Can Lady Gaga make a difference and change the world for a better place when celebrities of our times from Lady Diana to Whitney Houston have been down the road, without much success? Perhaps, with the power of the social web behind them, Lady Gaga and other young celebrities can make a difference.
First sign that they may be able to make any positive change, is in this recognition by the establishment that it is time the enormous clout of social web, supported by modern technology, is reckoned with.
There is no other plausible reason to explain the acceptance of the top most educational institution of the world to act as the spring board for the Born This Way Foundation of Lady Gaga, named after her 2011 album and hit song, which promotes self-empowerment and has become an anthem for gay pride.
With 20 million followers on Twitter and sophisticated web technology enabling her to feel the pulse of her followers, Lady Gaga who had her own bitter experience and the support of other celebrities like Oprah Winery, could persuade Harvard to lent its name and backing to her cause and thereby gaining strong conviction among her millions of followers.
Lady Gaga’s new foundation is aimed at empowering young people to fight bullyingby promoting tolerance and acceptance and will be working with a new media agency to create a social media environment that fosters the foundation’s goals.
Gaga spoke to more than 1,100 students from several states, faculty and invited guests at Harvard, urging the young audience to “challenge meanness and cruelty.”
“I believe that if you have revolutionary potential, you must make the world a better place and use it,” she said.
She reminded them that there is no law to make people be kind to one another and added: “I wish there was because, you know, I’d be chained naked to a fence somewhere trying to pass it.”
Not surprisingly, the ideas of Lady Gaga resonate with more mature thinking and trends elsewhere like the acceptance of vulnerability in addressing the social issues, giving much hope that they are likely to strike a chord with the youth of the world.
For instance, Brené Brown, a research professor at the University Of Houston Graduate College Of Social Work, who spent years studies vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame addresses empowerment by posing the questions:
How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?
For the Harvard University, the ultimate custodian of propriety, the enormous popularity alone is no reason to recognise and welcome a pop singer like Lady Gaga; the event has attracted criticism as a marriage of strangest of bed fellows.
But the willingness of the prestigious university to get involved with Lady Gaga has to with being in line with a new trend of including the phenomenon of the social web in to the knowledge base and accepting its social engineering clout, more than the brownie points it can add to its collection by associating with a very noble cause.
The invitation of another young artist to share his viral marketing success on the web with its faculty and students of another top notch business school, the IIM of Ahmedabad, where leading corporations of the world queue up to recruit the best business brains, is indicative of the trend and an example of the new found clout celebrities are acquiring from the social web.
With such active interest being taken by such leading institutions on the social engineering potentials of the social web and the support they are willing to lent to a new generation of coconscious achievers in the arts and sports, who are willing to extend a helping hand, there is hope that the celebrity culture, which revels in narcissistic and destructive escapades, will have a newer and kinder face.
There is evidence that as the notion and adulation of celebrities and the celebrity culture spread beyond the Oscars, Grammys and Hollywood in to the world outside, so do the new trends and values.
This has been demonstrated by Vidya Balan, a film actor from Bollywood who won the National award for the best actress of the year but chose to celebrate her success by visiting and addressing an unfortunate group of women who are victims of human trafficking.
Lady Gaga deserves to be applauded to be the one to show the way by putting her clout on the social web to promote her profession and a good cause.