It may seem that chaos in Europe is about to bring down the global financial order and that rising tensions in the South China Sea presage warfare in our backyard.
But set aside the offshore aggro and Eurozone turmoil for a moment and focus instead on the more intriguing Eroszone, which has suddenly become a focus of attention, particularly in the Philippines and Indonesia.
Although these are green and pleasant lands of largely tolerant, friendly people, they both harbour a minority of religious extremists who routinely take umbrage at any display of sexuality, visual or vocal.
Over the past week, these divinely blessed folks have been raising a stink at the prospect of the bisexual singer and provocateur, Lady Gaga, staging her “Born this Way” concert in their capital cities.
Gaga, an Italian-American whose actual name is Stefani Germanotta, is scheduled to play in Manila tonight and tomorrow, and then, after more gigs in Bangkok and Singapore, to strut her stuff in Jakarta on June 3.
Why the objections and raucous protests? Because Gaga and her promoters have choreographed her stage show to stimulate precisely this kind of outrage.
She’s no dumb broad. She’s loud. She’s in your face. She’s like a triple espresso laced with flaming cognac.
As a chart-topping singer who writes most of her own material, Gaga has garnered global fame by the well-worn path of being as crudely provocative as is legally possible.
In the Philippines, which is 80 per cent Catholic, and Indonesia, 86 per cent Muslim, Gaga’s sexually brazen and religiously insensitive lyrics and outfits have ruffled feathers, just as they are intended to do.
Her Manila show will go ahead tonight provided, say the authorities, it does “not exhibit any nudity or lewd conduct, which may be offensive to morals and good customs” in the Philippines.
If you wish to check on these morals and good customs, pop into any of the bars along Burgos Street in Makati near the concert location in the Mall of Asia, or perhaps take a short journey to Fields Avenue in Angeles.
There you will discover conduct of such an extreme lewdness that it might even make Lady Gaga revise her routine.
And your visit will also reveal that most patrons are Filipino males, all of good Catholic stock, of course.
Meantime, over in Jakarta, the city police have refused to issue a permit for Gaga’s concert due, they claim, to objections from community leaders, including the august National Ulema Council.
As well, but more regrettably, activists belonging to the Front for the Defence of Islam have said they are “ready to be thrown in jail and be killed” if that’s what it takes to stop Gaga.
They assert that she is the “devil’s messenger” and that she appears on stage wearing only “a bra and panties” – a vision far worse to them than a video of Daniel Pearl having his head cut off.
Well, ho hum, it seems the force is with them – or at least, the fear.
A few Gaga groupies have come out online, effectively waving their knickers in the ether and saying they are also willing to die if that’s what it takes to allow her to perform in Jakarta.
But no one believes them, whereas based on past actions, everyone believes the FDI.
Truth to tell, most Indonesians almost certainly couldn’t care less one way or the other, although, like their Filipino counterparts, they would like more action taken against religious and political leaders who transgress.
As revelations in recent times have shown, far too many Catholic bishops and Muslim mullahs have been getting away with the most appalling kind of lewd behaviour, often involving the sexual abuse of minors.
What is galling is the hypocrisy of these people and their followers, who express bogus horror at any hint of sexual permissiveness, including Lady Gaga’s concert, yet engage it in themselves.
To contact the reporter on this story: Roger Mitton at [email protected]