If one is in doubt on whether or not white privilege exists, all they have to do is look at Lady Gaga, her recent performance at the Oscars, and the mainstream media’s response to the performance.
First, it’s important to note that even though she was slightly off-key, the mega-talented Lady Gaga gave an emotional performance of the song “Till It Happens To You” Sunday evening, right after being introduced by Joe Biden as some sort of hero. As with previous performances, Lady Gaga is able to emulate emotion at a level most pop stars could never dream of.
When 50 alleged victims of sexual assault joined her on stage, it could have felt opportunistic (see David Bowie performance), but didn’t. Lady Gaga overdoes everything and for this performance, it worked. However, Gaga’s overdoing of her campaign for the song to win the Oscar is probably the reason she lost, even though most were 99.9 percent sure she would win.
To many on Twitter, Lady Gaga was an absolute hypocrite. After all, she was the star of the “Do What You Want With My Body” video starring R. Kelly less than two years ago. The video is currently on YouTube, but either Lady Gaga or her management is trying to make it disappear everywhere so people will forget. However, if people truly care about rape victims, they can’t forget about this video.
Jezebel described the video as an ad for rape, and they weren’t exaggerating.
“This apparently happens: Gaga asks Kelly, ‘Will I ever be able to walk again?’ The singer replies, ‘Yes, if you let me do whatever I want with your body.’ The not-so-good doctor then adds, ‘I’m putting you under, and when you wake up, you’re going to be pregnant.’ ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME.”
Some of this didn’t make it into the video that was leaked to YouTube, but several sources, including the Independent and Huffington Post, reported on it as well. If you don’t understand what’s insulting about this, the Daily Beast has a great explanation of R. Kelly and his sexual victimization of black teenagers.
“Who the hell decided to forgive R. Kelly? Despite years of documented allegations of statutory rape, which included hanging around Chicago-area middle and high schools to troll for ‘dates,’ the chart-topping R&B recording artist is still invited to perform at various industry events, including November’s Soul Train Awards.”
The article adds that there was even a video of Mr. Kelly urinating on a young African American teenager. Around the time Lady Gaga’s video was filmed, the Village Voice came out with what they described as “stomach-churning” accusations against Mr. Kelly. If you can’t stomach reading the article, then just realize how the lives of several underage African American girls were torn apart. And these accusations were public for years, especially when Mr. Kelly was released on a technicality. How could Lady Gaga have not known all this?
The fact that the general media has refused to call Lady Gaga, who has now become a top figure in the anti-rape culture movement, out on this blatant hypocrisy — one which would hurt the careers of just about any other female artist — is the most disturbing aspect of all this. Is the media ignoring all this because Lady Gaga is white? Is the media ignoring all this because the victims of Lady Gaga’s duet and video partner are black and they just don’t matter as much? These are difficult questions to ask, but they must be answered.
There have been some very prominent African-American journalists who have called Lady Gaga out on Twitter, only to receive horrific comments from Lady Gaga’s fans. The senior editor from Ebony became the latest victim of harassment from Lady Gaga’s fans after she dared to question if Gaga had ever been asked about her work with R. Kelly.
@JamilahLemieux I hope you get raped you ugly c***
— Countess Gaga (@GagaCountessThe) March 4, 2016
It’s also important to note that Lady Gaga has worked with Terry Richardson on several sexually explicit projects for years. He is also the man who not only directed the “Do What You Want With My Body” video, but has been accused of improper behavior with young girls himself. He has recently worked with Lady Gaga on photos for the January 2016 issue of V.
Lady Gaga, who has been an advocate for anti-bullying, would likely cringe at the behavior of some of her fans. She has made an effort to do good things. However, there is no way Gaga should be given a pass for working with people who sexually and psychologically hurt many women, including several African American teenagers, just because she has an anti-rape song out. Then again, there is no way she should be immediately lynched either. Nobody is perfect and Ms. Gaga will likely tell you that herself. Let’s hope Lady Gaga can explain her years of work with people like R. Kelly and Terry Richardson soon.
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]