“Born This Way” Makes It Better… But For Whom?

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[Shannon Cuttle is an educator, school administrator, safe schools advocate and trainer, community organizer, and policy wonk.]

So today is a big day for little “Monsters” everywhere (otherwise known as Lady Gaga fans).

If you have not already noticed by now in your news, Twitter, Facebook, and other feeds, Lady Gaga has dropped her highly anticipated new single called “Born This Way” today from her upcoming new album (available in May). Hype of the song release has been everywhere for weeks building up in anticipation for today.

Lady Gaga, who has been viewed as a vocal LGBT supporter, said in her recent VOGUE interview that, “I wrote ["Born This Way"] in ten fucking minutes, and it is a completely magical message song. And after I wrote it, the gates just opened, and the songs kept coming. It was like an immaculate conception.”

Having admitted this past October that she was bullied in school as a youth, she is now selling and marketing her new single about bullying to the LGBT community as an “anthem” and a “timely piece”.

But, an anthem and timely piece for whom?

Lady Gaga has signed an exclusive deal with Target for pre-order sales of her new album that also features an extended album with additional tracks only available at Target, with free download of the much-hyped song “Born This Way” as purchase incentive.

As you may recall, this past summer Target was caught donating funds to anti-LGBT candidates and the LGBT community responded with a boycott of the retailer that is still largely in effect.

Lady Gaga, who last year made headlines at the MTV video music awards by speaking out for the repeal of Dont Ask Dont Tell, is now in an exclusive contract with Target, who has made anti-LGBT contributions?

Forbes has estimated that Lady Gaga, with a new album, tour, and marketing in 2011, could make as much as an estimated $100 million dollars. An estimated $30 million is expected to come in just from potential sales of “Born This Way.” In 2010, she was ranked as the seventh highest grossing artist just behind Jay-Z.

Is it all about the Benjamins?

Lady Gaga stands to make herself the top grossing musician this year with her anti-bullying anthem benefiting in the wake of the recent tragedies this past Fall.

The LGBT community should also have concerns about her use of “transgendered,” a grammatically incorrect form of the word “transgender” that is often used by opponents of equality to conditionalize transgender identities.

Similarly, Hispanic and Latino groups are also criticizing Lady Gaga‘s use of the terms “chola” and “orient.”

Organizations like Chicanos Unidos Arizona and MEChA do not like Lady Gaga’s use of the words ‘Chola’ and ‘Orient’ in her lyrics, viewing both as being racist and derogatory.

The word chola according to the critics refers to Latina girls in gangs, Latinas from the barrio who have a certain look about them and conjure very negative stereotypes.  Lady Gaga use of this term in the song is sure to promote already negative Hispanic stereotypes, according to these organizations.

Is she making it better?

The selling and marketing around bullying is a hot topic these days, with promotions and products that are aimed at the LGBT community and other marginalized groups. Using tragedy for profit instead of awareness is not the way to remember those who have been lost or who are still struggling with bullying and harassment.

If Lady Gaga wanted to make a song to empower the LGBT community and youth everywhere, why is she marketing the theme of bullying to sell units to her masses? Why not make “Born This Way” a FREE download or donate the sales of the song to inclusive organizations or charites that work to assist youth?

Instead, Lady Gaga seems to be only making it better for herself in a most timely—or rather untimely—of fashions.

Take a listen and make your own decision:

BORN THIS WAY
Written by: Lady Gaga

INTRO:
It doesn’t matter if you love him, or capital H-I-M
Just put your paws up
’cause you were Born This Way, Baby

VERSE:
MY MAMA TOLD ME WHEN I WAS YOUNG
WE ARE ALL BORN SUPERSTARS

SHE ROLLED MY HAIR AND PUT MY LIPSTICK ON
IN THE GLASS OF HER BOUDOIR

“THERE’S NOTHIN WRONG WITH LOVIN WHO YOU ARE”
SHE SAID, “‘CAUSE HE MADE YOU PERFECT, BABE”

“SO HOLD YOUR HEAD UP GIRL AND YOU’LL GO FAR,
LISTEN TO ME WHEN I SAY”

CHORUS:
I’M BEAUTIFUL IN MY WAY
‘CAUSE GOD MAKES NO MISTAKES
I’M ON THE RIGHT TRACK BABY
I WAS BORN THIS WAY

DON’T HIDE YOURSELF IN REGRET
JUST LOVE YOURSELF AND YOU’RE SET
I’M ON THE RIGHT TRACK BABY
I WAS BORN THIS WAY

POST-CHORUS:
OOO THERE AIN’T NO OTHER WAY
BABY I WAS BORN THIS WAY
BABY I WAS BORN THIS WAY
OOO THERE AIN’T NO OTHER WAY
BABY I WAS BORN-
I’M ON THE RIGHT TRACK BABY
I WAS BORN THIS WAY

DON’T BE A DRAG -JUST BE A QUEEN
DON’T BE A DRAG -JUST BE A QUEEN
DON’T BE A DRAG -JUST BE A QUEEN
DON’T BE!

VERSE:
GIVE YOURSELF PRUDENCE
AND LOVE YOUR FRIENDS
SUBWAY KID, REJOICE YOUR TRUTH

IN THE RELIGION OF THE INSECURE
I MUST BE MYSELF, RESPECT MY YOUTH

A DIFFERENT LOVER IS NOT A SIN
BELIEVE CAPITAL H-I-M (HEY HEY HEY)
I LOVE MY LIFE I LOVE THIS RECORD AND
MI AMORE VOLE FE YAH (LOVE NEEDS FAITH)

REPEAT CHORUS + POST-CHORUS

BRIDGE:

DON’T BE A DRAG, JUST BE A QUEEN
WHETHER YOU’RE BROKE OR EVERGREEN
YOU’RE BLACK, WHITE, BEIGE, CHOLA DESCENT
YOU’RE LEBANESE, YOU’RE ORIENT
WHETHER LIFE’S DISABILITIES
LEFT YOU OUTCAST, BULLIED, OR TEASED
REJOICE AND LOVE YOURSELF TODAY
‘CAUSE BABY YOU WERE BORN THIS WAY

NO MATTER GAY, STRAIGHT, OR BI,
LESBIAN, TRANSGENDERED LIFE
I’M ON THE RIGHT TRACK BABY
I WAS BORN TO SURVIVE
NO MATTER BLACK, WHITE OR BEIGE
CHOLA OR ORIENT MADE
I’M ON THE RIGHT TRACK BABY
I WAS BORN TO BE BRAVE

REPEAT CHORUS

OUTRO/REFRAIN:

I WAS BORN THIS WAY HEY!
I WAS BORN THIS WAY HEY!
I’M ON THE RIGHT TRACK BABY
I WAS BORN THIS WAY HEY!

I WAS BORN THIS WAY HEY!
I WAS BORN THIS WAY HEY!
I’M ON THE RIGHT TRACK BABY
I WAS BORN THIS WAY HEY!

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