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The Day I Didn’t Want To Write About Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is the Internet. If you try to look up “Lady Gaga Alejandro video” on YouTube, you will find several faux links — mostly, for the record, leading to unattractive angry gentlemen with laptop cameras opining on something or other. The unattractive angry gentlemen, for once, have it right: Entitling something after a Lady Gaga release is going to get you some clicks.

This, for the record, is also how I justified writing about Lady Gaga so much to my personal gentleman caller, around the time he was following up every single post I or anyone else wrote about the Gaga with a blog post of his own to the effect of “SHE IS A POP ARTIST AND ACTS LIKE A POP ARTIST OH GOD STOP WITH THE DECONSTRUCTING:” Lady Gaga is the Internet. Every time she does something, we all pay attention. But, unlike a video of a farting baby or a fatally injured cat or whatever else it is the Internet is looking at this week, she somewhat rewards our analysis. Particularly analysis of the lady-politics or “what the heck is up with sex? That seems like a complicated topic, to be sure” variety. Everything she did was spectacle, pure goofy Internet-pandering spectacle at that, but it was typically rooted in at least some interesting statements about femininity, or gender identity, or sex of some variety; therefore, those of us who wanted to talk about those things were well-suited to keep an eye on Lady Gaga, and to write about her, for she could keep people entertained with her dazzling sparkler boobies while we talked about it.

Which is why it’s a damn shame that “Alejandro” is basically a Madonna video. And also, boring.

I mean, yeah, sure: There are some typical Gaga provocations in there. Oh, hey, a dude in fishnets and heels! Oh, whoa, Nazis! (OR ARE THEY LEATHER DUDES??? Actually, they are probably leather dudes. Let’s calm down.) Oh, my, H.R. Gaga! I imagine that some conservatives are probably upset about her dressing up as a nun; I imagine some feminists are probably upset about the scene of her being surrounded and/or wrassled with by dudes and subsequently macked upon. Whether we should be surprised — or appalled — that an entire video drenched in BDSM iconography peaks with some rough (and notably enthusiastic, on the Gaga’s part) sex is up for debate; me, I say No. It’s just rough group sex. (Also: At one, all-too-brief point, Gaga pegs a dude.) Par for the course, for a lady who writes lyrics like, “I want your drama, the touch of your hand: I want your leather-studded kiss.” It’s just that now we can see that the dudes with the drama, the hands, and the kisses are, in fact, leather-studded. But the cross-dressing and rough sex and H.R. Giger fantasies of a be-underpantsed police state run by an alien queen are only minor points in the video’s narrative. For the most part, it’s just military-bustier Gaga, surrounded by dudes with bowl cuts (THE MOST UNFORTUNATE OF CUTS!) and olde-tymey boxing costumes, doing some not-too-interesting dances.

Gaga’s controversies used to be more interesting than this. They used to bring up stuff like, say, trans prison issues, or the politics of depicting human trafficking, or whether femininity and female sexuality were a means by which women were oppressed, or a means of empowerment (answer: Both, provided you can shoot fire out of your nipples). I mean, what are we supposed to fight about now? Leather culture’s appropriation of SS gear? We had that done by the ’70s, at least. Catholic sexy times? Yawn. Whether women can or should eroticize rough sex with a bunch of dudes and/or one dude? JESUS CHRIST, NO. SHE TAKES HER SHIRT OFF IN A SAUCY AND CONSENSUAL MANNER. WE HAVE DONE THIS; IT IS OVER; CONSENT IS ALL THAT MATTERS; THERE, IT IS SETTLED. AGGGGGAINNNNNNNNN.

This is all some weak sauce, Gaga-wise. It makes her less herself, more the standard pretty blonde pop star her detractors have always called her. In fact, it makes her look like a crappy knock-off of one specific pop star. Because, like, yeah: There’s some blatant BDSM imagery, and some rough sex, and that’s going to piss off all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons. But, like, pissing people off with BDSM imagery?

And, yeah: She’s dressed like a sexy latex bondage nun for parts of it, and swallows a rosary (in what is a pretty obvious, and cheap, reverse-the-film bit of trickery), and that’s going to piss off Catholics in particular and Christians in general for its blasphemy and whorish appropriation of pure and holy symbols belonging to Our Sacred Mother Church. But, like, pissing off Catholics and Christians for juxtaposing iconography with sex?

(Side note: How goofy and offensive is that Madonna video? I hadn’t seen it in like 15 years! I remember people talking about how “sacreligious” it was, and I remembered people calling it an anti-racist statement, and I especially remembered her making sweet blasphemous love to Jesus, but I completely forgot the part where Madonna goes on a magical blue-screen journey to Black People Really Like Me Heaven!)

