Lady Gaga's Anti-Bullying Campaign: Will It Work?

In keeping with her anti-bullying message, Lady Gaga has set up a campaign called Born This Way, "which will support programs and initiatives that deal with all aspects of empowering youth. The non-profit charitable organization will lead youth into a braver new society where each individual is accepted and loved as the person they were born to be. BTWF will focus on youth empowerment and equality by addressing issues like self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring and career development and will utilize digital mobilization as one of the means to create positive change."

Maybe it’s because I don’t like her music and stage persona, but I have often been critical of Lady Gaga and other celebrities’ attempts to mitigate bullying in schools, particularly that which is directed at LGBTQ youth. Will watching a video of Ke$ha slur, “No matter if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, however you are choosing to live is beautiful,” really make some kid in Minnesota who’s receiving death threats feel better? Maybe, but I’m not entirely convinced. Perhaps I am overly-cynical.

The whole anti-bullying, out-and-proud-and-fabulous bandwagon, spurred by Dan Savage's It Gets Better campaign, that celebrities have been jumping on just seems sort of...disingenuous. It's really easy to tell someone to love him or herself. When you live in a place like New York or LA, surrounded by gay men shamelessly wearing colorful, fashionable clothes and walking down the street like they own it-- gay men that literally do not give one single fuck what anyone has to say about them-- and cool lesbians who read cool, intellectual books about gender theory, it's easy to forget how hard that is for some people.

By all means, Ke$ha, tell your fans to love themselves-- but where's the outrage? Homophobic bullying is the micro result of structural intolerance and inequality. I'm not the biggest fan of Sarah Silverman, but her It Gets Better video is one of my favorites. "Dear America," she says in that (slightly irritating) high-pitched, cutesy voice of hers, "when you tell gay Americans that they can't serve their country openly, or marry the person they love, you're telling that to kids, too! So don't be fucking shocked and wonder where all these bullies are coming from that are torturing young kids and driving them to kill themselves because they're different. They learned it from watching you." Oh, but how much simpler it is just to tell gay kids that they're beautiful than to address the fact that, you know, after earning the right to put their lives on the line for our country, gays and lesbians are still being told that their service is not wanted in the military, or that Michele Bachmann refuses to take a stand against anti-gay harassment.

Celebrities like Ke$ha are guilty of naivety, but the same can't be said by the likes of Kim Kardashian, who used her four-minute It Gets Better video as an excuse to talk about herself and how hurt she feels when she reads nasty comments about herself on the internet. Give me a fucking break, Kim. This is not about you. Just stop.

All that being said, whatever problems I have with their approaches, the fact that so many celebrities have taken up this cause is positive. And whatever doubts I may have initially had about Lady Gaga, I applaud her for taking the step to actually launch a campaign against bullying. It seems well thought-out and in the end, if she succeeds in saving just one life, it will have been a success.

College student, future history teacher, and feminist. 


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