Office Depot’s Lady Gaga Initiative Insults True Bravery and Traditional Values

On a recent trip to buy a printer at Office Depot in Brentwood, Tennessee, the kids and I noticed a sign on the checkout which read “Be Brave,” with this tagline: “We Supply Bravery.”  As the wife of an Iraq vet, I found it interesting that a major office supply store would extol back-to-school shoppers to be courageous.  After all, America could use more bravery.

But I read on, and realized the initiative was a partnership with a person who best represents “bravery” in our modern world: Lady Gaga.

Apparently, the singer, in an attempt to promote her song of the same title make the world a better place, has created the Born This Way Foundation which has this stated mission:

“…to foster a more accepting society, where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated. The Foundation is dedicated to creating a safe community that helps connect young people with the skills and opportunities they need to build a kinder, braver world. We believe that everyone has the right to feel safe, to be empowered and to make a difference in the world. Together, we will move towards acceptance, bravery and love.”

Office Depot pledges to donate 25% of the sales of limited edition “Born This Way” products directly to the foundation, with a guaranteed donation of $1 million. So how does Lady Gaga want you to create a better, braver world?

Thankfully, there are many great historical and literary admonitions on which Lady Gaga’s new foundation could rely.  For example, Madeleine L’Engle wrote, “We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are.” J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “Living by faith includes the call to something greater than cowardly self-preservation.”  And, of course, Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Traditionally, bravery means having the courage and the moral fortitude to push forward in spite of fear.  It calls us to something greater than ourselves.

Not so with Lady Gaga.  On the “Do Your Part” section of her website, I was happy to discover that by simply clicking on the “Do Your Part” icon on her website, I had “already taken the first step toward creating an accepting, loving, and inclusive world.”

Easy enough.  Secondly, I was asked to “Review Our Plan.”  Did this plan include soaring to greater heights and looking to a cause bigger than ourselves?  No, the website assures us that their plan, is “all about you!” Lastly, I was asked to “submit my story of bravery” with the assurance that there is no wrong story.

The blog portion of the website is rich with stories of bravery.  One “brave” person was Barack Obama for being brave enough to support gay marriage, a student who was brave enough to come out as a transgender, and Chaz Bono for undergoing gender transformation.  Also, the blog announced the winning poster made by a student showing two guys kissing, with a helpful Gaga-approved definition of bravery:

“Bravery is knowing that you can’t change who you are, and that you’re worth it.”

In other words, they’ve redefined bravery to include people like me, who have finally accepted the fact that I’ll never remember to cancel HBO after my free 6 month trial membership, never lose those last ten pounds, and probably will miss all of the PTA meetings at my kids’ school this upcoming year.  Thankfully, I don’t have to change, because – after all – it would be cowardly of me to try!  I’m worth it!  I was born this way!

In fact, The Born This Way Foundation encourages people to wear “bravery bracelets” that look like this:

But real “bravery bracelets” look more like these memorial bracelets:

When I saw this Lady Gaga display at my local store, I snapped a photo and sent it to my friend. She only responded: “an incredible insult to actual bravery.”  Apparently, Office Depot needs to use one of the dictionaries on the shelves of their stores to look up the word.  They’re right past the gigantic Lady Gaga posters.

Actually, after I post this article, I’m going to submit it to the “stories” of bravery page for my willingness to stand up to the silliness of Lady Gaga.  After all, I hear there are no “wrong stories” of courage.

FOLLOW UP:
Office Depot Responded to Me, Here is the Ongoing Conversation

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Nancy French is a three time New York Times Best Selling Author.


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