The brand values of a country are determined by what it does and what it has done not what it says it will do.
Indonesia’s brand values took a massive step backwards this week with the effective banning of the sold out Lady Ga Ga show on June 3rd.
With the extremist Islamic Defence Front (IDF) effectively calling the shots and with the Police obligingly refusing to issue a permit for the concert and refusing to guarantee the safety of Ga Ga and the 52,000 fans who would have attended her largest show in Asia, Ga Ga had no choice but to pull out. But make no bones about it this show was banned by Indonesia because they don’t like what Ga Ga stands for and that in turn says allot about what Indonesia stands for.
Many or is it even most Indonesians don’t seem to either care or understand about what this says to the rest of the world about Indonesia judging by the on line support or apathy for the what the Police did. Only a few more liberal commentators have spoken out against the decision including some in the Jakarta Post.
The Indonesians have effectively said that they are homophobic, misogynistic, oppressive and intolerant of others. No? Well that;s what this decision says to the rest of world. The government could have stepped in to ensure the show happened and refused to do so, thus endorsing the actions of the IDF and the Police and in turn their prejudices.
By supporting gay rights and being a gay icon Ga Ga was a target for the homophobic minority (I am assuming a minority….) and by creatively expressing her own sexuality and right to wear what she wants and perform in an artistic and entertaining way she angered those who see women as second class citizens in Indonesia (again I am assuming a minority….).
The irony is of course that the effective banning of the Lady Ga Ga show on the grounds that she will corrupt the young girls of Indonesia will actually have the reverse effect of the intended one. In case the IDF and Police aren’t aware Lady Ga Ga is the most popular on line artist that there has ever been.....
Her facebook site has 52 million fans/likes, her Twitter account has 25 million followers, on You Tube she is a massive hit with videos like "Bad Romance" getting 500 million views…that is twice the size of the entire Indonesian population……
Do the IDF, Police and Indonesian government really think that all her fans, and those non-fans now curious about what all the fuss was about are not going on line to interact with Lady Ga Ga and view her videos not just the 52,000 who would have attended the concert?
They have effectively helped Lady Ga Ga market herself even harder as a gay icon, female wonder woman and creative artist of such high standards and indepndence that the Indonesian’s couldn’t handle her and banned her as a result.
The Indonesian authorities and IDF have effectively in their own misguided words “corrupted” many more millions of Indonesians and generated much more money for Lady Ga Ga as a result. A classic case of ignorant actions having the opposite effect of the intention with the biggest loser here not being Lady Ga Ga by any stretch, but the Indonesian country brand, now seen as bigoted, backward and western un-friendly.
Compare this with a country only a few miles away, Singapore, also partly Muslim where Lady Ga Gas has been welcomed with open arms. She is in the middle of playing three sold out nights at the Indoor Arena to an adoring and sold our crowd of 30,000. She could have played ten times that with ironically fans coming from less tolerant countries like Malaysia and Indonesia flocking to her shows here.
Lady Ga Ga was even chosen by SingTel as the artist to launch their music website in 2011 in Singapore. There were no threats, no demonstrations and not even any discussion about the threat that she posed to the Singapore youth.
The Singapore government is much too savvy and switched on for such idiotic outbursts. They also know the power of their country brand and would never do anything to harm it or communicate that it is not a very tolerant and creative country who welcome all religions and all creeds which it does with open arms.
Although being a lesbian in Singapore is legal, being a male homosexual is not but the law is never enforced and I know of many gay couples who live happily in Singapore and many gay clubs that operate in Singapore without bother.
The irony of this entire furor is that I have seen it all before. Lady Ga Ga is just the new Madonna. Nothing new just repackaged for a new generation.
Before Lady Ga Ga was even born Madonna was causing uproar and controversy much worse than Lady Ga Ga ever has. From "Like a Virgin" to "Justify Your Love", Madonna’s lyrics, on stage antics and videos have been the cause of controversy and generally added to the interest in her brand…she was never banned in Indonesia though….she wisely it seems chose never to play there…..in the light of the treatment to one of the world’s most influential acts which creative and pro-gay rights artists will now choose to play there?