Lady Gaga has canceled her concert in Jakarta, Indonesia, because of threats of violence from an Islamic fundie outfit called the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI). 50,000 people had bought tickets. They were going to fill a stadium. Now comes the fallout.
Indonesia is not known as a theocratic prison state. Ironically, Indonesia is one of the least fundamentalist Islamic societies. Moderate Muslims actually exist there. Music is not limited to a call to prayer. Contrast the Indonesians with the Taliban of Afghanistan who ban all music – any and all forms of music. Only the Blue Meanies themselves were ever known to do that. International pop culture is quite prevalent in Indonesia. The Gaga concert was only conceived of in the first place for that reason. And again, 50,000 tickets moved. How many more young people in Jakarta would have chosen to go to that concert if they had the time and money? How many fans in total does Lady Gaga have in Indonesia? How many people there love the secular arts in general, beyond the redoubtable Gaga? The answer is millions.
Reading about this FPI bunch brings to mind the reaction among Christian fundamentalists in the 1960s when John Lennon blurted out his infamous, and true, remark that the Beatles had become “more popular than Jesus.” Considering their popularity in the Christian world and elsewhere, more Beatles fans did exist at the time than observant Christians. The technical truth of the statement, and the fame-boggled moment of naivete that led to its utterance, did nothing to soothe Southern Baptists. Bonfires of Beatles records went up all over America, and the death threats poured in against the band. It may have been one reason they stopped doing live concerts, though the mania of the throngs who adored them, not the haters, was said to be the more compelling reason.
In the Comment sections under some of the articles about the Lady Gaga concert, people were quick to say that the Muslim world is a sink of religious repression and censorship, and while not exactly saying straight-out that it “couldn’t happen here,” they implied that. Of course, Comment sections of internet articles seem to be the permanent encampment of the most conservative and/or reactionary elements of society, so nationalistic chest-thumping is always to be expected. (It’s hard to reconcile the sentiments of Comment writers with the that of the electorate. Somehow, fortunately, a major disconnect exists.) In this case they’re right that the average act of terrorism and religious repression that takes place on this planet is committed in the name of Islam. The underlying psychology that drives it is far bigger than the Islamic world, though. For all it’s seeming size and power, the future is profoundly insecure for that dark mentality. Maybe hopeless.
In one of the many articles on-line about the canceled concert, a young ticket holder was quoted as saying he “hated” the FPI. Stay tuned for more on that sentiment going forward. That young music fan is not prepared to go back to the Dark Ages, and he’s not moving out of Indonesia. He’s growing up, too. Getting stronger. A theocracy, official or de facto, is like a big leaky dam up against a vast lake. It loses a tiny bit of itself with every minute and every drop that passes, all the way until it reaches the fate of all dams. Earth has no permanent dams, nor does any other world.