Catholic World Report's Matthew Cullinan Hoffman article Lady Gaga Gets the Indonesian Boot (June 1, 2012) provides and excellent analysis of the Lady Gaga controversy in Asia.
Lady Gaga should hardly be surprised at the reaction of Asian Christians and Muslims to her on-stage antics, which she has repeatedly acknowledged are calculated to generate controversy, and which serve her economic interests as a publicity-seeking entertainer. Americans, however, have apparently become so jaded and desensitized to the routine obscenity of such “pop artists” that we can no longer comprehend the reaction of ordinary people in countries that are still imbued with the values of religious piety, a sense of the sacred, and a visceral desire to protect their children from unhealthy influences.
Generations of American parents have blithely surrendered their children to the tender mercies of industries that openly profit by corrupting their morals, selling them a hedonistic and degraded understanding of human sexuality at the most vulnerable moment in their psychosexual development. Our cultural “race to the bottom” is justified by a libertarian ideology that deifies individual freedom at the expense of public morals, a concept that has almost disappeared from American jurisprudence. The resulting ethos is reflected in almost every manifestation of mass media, from movies and television to music, video games, and the Internet. Americans have been breathing this poisoned atmosphere for so long that they have become almost incapable of moral outrage, and are unable to interpret such indignation when it manifests itself abroad.
The true issue raised by the Gaga affair in Southeast Asia is not one of religious extremism or the sanctity of freedom of speech, themes often used by Americans to explain away the recalcitrance of foreigners in the face of our cultural exports. It is, rather, our own moral and spiritual decline, which has created a gulf between ourselves and peoples who continue to maintain the values we have abandoned, values that are essential to the health of any society.
The first step toward a solution is to recognize the problem. Mr. Hoffman succeeds here.