The other day my husband came across a video on facebook (you can view that video HERE) and he shared it with me featuring Lady Gaga giving a talk or speech at what appeared to be the U.S. Conference of Mayors. She was sitting next to His Holiness the Dali Lama and in this video, which looked to be snippets edited together from a longer speech, she said:
What is fearmongering? Well, when I looked it up in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary I was first redirected to fearmonger then to scaremonger, which then they defined as: one inclined to raise or excite alarms especially needlessly. Wikipedia, which we all hate to love, defined it as: the spreading of frightening and exaggerated rumors of an impending danger or the habit or tactic of purposely and needlessly arousing public fear about an issue. This can take the form of psychological manipulation that uses fear-based tactics (scare tactics) including exaggeration and usually repetition to influence the public in order to achieve a desired outcome. It is a tactic used to scare or put fear into those viewing a campaign/advertisement and influence the outcome based on fear.
While the result that Lady Gaga was encouraging her audience towards – kindness is applaudable the way in which she was doing so in this speech by eliciting fear from her audience members, was not. The image of not only an invisible snake, but an intelligent invisible snake slithering around each of us without our knowledge to incite us with a desire to hate one another is frightening. It’s the exact same image that many Christian religions use for Satan. If you are familiar with the book of Genesis in the Bible I am certain you know the story from the third chapter where there is an account of a serpent or snake tempting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The snake is a representation of Satan, an intelligent entity focused on destroying humanity. Was this imagery something Lady Gaga intended imply when she chose her own metaphor for her speech? Being that she is a highly intelligent individual I am certain she did, but then did she not intend to use fear as a motivator for change?
Many Christian faiths are known to use fear; fear of punishment for sins, fear of displeasing God, fear of going to Hell. Being that I grew up with that fear I know what kind of damage it can cause; the guilt that is usually associated with that fear. While fear maybe a motivator, I am not convinced it is the greatest one to use and it saddens me to see that an individual as influential as Lady Gaga do what the Christian Churches have done for years when there are other ways to motivate audiences towards kindness.