Sunday, March 20, 2011

Maybe She Reads My Blog?

So, I'm some fifty million YouTube views behind in my commentary on Sefani Germanotta's "new" single, "Born This Way," but whatever. I have mixed feelings about this piece. On the one hand, it seems like she took a lot of what I wrote in my complaints against her to heart. She's elevated her lyrics to the realms of the sensical, and the music of this new song is a nonpareil effort within her oeuvre. Seriously, it's catchy. I will go so far as to say that I like the music.

But there are some serious and destructive fallacies in this, "the manifesto of mother monster." Let's start with her psychedelic parable about the infinite birth. The mother gives birth to a race free from judgment, which she explicitly labels "good." Then this mother gives birth to "evil." The irony of this dichotomy should be immediately apparent. The "good" race doesn't judge and make assumptions about good and evil. But the foundation of this parable is a strict division between good and evil.

This is a fundamental problem with moral relativists. If there is no absolute truth—no absolute good or evil, then relativists cannot criticize (positively or negatively) any moral stance. If there is no good or evil, labeling things as good or evil isn't good or evil. Relativism is a self-destructive theory. Germanotta's "perfect" race would perish instantly because it would be incapable of judging the evil race as evil. But alas, as we shall see, oversimplification is the thread that holds her piece together.

The next glaring lie in "Born this Way" is contained in the title and even more strikingly in the line from the chorus, "There ain't no other way / Baby I was born this way." This thinking is as untrue as it is suicidal. How can anyone consider subscribing to this ideology without seeing that its ultimate dogma is fatalistic? So people who are born selfish and rude have "no other way?" Should the pedophile and rapist embrace the beauty of their sexuality? We all have flaws which we were born with, which we should be working to overcome. In the end, this is a hopeless anthem—an insidious and deterministic lie. I'm not making claims on whether people choose their sexual orientation per se, but I am saying that central to the human experience is choice, and mankind can choose to be better. 

Also, I take issue with Lady Gaga telling me the virtues of being born a certain way when she herself has undergone this violent transformation into an inhuman icon. She's rejected her own name, that name her mother gave her and called her by when she taught young Stefani all those life lessons about cherishing who you are. Yeah, she doesn't have identity issues.


O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!

Sondern laßt uns angenehmere an stimmen,

und freudenvollere.

This week I just watched a fantastic documentary called In Search of Beethoven, who, I think most people would agree, is a much greater musician than Stefani Germanotta. As I was watching this film, I was struck by how often the musicians, historians and musicologists said, independent of each other, that Beethoven's music was always marked by a signature optimism and a hope for a better humanity.

If Ludwig ever wrote a manifesto, it must have been his 9th symphony, the one where the choir sings, "[Joy's] magic brings together / What fashion has divided. / All men become brothers / Where your wings gently rest." Now, this music was written by a man who lived through a war-torn Europe, and who watched his political heroes turn into blood thirsty dictators. I believe this symphony wasn't written to describe his Europe or his world, but it was written to inspire this world as to what it could become. And this, friend, is why Beethoven and his anthem will endure eternally while Stefani Germanotta will vanish like so much smoke. Art that inspires, lifts, and exalts will always outlast propaganda that seeks only to justify.

I think Stefani believes she's doing the right thing, but I still think she's wrong. Yet I think we both look towards a day when understanding will unite all men as brothers and bring together "what fashion has divided," a day when Beethoven's symphony will no longer be a hopeful prayer but a precise painting of what the world has become.

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