When Lady Gaga sang her song about sexual abuse during the Academy Awards show, I couldn’t help calling out to my husband, “Oh look, they actually have rape victims onstage!”
He came to look and smiled appreciatively at the awful showbiz spectacle of rape victims raising their arms triumphantly. Some had written anti-stigma hashtags on themselves like ITS NOT YOUR FAULT.
So I was surprised to read all the praise heaped on this performance, everywhere I looked. “Stunning,” “Powerful,” Brave”!
I may be walking on this ice by using the words “rape victims” instead of “sexual assault survivors.” I guess victim is now considered too victimmy. And rape is too rapey.
Some websites are calling the song a “rape anthem” but others are trying to avoid calling it anything but “empowering”.
Rape is terrible, okay? I have experienced it as a reckless teenager, more than once. I guess I have experienced a lot of bad things. I consider myself more traumatized than the average person.
But I never like to see public displays of self-righteousness. I don’t like seeing victims of some horrible societal ill become a poster child for whatever it is – gay suicide, bullying, fat-shaming, you name it.
Rape, incest, murder, racism, Sharia law, child abuse, hate crimes, it’s all bad. Except for Donald Trump supporters, we all agree.
But these issues are too serious to be cheapened by a Vegas floor show or an Oscars shout-out. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t instinctively recoil from the Hollywoodization of human suffering! I don’t know why everyone doesn’t register disgust when social problems are shrink-wrapped in sanctimonious, self-congratulating sound-bites or hash-tags.
Where are the eating-disorder people, the clitorectomy survivors, the child soldiers of Africa, the middle school sexting suicides? What about the unemployed Veteran amputees? Will they all get their turns for a standing ovation at the Academy awards?
Nothing is too sacred to be fodder for pop commercialism or pious condemnation. Today, celebrities are falling over themselves to confess that they’ve been sexually abused, too. One had to clarify that it was “child abuse” in her case. Let’s hope she wasn’t run out of town for speaking out of turn.
I asked my husband to help me understand the difference between Common and John Legend performing “Glory” at the Oscars last year, and the Lady Gaga performance. “Glory” didn’t piss me off. It was a polemic but it was magnificent!
He answered, “One was good art, and the other was bad art.”
So there’s that, too.