silly social movement of the day: the anti-gaga movement

Previous silly social movements…

From CNN. In response to a scheduled Lady Gaga concert in Indonesia:

There has been an outcry against Lady Gaga performing among Islamists and conservative Muslims, who say her revealing costumes and sensual dance moves are “haram,” an Arabic term that means “forbidden by Islamic law.”

The chairman of the Islamic Defenders Front, Habib Rizieq, said his group could not guarantee what might happen, as far as security goes, if the concert were held.

The pop star was given a thumbs-down in March by a “high-ranking member” of the country’s highest Islamic authority, according to The Jakarta Globe.

The report said that Indonesian Council of Ulema chairman Cholil Ridwan was urging Muslims not to attend the overtly sexy and controversial singer’s upcoming concert in Jakarta.

“[The concert is] intended to destroy the nation’s morality,” Ridwan told the Globe.

Turns out that anti-Gagismo is a transantional movement with branches in Korea:

Yoon Jung-hoon, a reverend who helped organize the “Civilians Network against the Lady Gaga Concert” movement, told the Chicago Tribune that his group collected 5,000 supporters on Facebook. He also advocated a boycott of the show’s sponsor, Hyundai Card, in addition to Hyundai Motor Co., Korea’s largest automaker.

The dynamics of Gagention?

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Written by fabiorojas

May 19, 2012 at 12:04 am

5 Responses

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  1. […] silly social movement of the day: the anti-gaga movement ( […]


  2. For the interested: religiously conservative groups do mobilize their constituencies by creating moral panics around pop music. The Philippines has hosted protests against Gaga and others…though there Catholics form the protest bloc, and we’ve had our share in the U.S.–against Elvis, disco, Madonna, heavy metal and rap.

    For Fabio: I’m not sure why you consider these “silly” social movements. The core issues and the groups on either side of these contests are familiar players in global or regional politics. And I’d grant that Gaga verges on the intentionally ridiculous, but I’ve never seen her be silly.


    Jenn Lena

    May 19, 2012 at 9:57 pm

  3. Allow me to jump in ahead of Prof. Rojas. On the one hand, the point about handwringing is well made. My choice to major in criminology after 35 years in computering was motivated in part by the rather obvious perception that every society and culture has basic problems. Fundamentalist Muslim clerics and their Fundamentalist Protestant counterparts have enough real worries like murder, rape, and theft, to say nothing of elder abuse, drug addiction, and pervasive anomie, without making a spectacle of a spectacle. Absent the glitter, what does Lady Gaga have? A nice voice? Dime a dozen…

    But your questions do cut to the core, Prof. Lena. Lady Gaga’s iconic song, “Born this Way” is an open threat to those who view sin as choice and choice as the original sin. They need that as their raison d’etre. They cannot let other people just be whatever they are and take it or leave it at that. Other people must change.

    Your own work in music and politics sheds a harsh light. But perhaps that erases some necessary shadows. Disco was disfavored by others in pop music. On “WKRP in Cincinnati” Johnny Fever called it “syntho droid music.” The same might be said for heavy metal, but I am unaware of any organized protest against it. Being 62, I do remember the angst over Elvis and then the Beatles. The high point was John Lennon’s careless statement (misread and misheard), “We’re more popular than Jesus.” That led to record burnings. But, really, by the time acid rock and “underground” radio came along, the grown-ups were in retreat and critics were just ignored. Rap re-opened the dialog. It is violent, misogynist, ignorant, limited and limiting.

    In a grad seminar in crim theory we had to read that Rap is protest against power, the voice of the urban young man… blah, blah, blah… So, I asked about heavy metal and the nazi youth who listen to Queensryche and Iron Maiden and such. Are they not marginalized and oppressed by the international Jewish capitalists and globalists? If you think being Black keeps you from a job, show up with a swastika tattoo: white culture is under attack and heavy metal is how they speak of it. Oh… not valid…? why not?….

    To me, both Blackness and Whiteness are wrong. Their music only evidences the fact that every culture has all the attributes of culture: music, art, tools and tool-making, language, rites of passage, clothing, dance, you name it. But having such attributes neither validates those or their cultures.



    May 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm

  4. For the record, the anti-Gaga protests in Indonesia are indeed part of a longstanding attempt by extremist Muslims to implement a more morally conservative state and society. Indonesia has historically been somewhat more tolerant of homosexuality and of “Western” lifestyles than many other majority Muslim countries. But with the ongoing moral panic about pornography (which resulted in the passing of very strict anti-pornography legislation in 2008), groups like FPI have been empowered to drum up homophobia and intolerance. However, it should be noted that all 50,000 concert tickets sold out very quickly — clearly FPI sees a threat here. Similar issues have occurred in the Philippines, where conservative Catholics have also mobilized to oppose Gaga’s concerts. Yes, from our perspective it’s silly to protest pop concerts, but this event is just a flashpoint for continuing religious/social conservative mobilization.



    May 20, 2012 at 10:38 pm

  5. The demise of Indonesia’s tolerance and democracy will not be the result of the FPI. It will be the result of the weakness, by that I mean specific and identifiable vulnerability not a general lassitude, in the Javanese ethic. Social harmony is the overriding value and the way to achieve this is through “musyawarah untuk mufakat” which is generally translated as “deliberation to reach a consensus”. (Musyawarah is not just a common parlance, a habit, it is enshrined in various laws where it is to be promoted and enforced by government agencies.) Hence Lady Gaga is rejected as a foreign influence that disturbs social harmony. Police officials (the vast majority) do not support the FPI. They want calm. This is also true of the church construction protests in Bogor, where SBY, the president, despite a Supreme Court ruling that the church building permit is legal and must be enforced, refuses to get the national police (there is only an national police) to enforce the law. It is a local problem that should be resolve though musyawarah. The same is true of the conflicts between Sunni and Shia factions in Madura and East Java. Etc., etc.etc. The problem is that the focus on harmony that Javanese ethics demands, expressed in musyawarah untuk mufakat, is not about consensus, it is about consent. When, in a traditional musyawara, a party is not satisfied, everyone knows it and everyone knows that when the “consensus” decision is achieved, there is a debt owed. The aggrieved party, who has agreed against his own judgement, will behave “as if”, “ethok-ethok”, and consensus is presented to the community, and harmonious relations will continue. This works great as long as everyone abides by the ethic and recognizes their debts. But, as we know, in arms length transactions when I get mine and you have not yet gotten yours my motivation to abide by the agreement is weak, nonexistent. Hence the Indonesians (the Javanese are 40+ % of the population, best educated, and dominate the economy and government) are hapless when faced by extremist groups. The result is compromise, gradually, to the extreme. Radical groups extract concession after concession, where will it end?
    I don’t know. Extremist Islam has been in Indonesia for a very long time, long before the Saudis started dropping their money and promoting its tribal version. I have lived here off an on for 30 years and it worries me. These protests are neither stupid nor silly. Popular culture is one of the battlefields that will determine Indonesia’s future.



    June 1, 2012 at 7:37 pm

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