Even the fucking gun-bra corset is nothing new. And, like, a very obvious and derivative nothing. You can call it “homage.” But “homage” should be more clever than this. The most fun part of the video is the part that’s most obviously and goofily early-’90s: The bit where she’s in full-on 1991 pop-star drag, trousers and a vest (filmed in black and white, too! Hello, Salt and/or Pepa!) and fancy dudes in suits come out from behind her and get to catwalking. That part seems funny, intentional, referential, like the Gaga I know. The rest of it just seems… boring. And I kind of count on Lady Gaga not to be boring. That is sort of her thing.

In fact, the whole thing is so early-’90s, and so boring, that it feels goofy to even talk about it. Coming out as anti-“Alejandro” makes me feel like a prudish schoolmarm. Coming out as pro-“Alejandro,” on the other hand, makes me feel like all of those “feminist” “scholars” that wet their pants over Madonna back in the day. People like (SHUDDER) Camille Paglia.

Don’t make a Paglia out of me, Germanotta. Next time, come up with something that’s actually offensive. Or, at least, cool-looking. Give me something to talk about. You are the Internet; our fate is in your hands.


  1. Gayle Force wrote:

    See, I thought it was sexy. I did really like the exact same part you liked, Amanda, where the men catwalk on either side of her. But WHOA did I forget the video from Like a Prayer. That was obviously a necessary coping mechanism.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Permalink
  2. Sady wrote:

    Oh, it’s Sady, actually! The system does this evil thing where, if more than one contributor is logged in at a time, it automatically credits me as “Amanda.” But I am me! Nevertheless! And the byline should now reflect this fact!

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Permalink
  3. Gayle Force wrote:

    Sorry, Sady! Anyway! Yes! I liked the same bit as you!

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Permalink
  4. Erin wrote:

    Maybe the boring regular popstar-ness of the video is all part of her master fame plan. People might get bored talking about her interesting videos, so now she has us complaining about her boring video, which will just make it more likely that we talk a lot about her next interesting video.

    Either that or she just felt like making a video that is guaranteed to be played all summer on TVs at gay clubs. She is just giving back to her original fan base. 🙂

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Permalink
  5. Ziggy wrote:

    you hit the nail on the head. Why is she boring? seems to me it’s the same co-optation of subversiveness going on that makes so much “feminist”, or “queer” pop culture seem so empty.

    also: I actually saw parts of the video today and honestly thought, “well, madonna is back doing what she did best.” never realized it was in fact lady gaga.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Permalink
  6. EM wrote:

    My thoughts:

    Oh my god, it IS a Madonna video.

    Oh my god, every single male dancer has fantastic legs.





    Yeah, that’s far as I got.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Permalink
  7. Jess wrote:

    Wait, I thought this video was all about military and religious power, and the oppression of gay people. I mean, I don’t expect to have untangled it all for several more viewings (and, yes, I may get distracted by the gyrating in underwear), but there’s definitely something there.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Permalink
  8. Sady wrote:

    @Jess: Well, yeahhhhhh, but: Didn’t Madonna do that, too? Albeit in a slightly less overt way?

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Permalink
  9. Sady wrote:

    @Sady: About gay folks being oppressed, that is. Although that was still pretty well out there, after a certain point. Madonna was NEVER less than overt about the religious thing.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Permalink
  10. Kathy wrote:

    As arresting (if derivative) the video is, the song is… kinda boring. It’s a little “La Isla Bonita” mixed with ABBA? “Teeth” is a better song with a similar video.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Permalink
  11. attie wrote:

    Eh, Gaga’s videos have never made sense to me anyway. Still, I don’t like that one much, even if that trousers/vest ensemble is AWESOME. So Gaga commands the Sexy Police?

    Anyway, though, while I can’t see anything very interesting in the video, that song speaks to me very much. For me, it has always been about harassment.

    “don’t call my name, alejandro
    i’m not your babe, fernando
    don’t wanna kiss, don’t wanna touch
    just smoke my cigarette and hush
    don’t call my name, roberto”

    It’s just like the quintessential experience of Stepping In Front Of Your Door While Female.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Permalink
  12. eloriane wrote:

    The thing I noticed was that all her dancers of colour are gone. You can see some in Telephone, and even in the live American Idol performance of Alejandro, but not in this video.

