Malaysia garbles Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way' lyrics
The Lady Gaga song "Born This Way" was born one way in the U.S., but apparently that baby was too ugly for Malaysian radio. Broadcasters in that country have chosen to electronically garble the part of the tune that says, "No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered life, I'm on the right track, baby."
One broadcaster said they are being cautious regarding Lady Gaga's lyrics, which promote racial and sexual tolerance, because of government restrictions against airing material that might go against "good taste or decency or [are] offensive to public feeling."
But not all in the public agree: "Lady Gaga was attempting to address this very thing in her song. How dare they play that song and cut out its shining heart," said gay-rights activist Pang Khee Teik, co-founder of Sexuality Independence, a Malaysian anti-discrimination arts movement. "We just want the same thing as everyone else: to love, be loved and have our songs played on the radio."
"The point, with 'Born This Way,' is to fight for something that not everyone believes in. To overcome adversity with a message," the singer said last week on Twitter, in a message not connected to the Malaysian edits. "Ah! Such exciting news!," she noted Monday. "BORN THIS WAY IS #1 FOR THE 5TH WEEK IN A ROW ON BILLBOARD. This is our biggest hit ever monsters! You are amazing!
For the commenters who are already typing in, "Whatever happened to freedom of speech?!" the Ministry offers a reminder that the concept is from the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- not currently in use in Muslim-majority Malaysia -- and that even in the U.S., broadcasters bleep out certain lyrics for the sake of delicate public ears (and to avoid fines from the FCC). And we don't post cuss words. (Now go ahead! It's America, so you are still free to comment, "Whatever happened to freedom of speech?!")
"The particular lyrics in 'Born This Way' may be considered as offensive when viewed against Malaysia's social and religious observances," AMP Radio Networks, the nation's largest private radio operator, said in a statement to the Associated Press. "The issue of being gay, lesbian or [bisexual] is still considered as a 'taboo' by general Malaysians."
Malaysia has in the past banned a few Kylie Minogue music videos, and Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas covered up more than usual for a 2009 show there, the Wall Street Journal noted, adding that Beyonce was also asked to tone down her show for a 2009 date that was later postponed.
In Malaysia, breaking the broadcast-decency rules can draw a fine of up to 50,000 ringgit, a sum we don't particularly want to convert into dollars right now because "ringgit" is a pretty awesome word. (Just kidding -- it's about $16,000.)
File this one under "Isn't It Ironic"?
-- Christie D'Zurilla
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Photo: Lady Gaga performs "Born This Way" at the 53rd Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 13. Credit: Lucy Nicholson / Reuters