Indonesia Gags Gaga, Media Mostly Silent

Indonesia Gags Gaga, Media Mostly Silent

I wanted to write an article on the lack of outrage at the silencing of Lady Gaga in Indonesia because I consider myself a true feminist and, while I’m not a Lady Gaga fan, I value freedom of speech.

But as I did my research I discovered a hateful little secret – the press seems covertly happy about the situation. Why, I wondered?

Gaga had reportedly been in talks with promoters and local Indonesian authorities about modifying her show, perhaps even performing without her back-up dancers in order to receive a license to perform. (In South Korea, also a secular country, authorities banned anyone under the age of 18 from attending.)

But while still in discussions with Indonesian lawmakers over demands that she make the show more polite and not vulgar (can you imagine the outcry at such infringements here?) the bullying tactics of angry, threatening Islamists won out.

Outraged Islamic hard-liners threatened violence to both the performer and people in the sold-out 52,000-seat venue, so she cancelled the concert. “My love for Indonesia has only grown,” said Lady Gaga, after the cancellation was made public. That’s all good for her, but where is the outrage over this censorship – over the nature of the censorship — here?

I thought our most precious commodity in this country was freedom of speech, and here we have blatant suppression of artistic expression but not a peep in her support. Then I watched the ABC segment with Elizabeth Vargas and John Schiffin, and voila! The media’s bias against religion exposes a cynical multiple-standard.

Vargas begins saying Gaga cancelled her Jakarta show after “religious authorities there threatened violence over her wild outfits and dance moves.” Note the generalization of Militant Islam into “religious authorities.” She continued, saying that this was just another of the many religious protests in Southeast Asia.

But one of these things is not like the others, because all of the other concerts have gone off without a hitch – all except Jakarta. Why was this time different, forcing the cancellation? Maybe because Islamic threats are more visceral? More credible?

Schiffin then starts his report announcing almost gleefully that, as a result of her career-long “bold defiance of societal norms,” she had “just met her match in Indonesia.” In the report, Schiffin consults Bill Werde of Billboard Magazine (an expert on religious hatred?), who calls the protestors simply a “fringe group of conservatives, just really responding to Gaga’s kind of ah… standard-issue ‘Gaga-ness.’ They kind of think she’s the devil.”

So now the Militant Islamists are “conservatives!” While it’s true that Salim Alatas, the leader of Islamic Defender Front, has called Gaga “the envoy of the devil’s child,” spreading “satanic teaching,” there is no tie between IDS and US conservatives, (except in ABC “News” reports).  Vargas then concluded, “And of course this follows on the heels of protests in South Korea and the Philippines where Christian groups also protested,” her tone actually implying that it was violent Christian conservatives who gagged Gaga. 

Of note, the concerts in South Korea and the Philippines (both predominantly Christian) went off without a hitch, in spite of the peaceful (unthreatening) Christian protesters freely expressing their disapproval of the pop star. But rather than condemn the extremists for censorship, ABC News prefers to blame the Christians by non-existent association.

Lady Gaga tweeted: “There is nothing Holy about hatred.” Clearly, that’s only really true if you live in a non-Islamic society. But as ABC maliciously lumps all religions and conservatives together with the censorious, violent Militant Islamists in Jakarta, they conveniently reinterpret Gaga’s sad expression as a criticism of all religions.

It’s enough to make me gag.


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