Mail & Guardian

Looking Glass Wars: Lady Gaga, enemy of democracy

03 Dec 2012 14:49 | Chris Roper

Lady Gaga. (Reuters)

Lady Gaga. (Reuters)

It's true! Gaga is worse than a Satanist! She’s also an enemy of democracy who spits on our Constitution, and is possibly the worst threat our fledgling country has faced since that time Steve Hofmeyr punched a dude because someone described his shoes as ugly. Seriously, guys? Because Gaga doesn’t want news photographers to take upskirt shots of her meat dress and no veg, it's a threat to our Constitution?

I groaned when I saw the press release from the South African National Editors' Forum, saying: "Sanef views the decision by the organisers to only make available selected publicity photographs as a form of press censorship fundamentally in conflict with the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of media in South Africa." Aargh! Do we really want to wind up like the United Kingdom, where the paparazzi thrive on the destruction of people's privacy? Are we going to march to demand the right to see Nonhle Thema’s cellulite? (When she eventually gets some, I mean. Please don’t tweet me, Nonhle’s smurfs, I’m sure she’s perfect). We didn’t fight the struggle not to have tits on page three, I can tell you that.

Sanef also argued that "a ban on photographers or interference with journalists would immediately raise public suspicions about the integrity of reports of such events. Should this occur, not only will the newspaper be harmed but so will the attraction of the event." So very true! Without the newspaper writing about the Gaga concert, why, it might as well not exist. Oh sure, perhaps some day, in some glorious, as yet unimagined future, there’ll be some sort of mechanism for ordinary people to report on events, a "social media", if you will. But that time is not yet here.

I mean, I’m just thinking blue sky here, but maybe someday there’ll even be a way for ordinary people to write about events like the Gaga concert and publish it without the benefit of newspapers. Some sort of internationally connected network of personal diaries? Nope, sorry, Gaga doesn’t need the media, she has her fans. As she sings in Paparazzi: "We are the crowd/ We're c-coming out/ Got my flash on it's true/ Need that picture of you/ It's so magical."

Some concerned Christians started a Facebook page to stop Gaga’s tour of South Africa, and I can’t help thinking that Sanef and the "South Africa: No to Lady Gaga and Satanists" page are basically the same thing. Outmoded belief systems reacting with antagonism towards the inevitability of the new world. Sanef still seems to believe that it matters a damn to Gaga whether traditional media covers her concerts, and Christians seem to believe that they can stem the tide of rational secularisation. Although I admit it’s a bit of a stretch to call Gaga's Little Monsters rational or secular.

One of the messages on the "No to Gaga and Satanists" page was, according to City Press,   "... Lady Gaga! Real name Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. She sold her soul to the devil for fame and fortune, suddenly having 8-million followers on Twitter ... This is clearly the devil at work!" I can’t help thinking of old-school newspaper and magazine people having the same reaction. Eight million followers! Without a printing press! She MUST have sold her soul to the devil! Yes, but not at some old crossroads that the print industry has finally come to. She’s way more likely to have sold her soul on eBay.

Follow Chris on Twitter @chrisroper

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