The National Catholic Review

A while back I wrote a piece highlighting the resonance Lady Gaga's message of radical inclusivity has with young people, and what the church might take from that. Now, The Economist compares the remarkable branding success of Lady Gaga and Mother Theresa. From the post:

It is not just that, early in their careers, they traded in long, barely-pronounceable names for catchy short ones: Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu became Mother Teresa, Stefani Germanotta became Lady Gaga. As the two publications argue, both women succeeded by developing simple, clear brands, which coincidentally both identified with outsiders. Mother Teresa ministered to the poor and the sick: people “shunned by everyone”. Lady Gaga describes herself as “a freak, a maverick, a lost soul looking for peers”. She assures her fans that it is OK to be odd. This is a comforting message not only for gays but also for most teenagers.

Hard work helped both women excel. Mother Teresa rose every day at 4.40am for mass. Lady Gaga “will take Christmas Day off—and spend it with her parents—but otherwise she works non-stop.” Brilliant communication helped even more. Mother Teresa was a “PR machine” who, whether talking to a dying leper or a rich donor, “always left her imprint by communicating in a language the other person understood”. Lady Gaga is “one of the first pop stars to have truly built her career through the internet and social media.”

Well worth a read here.

Michael J. O'Loughlin

 

 

    Comments

    david power | 6/9/2011 - 7:06pm
    I have given up on Monty Python.They are no match for Mr Loughlin.The whole problem as I see it is how to integrate monsterism into the catholic ouvre. There is a profoundness to the Gaga argument that has most of the best theological minds in a spin.
    In his primitiveness Aquinas never grappled with making a lie the truth.That was the speciality of Wojtyla!Where does Lady Gaga fit into the catholic tradition??I know that Origen tried to express an openness to the other including those who spoke jive but it never made the grade. I myself have been subsisting on rations of de Chardin for the past five years.
    I suggest that we need a particular place and time with a vision of lady gaga.Get some kids who say that Lady Gaga spoke to them in Times square .Her message was "high heels,high heels ,high heels",But only the children could see them.The Kids ?Leroy,Guadalupe.Yao.
    There must be a connection between the dead sea scrolls and Lady Gaga that we could exploit.Essennes were fairly on the margins right??

    In Gaga ,David       
    Bill Mazzella | 6/9/2011 - 9:32am
    We can learn from Madonna and Lady Gaga or we can saunter into cliches and platonic snobbery. To a Catholic church who has never known how to evangelize blacks, Madonna adopted a black child. http://www.google.com/search?q=madonna+adopted+children&hl=en&prmd=ivns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=-8jwTceZJszq0QGutuSaBA&ved=0CC0QsAQ&biw=1280&bih=935 Likewise with gays Madonna fought for them, as does Gage,  while Catholic bishops pay more attention to stopping gay marriage than helping the poor. Both of these charismatic women spent years in Catholic schools which failed to quell the quest in each of them. The question is surely germane whether the scribes and pharissees are more upset with such women than many others. Is this why Jesus said "The  harlots and publicans will enter heaven before the scribes and pharisees?"
    Beth Cioffoletti | 6/8/2011 - 5:27pm
    P.S.  We are all, each one of us, both angel and monster.
    Beth Cioffoletti | 6/8/2011 - 5:22pm
    I'm not sure if I can, Thomas (#10).

    I probably first heard of non-dualistic thinking from Fr. Richard Rohr O.F.M.  It's about not judging, not criticizing, not putting things into categories of "this is right" and "this is wrong" and organizing the world, salvation and life according to such judgements.  It's about surrender to things as they are and seeing with compassion (as God sees).

    As for the Lady Gaga/Mother Teresa comparison - I don't know that much about Lady Gaga, but from what I've seen I sense that she is an artist and dedicated to what it is that she is expressing.  She is still young.  To me, she is riding an energy that comes, not from a cultivation of ego (or personality), but from a search and reach for authenticity and the daring risk that one must take to follow that search.  That is the root of sanctity.

    The article intrigued me because the marketing people made the connection as well.
    Anonymous | 6/8/2011 - 2:10pm
    I highly suggest watching the Kanye West video that Brett provided the link to, above.

    I went looking for an analysis of the lyrics of this masterpiece and found this one, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2000003/CFDA-Fashion-Awards-2011-Lady-Gaga-The-Edge-Glory-sheer-slips-reveals-chest.html, which discusses that previous reviewers concluded that the video is about the perception by some that Black men are all rapists ("monster") and how vampires, in America, have come to represent "the racial threat posed by negroes" (I'm not making this stuff up).

    The analysis goes on to correct those other reviewers that "monster" in the rap/hip-hop world actually means a great performer, a "beast/monster" of a performer, and that West's video/song is more likely West's response to those who do not like his (or other monsters') work.  

    Like the GaGa-M. Teresa connection, this reviewer apparently sees a Kanye-Jesus connection with this quote summing up West's message:   "He has done things that mainstream looks down on and continue to criticize him for, but let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

    Do these people get paid to write this stuff, or are they all living off trust funds and writing to see who buys-in to their drivel?

    Thomas Rooney | 6/8/2011 - 1:26pm
    @Beth - You're right.  I don't get it.

    They both changed their names.  Check.
    They're both charismatic.  Check.
    They work hard at what they do.  Check.
    They're both women. Check

    Can you help me with the rest, with "getting it"?    I find the cult of personality that has grown around Gaga unsettling, but that's probably just middle-age creeping in.  I guess it's no more unsettling than it was for my parents when they found my first Dead Kennedys album.

    Maybe you could explain the "nondualistic approach" in a bit more detail as it relates to this article which is attempting to find common ground between these women?  I think it is far-fetched at best.  Not trying to be a wiseguy, I'm trying to understand.
    Matthew Pettigrew | 6/8/2011 - 12:27pm
    Beth's four-sentence comment (No. 5) contains more wisdom, more insight, and more tolerance than 98% of the comments on this blog (including my own).
    Beth Cioffoletti | 6/8/2011 - 11:25am
    Too bad you guys don't get it.  You should try a non-dualistic approach.  Ours is not an either/or world, but a both/and one.  Everything belongs.
    RICHARD SMITH | 6/8/2011 - 9:44am
    Absolutely ridiculous.

     
    Thomas Rooney | 6/8/2011 - 9:16am
    Sorry - I'm an open minded guy, but this is a silly comparison.
    Beth Cioffoletti | 6/8/2011 - 8:09am
    I found the article comparing Lady Gaga and Mother Teresa as leadership icons intriguing - "the angel and the monster".

    When I was 25 years old I wrote in my journal: I want the life of a cloistered nun and that of a wayward woman, both in the same life.  Now, at age 60, I'm somewhat amused that at the age of 25 I was able to express this quest for integrity and wholeness.

    Sainthood is not a matter of deciding to be or do "good".  That's ego.  Sainthood is surrendering yourself to be who God has made you to be.  Whatever good may or may not come from that is God's business.  I guarantee you that Mother Teresa could never have become the woman that she did without facing her own sexual energy, and this can lead you into some dark (unknown) territory.  And I guarantee you also, that Lady Gaga could never be who she is without the ascetic discipline and focus of a cloistered nun.

    That wholehearted surrender is where their charisma is coming from, and what these very clever marketing people are tapping into.
    Anonymous | 6/8/2011 - 12:49pm
    This is Godwin's Law in reverse.