would argue that God demands the death penalty for adultery and homosexuality--and let's not forget gathering wood on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36).

The fact is that human nature is a mixture of conservative wisdom and progressive evolution—requiring both values for a fully embodied humanity. We are each an amalgam of greedy beast and altruistic angel, self obsessed victim and empathetic hero. When a culture focuses on one side alone, the other will emerge with a compensatory vengeance. That is why the first organizers of the new American nation tried to create a Constitution and Bill of Rights that
would allow for both sides of our enigmatically opposed human nature to live in a nerve-racking tension—providing maximum freedom under a system of minimal laws. Their system of checks and balances, when actually followed, can maintain this tenuous condition of the human soul. Jefferson and Madison made room for a free and fair media, and a creative pop culture that could correct the inevitable imbalances of human nature. They knew that we needed both the North and the South, both Little House on the Prairie and Lady GagaLeave It to Beaver and Homer Simpson. They knew there was room for both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street—one side pointing to the greedy corruption of the entire political system, and the other to the endemic corruption of an increasingly greedy economic system. Some of us see the brilliance of both protests—and will not be forced by a polarized media, driven by ratings and money, to choose one side over the other. We will not be bullied by the rhetoric and legislated tyranny being foisted upon us by conservative and progressive politicians, in the forms of dictating whom we can marry or from whom we should purchase our health care. Both sides are using the sledge hammer of laws and regulations to force external changes in a country that has always allowed room for internal transformation through debate and the free and unhindered exchange of ideas and commodities. More and more people are getting fed up with “legislated compassion and enforced social justice” coming from both sides of the political, and religious, aisles.

So, Lady Gaga is a purposeful sign. Those loyal fans who want her to give them a more or
less consistent product are symptomatic of a culture tired of nauseating novelty. Alternative always becomes mainstream--human nature demands consistency as much as it desires novelty. And Lady Gaga may retire in protest so she can go become herself. But you can bet she will take most of her money with her, and I would not be at all surprised if in ten years she will be doing a lounge act in Vegas, or raising a family in the Midwest, hopefully sans any bad romance.