TTT: Front Row at Lady Gaga
The world we live in today is filled with an abundance of negativity. Each morning, the headlines preface new tales of discrimination, ignorance, judgment, and close-mindedness. Sadly, the problem lies within all of us. We hold grudges for longer than necessary; we act out irrationally when we feel we haven’t been treated fairly; we wish poorly upon others in moments of anger and spite; we judge others before truly getting to know them. Often times, we choose to only see what we want to see; hear only what we want to hear. We accept beliefs because we are too afraid and naïve to form our own.
That’s just the beginning of it. The negativity we put out into the world is often times only a fraction of the negativity we harbor within ourselves. I speak only from experience on this one. We convince ourselves that we aren’t good enough; we aren’t pretty enough; we aren’t smart enough; we aren’t worthy enough. We compare our lives to the lives of others, certain that we’ve been dealt a worse hand and more unfortunate circumstances. We pick apart our “flaws” and convince ourselves that we are imperfect. Sometimes, it seems nearly impossible not to let this negativity destroy you.
At the end of the day, it takes a brave person to step outside of their comfort zone, stand on their own two feet, go completely against what’s considered “the norm” and speak out for what they truly believe in; especially when the rest of the world chooses to either disagree or remain silent.
This is why I respect Lady Gaga.
Yes, maybe she wears dresses made out of raw cuts of meat and, yes, maybe she spends 78 hours in a “vessel” to prepare for performances and, yes, maybe she bathes in a fountain of blood during her concert and, yes, maybe she has made the executive decision to remove pants from her wardrobe. But, do you know what else she has done? She’s given hope to members of the LCBTQ youth who grew up feeling as if they didn’t belong. She’s helped put a roof over the heads of thousands of young people who’ve been left homeless based on who they are or what they believe in. She’s spoken out and raised awareness about the risk of HIV and AIDS in young men and women. She’s donated over half a million dollars to Haiti to help restore what was so quickly taken away from them. She’s spoken out against the unfair and discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, inviting a group of former service members to accompany her to the Video Music Awards to prove her point.
Beyond her philanthropic success, the message she pours out into the universe is always strong. She teaches us all that it’s okay to be different. She teaches us that it’s not only okay to stand up for other people who are different, it’s our job. She teaches us that being who we want to be is more important than trying to please others. That anyone who tells us that we aren’t good enough or talented enough or smart enough or thin enough simply doesn’t matter. That it’s important to constantly create, even if no one else appreciates or understands your “art.” That the way we perceive ourselves is the only perception that really matters. That it is important to embrace our flaws – the “monsters” in our life – and learn from them.
I’m not saying you have to be a fan of Lady Gaga. In fact, I encourage you to have your own opinion. I’m simply trying to shine light on someone who I feel is often misunderstood. It’s not about the fishnets. It’s not about the caution tape. It’s not about the electric yellow wigs or latex dresses or 12 inch Noritaka Tatehanas. It’s about taking a second look at who you really are and accepting it, no matter what you come to find. Truthfully, The Monster Ball is more than just a concert; it’s a celebration of freedom and individuality. People of different races, ages, sexual orientations, and walks of life all coming together to rejoice over love, music and art – that’s a powerful and positive thing.
What I Learned at The Monster Ball in Atlantic City:
1. When the forecast calls for 55 MPH winds and you are planning on sitting on the boardwalk for 8 hours, prepare for sand to find its way into every crevice of your body.
2. You can never have too much caution tape.
3. No matter how crazy you think you are, there is always someone crazier. Like the girl I overheard in the bathroom say “I just can’t wait to see Mommy!” (Mommy being Gaga, for those out of the loop.)
4. At The Monster Ball, less is more. I’m talking about clothing.
5. Making friends in line is essential. We met the USC professor of the Lady Gaga Course and this was his 29th Monster Ball!
6. No matter how cold it is, it can always be colder.
7. Hearing the first notes of “Dance in the Dark” makes the entire wait worth it.
8. Dancing against the barricade will result in permanent knee bruises. Again, worth it.
9. Though I’ve never done drugs, I can only imagine that seeing Born This Way performed live is something like being high.
10. After not eating for 12 hours, it’s perfectly acceptable to drop $100 on dinner.
After the most incredible weekend ever, it’s back to real life we go. At least it’s Tuesday.
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