A sisterhood, not a clique, made by ‘Joanne’

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There are so many things to remember about Lady Gaga’s concert in the Philippines during 2012 — the red meat dress and the human meat grinder prop, the prosthetics-filled face, the perfectly synced dancers, the club-feel of everything down to the crowd where some of them donned actual wood in their concert outfits.

But what stood out the most, at least for me, is Lady Gaga singing “Hair,” stripped off the beats and accompanied only by a lone piano. Before that, she drowned the Mall of Asia arena with a “love speech” meant for the protesters outside, requesting that the concert be stopped for having a “bad influence on the youth.” Those were the days when Lady Gaga’s song were entitled “Black Jesus + Amen Fashion,” “Bloody Mary,” and “Judas.” With one leg up a stool, she said the most inspiring things about embracing individuality and loving one’s self — a staple theme in her music.

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Bob Dylan is another sign of equality

“The times they are a-changin’.”

Nobel Prize announcements are always a surprise, but Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature may have been one that is not only surprising, but also needs to be justified. Veering away from the usual list of elitists and powerhouses like Gabriela Garcia Marquez and John Steinbeck, Bob Dylan may be the first Nobel laureate that is not only more famous as a musician than a writer but is also a household name. For conservatives that hold the Nobel sanctity, there is a kind of desecration for choosing among hundreds of nominees, a folk singer that “does not match the merit of those who have received the prize before him.” The 75-year-old contended with Syrian poet Adonis, who is considered as one of the most influential Arab poets in the modern era; and Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o who has written in arrays of forms mostly tackling African diaspora.

Famous Filipino novelist F. Sionil Jose went so far as asking the Nobel committee to “explain.” Musician and poet Lourd de Veyra even tweeted what sounded like a disappointment.

Naturally, the flak is international. Novelist Rabih Alameddine also took his sentiments on Twitter, comparing Bob Dylan to a “Mrs Fields being awarded 3 Michelin stars.” Online magazine Slate even wrote an article explaining why Bob Dylan should not have been awarded the prize.

How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool’s hand?
To see him obviously framed
Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed
To live in a land
Where justice is a game

Spectators of the Nobel ask, can music rise to the standards of literature?

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