Posted by: Harold Knight | 12/29/2009

In which my grumpy old man turns into a ridiculous and pathetic moralist over Lady Gaga.

That's Entertainment!

I can’t get my writing together this morning.

Lady gaga has my head spinning.

Her music is disgusting.

And it’s frightening.

Kids love it. And she ends “Bad Romance” in bed with a corpse.

This is funny? This is “only entertainment” as a friend said, telling me to “lighten up?” 

[Note: I want to write a serious essay on what I have studied all my life about the human symbolic process (the ability to make and understand symbols as the quintessential human characteristic distinguishing us from, say, apes—or even amoeba). But my hypergraphia can’t sit still that long, so all I can do is rail and sound like some kind of old fart moralist—as old fashioned and non-au courant as I thought my parents were in the 1950s when they wouldn’t let me listen to Elvis. Too bad. What I have to say is, for a change, important, and I can’t discipline myself long enough to write it.] 

Lady Gaga sings, “I want your disease,” meaning I want to be famous and will do anything to make it happen, including getting (symbolic) syphilis or AIDS (being dehumanized by the entertainment business) by prostituting myself for you and allowing you to perpetuate sado/masochistic “revenge” on me? This is entertainment? Entertainment that some “spiritual” people think is “only” entertainment (this is not hypothetical: a “spiritual” friend told me to get over this moralist kick I seem to be on).

It’s OK, it’s entertaining to want a “bad romance?” I had assumed for a long time that we had come, as a society, to a place where we saw sexual abuse as unhealthy, and we try to teach our teen-age girls not to accept abuse. And now not only teenagers but grown men (the friend who told me to “lighten up” is a forty-ish grown man) lap it up? Teen-age girls who watch this trash are supposed to think it’s OK to be stripped naked and perform sexual entertainment for a group of (partially naked) men in a circle? 

And the grotesque anti-spiritual/anti-religious symbolism—Lady Gaga’s not-so-subtle self immolation in front of goats’ heads that can symbolize (my guess is Lady Gaga is savy enough to make such connections) the altar of the occult satanic god Baphomet. Is that the symbolic process you want your teenager (or yourself) to have playing itself out in her (your) mind for the rest of her (your) life? 

That's Entertainment!

Go ahead. Let your thirteen-year-old daughter watch this stuff. She won’t know what it means, but the symbolic process is at work even in thirteen-year-olds’ minds, and those images (whatever harmless meaning you think they have) will be in her unconscious (to say nothing of her conscious) mind forever. When she’s 18 and away from home for the first time, and you find her dancing naked in front of a circle of half-naked fraternity “brothers”—or find your son sitting half naked with a group of those boy/men making her perform for them—just think about this horror. But remember, it’s only entertainment. ** (Oh, I know: that’s old-fashioned grumpy old man talk. She would do lap dancing for frat boys anyway. I would suggest, however, that you do some reading on the current studies of the effects of TV and film images on peoples’ minds. Below is a list of some articles that might be helpful for anyone who wants to understand.)

I want your everything as long as it’s free
I want your ugly, I want your disease
I want your everything as long as it’s free
I want your love, love, love, love

That’s (only) Entertainment!

I want your love and I want your revenge
You and me could write a bad romanc
I want your love and all your lover’s revenge
You and me could write a bad romance


** Johnson, Bruce and Martin Cloonan. Dark Side of the Tune: Popular Music and Violence  (Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series). Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2008.

Reviewed in:
Masterman, Brandon P. “Dark Side of the Tune: Popular Music and Violence.” Notes 66.2 (2009): 282-284.

Jordan, Mark D. “Liturgies Of Repetition: A Preface To The Prologue Of The Baphomet.” Studies in the Literary Imagination 41.2 (2008): 63-82.

Kolenic, Anthony J. “Madness in the Making: Creating and Denying Narratives from Virginia Tech to Gotham City.” Journal of Popular Culture 42.6 (2009): 1023-1039.

Mancini, Susanna. “The Power Of Symbols And Symbols As Power: Secularism And Religion As Guarantors Of Cultural Convergence.” Cardozo Law Review 30.6 (2009): 2629-2668.

Meyers, Erin. “Can You Handle My Truth? Authenticity and the Celebrity Star Image.” Journal of Popular Culture 42.5 (2009): 890-907.

Monter, E. William. “French And Italian Witchcraft.” History Today 30.11 (1980): 31-35.



  1. Carry on being a grumpy old man, if that’s what others call you. I couldn’t agree more.
    It’s important that you stand up and object to this sort of thing and not just passively accept it.
    Oh and I get called old fashioned too, but I don’t mind.



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