Lady Gaga a target of Indonesia, Thailand and Madonna
The American pop export known as Lady Gaga keeps running into trouble as she tours Asia. First, she was pegged as a "devil" by Islamic hardliners in Indonesia, where protests and security concerns forced the cancellation of a June 3 concert. Now, the 26-year-old pop star is causing a ruckus for tweeting that she was going to use her time in Thailand to buy a "fake Rolex."
In the never-ending soap opera that is the life of an international superstar -- one of the globe's few -- Lady Gaga is suddenly pop-culture's safest target. Even Madonna, whose once contentious "Like A Prayer" is today family-friendly halftime show entertainment, is piling it on.
Rehearsal footage surfaced online from Madonna's "MDNA" tour, and it sees Madge mashing up her self-empowerment anthem "Express Yourself" with Lady Gaga's kindred "Born This Way." A sly wink to their thematic and tuneful similarities? Perhaps, yet Madonna and subtlety don't always go hand in hand, and Madonna ends the live rendition with "Hard Candy's" bitter "She's Not Me." Madonna's tour starts Thursday in Tel Aviv, so watch the rehearsal clip on YouTube before it's removed.
When "Born This Way" was released it was the subject of much back and forth between Team Madonna and Team Lady Gaga, a debate that was already tired last February when Lady Gaga was forced to address it on national television. Little on a tour the size of a Madonna or Lady Gaga is off the cuff, and Madonna has already slammed "Born This Way" as "reductive," so working it into "Express Yourself" seems rather petty, an admission that the song isn't harmless but rather an irritant.
The only winner in all this is Lady Gaga. It's Gaga's whose Twitter will be stalked in hopes of a response, and it's Gaga whose U.S. tour in 2013 will have blogs like this one wondering if she'll retaliate. For Lady Gaga is in that magical/infuriating moment where all she has to do is write a harmless Tweet and she's inspiring wire stories.
"I just landed in Bangkok baby!" Gaga posted on May 23. "Ready for 50,000 screaming Thai monsters. I wanna get lost in a lady market and buy fake Rolex."
In less than 140 characters Lady Gaga has practically inspired an international incident. "Lady Gaga is a representative of the U.S. and the U.S. puts pressure on smaller countries to promote the protection of intellectual property," an anonymous member of Thailand's Intellectual Property Department told Reuters.
Yet Lady Gaga isn't likely to apologize. After all, she had no qualms with her album being sold for just 99 cents on Amazon so the issue of piracy doesn't seem like it's a big concern for her. In the end, all of this just distracts from the real reasons to avoid a Lady Gaga concert: most of the songs on "Born This Way." Yet religious fundamentalists likely weren't alluding to the torturous prom-like power ballad that is "You And I" when Lady Gaga was referred to as a messenger of the devil.
-- Todd Martens
Photo: Muslim groups in Indonesia protest Lady Gaga. Credit: Associated Press