Philippines: Religious Protests Helped Fan Hype For Lady Gaga

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By Maurice Malanes

Religious protests in the Philippines apparently helped American pop star Lady Gaga move tickets, as her two recent concerts in Manila were sell-outs.

“Sold out night 2 in the Philippines. I love it here,” Gaga (whose real name is Stefani Germanotta) reportedly tweeted after her concert on 22 May was packed with 20,000 fans, the same number who attended the previous evening.

Concert organizers have yet to decide whether or not to push through with a scheduled 3 June concert in Jakarta, Indonesia amidst threats from Muslim groups.

Before Gaga arrived, some Christian youths had been holding vigils and calling for the concert to be banned. Catholic Archbishop Ramon Arguelles also had told reporters that her fans were in danger of “falling into the clutches of Satan.”

To prevent the spread of hate against Gaga and her avid fans, another pastor said that Jesus’ gospel of love must prevail. “I’ve advised parishioners that we must love the person (Gaga) although we may not approve of her songs, lewd dances, skimpy attire and occult-oriented pronouncements,” the Rev. Wilfredo Basilio of the Marikina Christian Fellowship said in a text message to ENInews.

A church leader and some entertainment critics believe that the religious protests helped fan hype over Gaga’s show.

“For some reason people get excited when it comes to showbiz and the controversies ironically generate more interest,” noted National Council of Churches in the Philippines general secretary Rev. Rex Reyes in a 23 May text message to ENInews.

Lea Salonga, a Filipino Broadway singer and art critic, was also quoted in the Manila press as having tweeted that the protest was “much ado about nothing” after she read the lyrics of the controversial song “Judas.”

Protesters had threatened to sue Gaga if she sang “Judas” as it supposedly mocks Jesus Christ. But Gaga defied her critics and during her two shows belted out “Judas” and the equally strong “Born This Way,” an anthem seen as calling for recognition of gay identity.

“The song ["Judas"] is actually about admitting one’s sinfulness and a longing for redemption,” Pasay City (part of metropolitan Manila) Mayor Antonino Calixto told national television. Calixto said officials tasked to monitor the show found no violations like nudity, blasphemy and lewd conduct.

Entertainment critic Aya Yuson said the skimpy costumes of women dancers on some of Manila’s noon time TV shows are even more daring than Gaga’s outfit, which made her look simply “like a comic book super villain of Spiderman.”

As the pop diva left, Salonga was later said to have tweeted “Lady Gaga wins” for selling more tickets due to the hype from the protests.

Ecumenical News International (ENI) was launched in 1994 as a global news service reporting on ecumenical developments and other news of the churches, and giving religious perspectives on news developments world-wide.

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