“Art should disturb the comfortable, and comfort the disturbed.” – Lady Gaga
What Music Do You Listen To That ISN’T Lady Gaga?
They’re Really Not That Different
Because I idolize a pop musician, people make certain, stereotypical assumptions about me – that I have a Justin Bieber poster on my wall (I can’t stand him), that I don’t know what a Beethoven is (I quite like Tchaikovsky), that the most hardcore song I can stomach is “Just Dance” (do you casually listen to Eminem’s “Kim,” just because it’s stuck in your head? No? You’re dismissed).
But, all-over-the-place taste in music aside, the above subhead says that Manson and Gaga are actually rather similar, and it’s true: they both go by their stage names; their names both call to mind outrageous, over-the-top, larger-than-life antics; they’re both all about art and individuality and popular American culture.
From the perspective of a journalist, especially an entertainment journalist, Marilyn Manson is a prophet. His name, a cross between “Marilyn Monroe” and “Charles Manson,” is a brilliant comment on how our media makes as much of a celebrity out of Charles Manson as it does Marilyn Monroe. I model my journalistic ethics largely after his musings. For example, in the first post for this class blog I run about mental health news, I refer to the Arapahoe and Columbine tragedies by the names of the victims rather than by the names of the perpetrators (click here).
Click here to read his genius essay on Columbine, and the role that entertainment plays in violence (it doesn’t). The news media, however, is very powerful, and he inspires me to be a force for good in my career.
“Good,” though, isn’t always going to be “glamorous,” and I think that’s why a lot of people are so dismissive of Lady Gaga. They want her to walk down the red carpet wearing a designer dress, smile silently and wave politely, and sing a song about how much better her life is than yours. It’s so much easier to label Marilyn Manson a “freak” than it is to listen to what he has to say – and, sometimes, the world gets so crazy, that the craziest people are the most sane.
At least they're honest about it.
My goal is to challenge artists to produce meaningful work, not just to make whatever’s the most profitable. I won’t ask, “Who are you wearing?” I’ll ask, “What does it mean?” Art isn’t supposed to tell you what to do – all you have to do is be white, heterosexual, cisgender, American, Christian, rich, athletic, and able-bodied, and you’ll be happy! Art is meant to let you know that it’s okay to not be okay – that it’s okay to reject your religious upbringing, to not look like Channing Tatum or Angelina Jolie, to be gay, to be trans, to identify with another culture, to have no money but still act like a superstar, to be disabled and demand acceptance over pity. You don’t have to listen to the people who tell you otherwise – just listen to some music instead.
Thank you for reading. If you are the next Marilyn Manson or Lady Gaga, then what are you waiting for? We need more of you!
Paws up, and go Rams.