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“Re” Thinking: Revitalization, Return, and Reconciliation in Contemporary Indigenous Expressive Culture.

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Michaëlle Jean and Jean-Daniel Lafond

TO THE ARTS, CITIZENS! : Social Mediation through the Arts

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Dr. Kwame Anthony Appiah

Society Matters: why should we value the Humanities?

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James Bartleman

Residential Schools: Have we forgotten our responsibility?

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Weaver, Johnson and Chuenpagdee

How Do We Build Resilient Communities in the Face of Climate Change?

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Gérard Bouchard and Graham Fraser

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David Adams Richards

Threatened Identity: what do we lose when we lose the sense of place?

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Chief Shawn Atleo

First Nations Education: Can we afford to miss out?

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Antonine Maillet

Giving voice: Who speaks for the forgotten?

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Andrew Weaver, climatologist

How can Canadians keep their cool in a warming world?

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climate change panel

Lady Gaga Projecting Positive Values

There’s no doubt American pop singer Lady Gaga is a powerful cultural phenomenon just now. She’s won Grammy Awards for her music, been photographed for the cover of Vanity Fair, and wowed the public with powerful videos and an over-the-top sense of style.

Along the way, she’s attracted a wide following among teens, gays – and academics.

It’s Lady Gaga’s pull as a cultural icon that led Zorianna Zurba, a first-year PhD student in communications and cultural studies at Ryerson and York universities, to take a closer look at one of her most successful hits, the song and video ‘Telephone’.

Zurba explained, at the 2011 Congress of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of New Brunswick, how “Telephone” speaks to values of the young people who are Lady Gaga’s core fans.

And those values, she says, include love and acceptance.

There’s a recent history of strong female pop stars attracting attention by a combination of creativity, talent, and pushing the boundaries of dress. Cher, with her outré Bob Mackie gowns, was a hit in the 1980s and a few years later Madonna’s cone bra became an iconic image.

Zurba says Lady Gaga – a 25-year-old American born Stefani Germanotta – follows in that tradition.

But her music and style are contemporary, speaking to her audience about modern technologies and values.

In “Telephone,” Lady Gaga shows how ubiquitous the cellphone has become for people of a certain generation. Zurba says it’s now assumed the person we’re calling will always be available. In “Telephone,” Lady Gaga sings of how she takes unwanted calls even if she’s in a nightclub.

(“My question to Gaga is, ‘Why don’t you just turn it off?’” Zurba quips.)

The song also shows that text messages and phone calls have different rankings.

If someone wants to put out a covert and serious message, they will use text. But if they want to be more open, they’ll call.

Zurba says Lady Gaga is also speaking strongly to the idea of accepting yourself as who you are.

“The younger audience is picking up on those messages,” she says. “For example, that you don’t have to look perfect and be a representative of the mainstream culture. Success does come in different packages.

“Lady Gaga is ushering in a post-modernist perspective,” she adds. “What’s fantastic about what she’s doing is that it gives us a multiple perspective on the world.”

Photo courtesy of  FV/RAVENSYMONECPEARMAN on Flickr


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