One thing I have learned about myself since arriving here in Berlin is that I adore culture! I love my own culture, I love learning about other people’s culture, and I love to educate others about culture. I really do believe that a mutual understanding between people, and an education on the different cultural aspects of the world, can be a factor towards peaceful relations.
Another fact about me, one that I did not need to come to Berlin to realise, is that I adore music! I am open to enjoying all types of music and I just love how it can alter ones mood, mostly to lift their spirits. Lady Gaga is a hero of mine on the music scene. I am a massive fan of her music, her style, and her influence on the world. While some may find her strange and perhaps not a good role model at all, I find her a massive outlet for the downtrodden, the underdogs of the world, and mostly an inspiration for those who are trying to find their way, people who often feel that they do not matter. You may disagree but first read my piece below on Lady Gaga as a cultural bridge for the world!!
The American political scientist Milton C. Cummings described cultural diplomacy as “the exchange of ideas, information, values, systems, traditions, beliefs, and other aspects of culture, with the intention of fostering mutual understanding”. This is a perfect description of the all-encompassing concept that is cultural diplomacy. One cannot confine their conception of diplomacy of any sort to simply the work carried out by diplomats and through government policies. This is particularly the case if advocates of cultural diplomacy want to broaden their audience and reach out to younger generations. Let’s face it, very few in their teenage years or even their early twenties will take completely to heart the ‘wise words’. What younger generations do listen to, quite literally, is music, and as many people involved in cultural diplomacy will tell you, music can build bridges between countries.
While there are many examples which could be given to show the sheer force music can have, I have chosen to use a more contemporary example. Lady Gaga! The horn-sprouting, meat-wearing, Judas-loving, songstress? How, you are probably thinking, could this woman be an advocate of cultural diplomacy. Let me tell you firstly that I am not the only person in the world with this opinion. Quite recently, US Ambassador to Hungary Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, presented Gaga with a cultural diplomacy award. When questioned about the motive behind her action, she answered “A big part of her message is to speak out to people who are different and who feel different and tell them it is OK to be different, even when everyone around you is telling you it isn’t”. Universities in the US are also getting caught up in Gaga-fever, offering students chances to take classes which will discuss Lady Gaga and impact on culture.
So, why Lady Gaga? What has she offered the world of cultural diplomacy? Lady Gaga offers us a mirror, a reflection in the search for ourselves. She provides an outlet for different cultures and ethnicities to come together, illuminating a common interest they have while leaving a door open for more commonalities to be formed whether that person is from France or India. Her message of cultures becoming one is apparent in both her personal messages to her fans and in the lyrics of her songs. She is often heard telling her little monsters (Gaga’s pet name for her fans, her being ‘Mother Monster) to stay strong, calling her fans to embrace their otherness and the otherness of others. ‘Born This Way’ has been hailed as an anthem for acceptance, and in the case of this blog cultural diplomacy, with lyrics like ‘no matter black white or beige, chola or orient made”.
While some reading this may disagree, Lady Gaga can be viewed as an advocate of cultural diplomacy even if on the slightest level. It is a growing opinion and the future will probably see her as a Goodwill Ambassador because there is no doubt she is shifting the paradigms of culture.