Friday, February 25, 2011

Born this way?

Before I really get into this post I just want preface this with proclaiming my love for music, all kinds of music. Also, I have a great amount of respect for musicians, for their and the energy they put in to create it. That said, I want to discuss Lady Gaga’s “gay anthem” Born This Way which she ALONE wrote. First off, it’s a lovely song to dance to. You get into it at the club, I mean really that beat…yeah, you don’t resist that. However! It’s the lyrics I have a problem with.

To begin, there’s Lady Gaga’s obvious language fail that’s been pointed out by countless bloggers and reporters and Facebook friends but I would like to reiterate. In the bridge of her song she’s giving shout outs to I’m not really sure who….Ethnicities? Races? Crayons? Stereotypes? “No matter black, white, beige; Chola or Orient made” Now I can’t speak for everyone but! I personally don’t fall into any of those colors, races, or stereotypes. But I do find it offensive. The words are written from a place of privilege. Take “Orient made” for instance. The term Oriental, which is outdated now, was coined by Western Civilization as category for everyone in the East. It’s seriously a direction on a compass, the needle is “orient”-ed in a certain direction and that direction happened to be East. People who are from Asia didn’t/don’t identify as Oriental that’s something the West labeled them as.

My biggest qualm comes from the title of the song/lyrics “cause God makes no mistakes; I’m on the right track baby; I was born this way” and more of her shout outs to “no matter gay, straight, or bi; lesbian, transgendered life”. So just a heads up but this a pet peeve, almost as much of a pet peeve as when people start a discussion concerning some aspect of queer life with “I’m not gay but...”. Transgender-ed is not a word. It’s not something that happened to a person that you can now talk about in the past tense. Lesbians didn’t have a moment where they were once lesbian and now they are lesbian-ed….that sounds ridiculous. Do me a favor and drop the –ed, just transgender. That’s okay Gaga, you’re learning. Taking those lyrics a bit farther and thinking about them in the perspective of this song as a “gay anthem”, meaning all inclusive, I think there are some people who get left out…specifically the transgender community. Since the song makes this assumption that the target audience of this song believes in God I’m going to stick with that. To my understanding, many trans folk feel like they were born in the wrong body. I’ve also heard the idea that God made a mistake and made them the wrong sex. I’ve even heard it called ‘a bad joke nature played on them’. So if that’s how a portion of the trans community feels then Lady Gaga’s “gay anthem” is telling them their wrong “cause God makes no mistakes…[you] were born this way”.

One more thing, and this is just a personal comment, you don’t write a “gay anthem”; your song becomes a “gay anthem”. The community relates with your song, you don’t force your song onto a diverse community of people because not everyone will relate and your “gay anthem” becomes just a “gay boy anthem” or “femme lesbian anthem”…that’s not uniting the community…that’s dividing us further. Here are some alternative “gay anthems” that were claimed by the queer community, have a listen and go dance.

Diana Ross - I'm Coming Out (1980)

Cyndi Lauper - True Colors (1986)

Robyn - Dancing On My Own (2010)

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