Lady Gaga was the biggest winner at the MTV Video awards Sunday night. She even won the most coveted prize of all: Video of the Year for ‘Bad Romance.’
The video’s mish-mash of symbolism has sparked much debate as to what it could all mean. One prevailing theory is that Lady Gaga is playing a sex slave, being bid on by the Russian mafia. She starts the video climbing out of a designer suit case. This presumably represents the “trafficking” part of her enslavement. The last shot of the video shows the pop star on a burnt down bed next to the charred corpse of her John—a sex slave’s revenge on her slave master.
Needless to say, not everyone is amused by Lady Gaga’s seemingly light hearted approach to a very real crime that ravages thousands of people every year. But there is no doubt that she has precipitated a certain amount of discourse on modern day slavery in venues not normally reserved for this topic. (Chicago Art Magazine and Technorati both ran feature-length essays on the ‘Bad Romance’ video, and its representation of sex trafficking.) One only wishes the discourse could have gone into more detail about what, exactly, modern day slavery looks like. How it encompasses more than just the flesh trade. How it can take a survivor years upon years to recover from the trauma. And how the crime can be eradicated—if only we educate ourselves, engage our communities and work to affect policy.
But discourse is discourse. And Lady Gaga, in her own way, has contributed to raising awareness about human trafficking. It is our responsibility, once we learn of the existence of modern day slavery, to further educate ourselves. To learn more about what some are calling the human rights issue of our era, download Free the Slaves’ education pack.