This is a copy of a letter published in The Nation newspaper (Thailand), May 25, 2012. Also available online from the newspaper.
Please cite as: Deflem, Mathieu. 2012. "Lady Gaga Preaches Tolerance and Respect". Letter to the Editor. The Nation (Thailand), May 25, 2012.
The forthcoming concert by Lady Gaga at Rajamangala National Stadium, her first in Thailand, may not only be a celebration of music and dance, but can serve the broader and deeper purpose of showing harmony in a contemporary world that occasionally grapples with tolerance.
Sadly, a few Lady Gaga concerts have recently been abused, contrary to the deals of peaceful co-existence, with an age-restricted ban being placed on her show in Seoul, and her forthcoming sold-out show in Jakarta as yet undecided. In view of such conflicts, it may be useful to remain clear about the truth of Lady Gaga, rather than be the victim of certain myths that are occasionally constructed about her.
Having both participated in the Lady Gaga fan community for a number of years and also having academically researched the phenomenon of the fame of Lady Gaga, I can only be struck by the enormous positive power that is generated by the artist. Devoting special attention to the disenfranchised and the powerless, Lady Gaga has created a sense of community that is explicitly inclusive of others, no matter their backgrounds. Her fans generally display nothing but generosity and kindness towards one another and others.
Additionally, while Lady Gaga has been the subject of some controversy over her use of religious iconography, she has also been praised by members of the religious community for her embrace of others, her sense of spirituality, and her generosity towards those who suffer. Such themes are, in fact, distinctly religious values.
If anything definite can be said, it is that Lady Gaga is a positive role model for many people and she has influenced her fans to practice lifestyles that are wholly congruent with their spirituality and religious values. Her concert in the capital of Thailand may therefore serve to highlight the country's embrace of such values as well.
Columbia, South Carolina
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