Gaga #1 Role Model

Last weekend at my parents workshop most parents were shocked to discover that Lady Gaga was rapidly becoming one of the biggest role models and hero for this young generation.

Many of our Christian kids are confused. One moment they see her stripping down to a g-string and dancing seductively in her music videos, and the next minute, she’s thanking God and raising money for homeless, or more recently, the people of Japan.

Pay attention. Gaga is playing it smart in her marketing of herself. She’s giving kids everything they want, plenty of eye candy, permission to be risque’ (indulge in every desire you feel, after all, you were born this way), and then wraps it up in a pretty “I care for this world” package.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Gaga is a fake do-gooder. I think she truly is looking for something more in her life, and it feels good to help others. Gaga has given away premium concert tickets to people who volunteer at least 8 hours helping LGBT youth, and recently, she raised literally millions for Japan relief. Gaga was one of the first to jump on the “Help Japan” wagon. She immediately created a place on her site where people could buy wristband with profits helping Japan… efforts that were extremely successful.

I was pleased to see that the Christian community responded to these efforts as well. YFC international urged people to help Japan, and even local churches like Bayside in the Sacramento area helped Japan, raising $170,000 for relief efforts.

But when it comes to “do-gooders,” it’s Gaga who tops the list in many young people’s minds. DoSomething.org, a charity organization for teens and social change, took a poll of the top celebs who used their celebrity powers for the most good. They named Gaga the #1 key influencer, beating out Taylor Swift, Ellen, Justin Bieber… even Oprah.

Two month ago I taught a workshop where I spent some time talking to young leaders about today’s youth culture. In my presentation I talked a little about Gaga and what she was teaching young people, specifically the sexualization of our young girls. Afterward my workshop, a student leader, 17-years-old, came up to me and said, “Gaga’s not bad you know. She actually prays and helps homeless people.”

Well there we have it.

This was a kid that was one of the spiritual leaders of her group.

What would your kids say about Gaga? Does helping Japan trump promiscuity and irresponsibility? Maybe it’s a conversation worth having.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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3 Responses to Gaga #1 Role Model

  1. Adam McLane says:

    Clearly, there is something deeply embedded in the DNA of this generation that is drawn to action as opposed to talking about social action.

    Whether it’s Katy Perry or Lady Gaga or the Pope or Seseme Street. Students are going to look up to people whose first agenda is social action. And students also seem to have a great ability to know if you are authentically doing it or if it is done for self-promotion. (That’s why they laugh at Charlie Sheen but get inspired by Gaga, IMO)

    For me, it’s a question of… “If I am going to lead students, what action and I going to call them to?”

  2. Another great insight Jonathan. Thanks.

    I think there are actually 2 things at work here. Like Adam said in his comments, students are drawn to social action. But I also think students (and probably you could expand this to the entire millennial generation) have an amazing ability to compartmentalize everything … which means that to them Lady Gaga’s “personal choices” are unrelated to her social activism.

    I think that’s the implied message in the words from the 17 year old student leader you talked to … she (Gaga) may sing or say something I don’t agree with; but her “good works” trump that.

    Smart marketing indeed – she definitely knows her audience.

  3. Tracey says:

    I thought about this for awhile after you posted it. I think in the case of the youth leader, I am seeing Christian kids NOT understand the reality of the sinful choices made by celebrities. They seem to be able to seperate their lifestyles and their good works, but indeed, you cannot! This is just the same dilema for teenagers as the dilema for adults with Bill Clinton. Is what he did in the White House just his personal business, and we shouldn’t care as long as he is a good president? Not for me. A person so much in the public eye has a responsibility to act decent. And they don’t understand the real marketing of the “persona.” Lady Gaga is a persona, no matter what she does for people and as long as she dresses up and hides behind her costumes, she will be a product. Im afraid we aren’t doing a very good job of getting kids to understand the true marketing of celebs. First, follow Jesus, and then be obedient to Him, live your life like HE says we should, not how Lady Gaga or Katy Perry or MTV says you should.