Ashley Baxstrom: Not even a celebrity shout-out is enough to satisfy some.
The Los Angeles Times reported on Monday that Lady Gaga’s latest album Born This Way has been unofficially banned in Lebanon on the grounds that it may be “offensive to religion” in general and Christians in particular. The office of censorship said it had collected CDs and boxes full of the offending albums were reportedly stacked in Beirut police stations, though no formal ban has been announced by the government.
And all this despite the fact that the title single gives the country a shout-out:
Don’t be a drag, just be a queen
Whether you’re broke or evergreen
You’re black, white, beige, chola descent
You’re lebanese, you’re orient
Whether life’s disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
‘Cause baby you were born this way
(Full lyrics here.)
The CD went on sale May 23, selling over 1.11 million albums in its first week. Single tracks have been released individually since February, drawing attention and criticism for their religious and sexual themes. The title track “Born This Way” – the first single released from the album in February – declares, “I’m beautiful in my way ‘cause God makes no mistakes. I’m on the right track baby, I was born this way.” The song became a popular new anthem for the gay community (Elton John told Rolling Stone it was “the new ‘I Will Survive’”), but conservative Christians like Focus on the Family’s “gender and homosexuality analyst” Jeff Johnston don’t share that appreciation for the message. Johnston told the Christian Post the song takes away any hope Christians struggling with their sexuality have about the possibility to reform.
The most recent single has also attracted plenty of Christian feedback. “Judas” describes Gaga’s kind-of-three-way-relationship with Jesus and Judas – “I wanna love you but something’s pulling me away from you. Jesus is my virtue and Judas is the demon I cling to” – and the music video depicts her as a modern-day Mary Magdalene, caught between the two men as leaders of rival biker gangs; one scene shows her washing their feet. The song itself was banned in Lebanon last month (in accordance with Article 75 of the 1962 Lebanese Law for distribution of print media, which states that, “Distributors are prohibited from circulating media that diverges from public decency and morality, or is at odds with nationalistic or religious beliefs.”)
But then again, “as we all know,” Lady Gaga is an agent of the Illuminati – so those Lebanese censors might be smart for making the first move.