Support the Café

Search our Site

Lady Gaga: Kierkegaard in fishnet stockings

Lady Gaga: Kierkegaard in fishnet stockings

“Lady Gaga is a Kierkegaard in fishnet stockings, who can play piano and guitar,” according to Rodney Clapp writing in The Christian Century.

Stefani Germanotta was an awkward teenager, at least as she remembers it. Her peers bullied her for being ugly, for having a big nose and giant eyebrows. They teased her for her laugh, for her love of theater, for her penchant for constantly sing ing, for the way she wore her makeup. They made fun of her tan and her hairdo. “I used to be called a slut, be called this, be called that. I didn’t even want to go to school sometimes,” she says.

Despite the stratospheric levels of her success, she hasn’t forgotten being a misfit. “It wasn’t until I put my music out into the world that I was able to look into myself and honor my own misfit and honor the reality of how I was treated when I was a kid, not by my family, but by my peers in school, and how it affected me.”

Consequently, Lady Gaga’s message to her devoted fans is that it is all right for them to be “little monsters.” Others may regard them as too fat or too skinny, or harass them because they are gay or otherwise different. But as their Mother Monster, she reminds them that they have real worth. In concerts she tells them she was (and is) a misfit, but look at her now. She promises them that they, too, may one day stand on a stage at Madison Square Garden and soak in lapping waves of applause. She shares her fame and herself with them—Lady Gaga is always “on” for her public—and regards her fans as “at least 50 percent, if not more,” of her person.

In turn her fans not only adore her but begin to re spect themselves. A 15-year-old boy writes representatively, “I am an extremely devoted little monster, and I’ll be a little monster for life. . . . At every concert you’ve said that you want to liberate us, and that is what you’ve done. Your songs have taught me not to listen to haters and be who I am, because, baby, I was born this way!”

Kierkegaard was at pains to defeat all prettification and accommodation of the gospel, to remind those who would call themselves Christian that Jesus when he lived on this earth was widely despised and rejected, treated like a monster. And if that Jesus is the Jesus who calls us to be like him, even to be a part of his body, then Christians are the original little monsters. Lady Gaga is playing a variation on an old song.

Addendum 7.20.2001Gaga and Bono – Congregation Resource Guide.


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jim Naughton

And a song called Dread and the Fugitive Mind, by Megadeath. The ringtone, which I know that you all will want, is here:

Jim Naughton

There actually is a song called Sickness Unto Death by a band named Typhoon, about whom I know nothing.

rick allen

Whatever the merits of LG’s music or message, it seems rather absurd to compare her to Kierkegaard. It is significant, I suppose, that the source article never bothers to quote the man, especially since his sense of the demands of the gospel made even marriage questionable.

Far from celebrating his (very few)readers as being fine as they were, he challenged their easy acceptance of the status quo, and he bitterly condemned a church establishment more concerned to bless the good life than to preach the rigors of the way of the cross.

It will be a while, I think, before any pop artist presents us with an album entited “The Concept of Dread,” or announces the “Sickness Unto Death 2012 World Tour.”


Benedict Varnum, I agree!

Benedict Varnum

With regard to the points raised by Ttolerton, I’d point out that the comparison is to Kierkegaard, not Christ, and that there’s good theological precedent that part of what God wants from/for us is to be our FULL selves, in relationship to one another and God. That’s significantly different from saying “Do whatever you want,” and I don’t find it at all a stretch to say that discerning in ourselves between the desires of “the world” and more Godly desires is part of our task in life.

I hear Gaga’s “Born this way” song as a corrective to false self-loathing (not self-denial) that is pushed on [especially young and especially LGBTQ] people by cultural pressures around them. Resisting messages that don’t respect the dignity of every human being also strikes me as theologically sound.

What do we make of “Love thy neighbor as thyself”? Is the point to transfer a false self-love back to its appropriate object: our neighbor? Or are we called to love ourselves in the process as well? Being a Christian may not “be easy,” but it is a yoke that many of us find light, by the grace of God. Lady Gaga may be surprised when Jesus thanks her for feeding him when he was hungry, but good for her if she’s giving some care to those who have been used to feeling like the least among us.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café