    Which is a disappointment.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Permalink
  13. stompie wrote:

    I get everyone’s arguments about this being boring, but I also think that that opinion only really works if you’re old enough to remember back-in-the-day Madonna and/or culturally literate in a way that allows you to go “Oh hey, Tom of Finland!” Speaking as a former queer teen, I freaking WISH something that referenced Tom of Finland, Kiss of the Spider Woman, back-in-the-day Madonna and The Night Porter (etc etc etc) had been put out by a blazingly popular musician when I was still green and eager enough to go to library and look up references. I mean, that’s how Jewel (cringe) taught me about Anais Nin…how much cooler would it have been if I’d been able to learn about leather daddies instead? As a jaded adult, I agree that the video is kind of a boring re-tread, but I guarantee you that if I were 14 I would be wetting my pants over this.

    (Maybe I am overconfident that 2010 gay teens don’t yet know about Tom of Finland, etc., though – that’s a possibility)

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Permalink
  14. Toastbat wrote:

    @Eloraiane: I had thought that was purposeful for this specific video given the whole possible Nazi thing.

    Alejandro is a booooring song. It reminds me of Ace of Base, but not in a good way. I like the video more than the song, though, even though it is not one of my favorites.

    OH! Lesley @ Fatshionista breaks it down pretty interestingly, actually. Yay,tabs.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 8:13 pm | Permalink
  15. snobographer wrote:

    Madonna was probably ripping someone off in her hayday too. Monroe here (obvs), Loren there, little Barbarella action going on with the space-boobs…

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Permalink
  16. CassieC wrote:

    For me, there will always be only one weird exotization of “Fernando:”

    although honestly that video is even more boring than excruciating.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Permalink
  17. Ryan wrote:

    More than Madonna, the first part of this video reminded me of a Guy Maddin (“The Saddest Music in the World”) film. The distant violin music, the alternately washed out and oversaturated color, the German expressionist sets and costumes, the movie studio snowstorm…these are all Guy Maddin trademarks! Specifically, it reminded me of this: Sissy Boy Slap Party.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 10:04 pm | Permalink
  18. Silvana wrote:

    Dudes, this Alejandro video is AMAZING. What are y’all smoking? Yeah, it bears some similarities to Madonna stuff. So? Since when is the litmus test for good art whether or not it’s completely and totally original? I mean, shit, lots of stuff is derivative. I took the Madonna references to be more tongue-in-cheek acknowledgements of her controversial-pop-video-by-a-hot-blonde foremother, rather than being derivative. I wouldn’t call it “homage,” either. The fact is that Madonna did some controversial shit, but it was I-am-being-slutty-now controversial, not I-am-totally-queering-gender controversial.

    Also, I think you are wrong, Sady, to think that Gaga was just going for most-controversial-thing-she-could-think-of and missed the mark by accidentally copying Madonna. I think we ask too much of Gaga if we expect each video to be increasingly provocative. This is more than that. It’s making gender-fuckery really, really hot and confusing, and you NEVER see that shit in mainstream pop culture.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Permalink
  19. Sady wrote:

    @Silvana: Eh. There’s some footage of dudes in heels. Mildly provocative. The video as a whole is just really been-there-done-that, especially considering that it’s (ANOTHER) long opus. Rewarding her just for the heels thing, when it’s surrounded by so much blah, seems like giving credit just for showing up. It’s like she wanted us to notice some mild crossdressing, and the 1.5 seconds of her pegging somebody, and it’s a more obvious and less substantive or nuanced or coherent statement than she usually puts out. And simplistic. What, do we hand out cookies every time anyone does something mildly subversive? Not to mention, everybody’s pretty gendered-female or gendered-male outside of the heels thing (and the one fishnet dude — which, to be honest, reminded me more of the ’00s staging of “Cabaret” than anything else). I don’t ask Gaga to be “increasingly” provocative; I ask her to keep making statements that are up to par for her. I just really don’t want “Bad Romance” to be her peak — and right now, with her videos getting longer and more self-indulgent and referencey, and less tight and subtle and original (or, at least, subtle and putting a substantial amount of original spin on their references), it seems like it might be.

    Also, I think originality has been part of our litmus test for good art since.. a while now? You can reference something, or acknowledge something, but you should have something new to say with it. Boiling Madonna down to just “I am being slutty now” is problematic, for one thing; she did stuff with sex and power and femininity that was interesting, and made pro-queer statements with her work frequently, although her fucked-up Nice White Lady Who Is Almost One Of YOU, Marginalized POCs Of The Week attitude frequently took the whole thing off the rails. This video isn’t just ripping specific looks and moves from the “Human Nature” playbook; the entire “sex/queerness good, Church/organized violent power bad” thing is pure Madonna, both in the way it’s expressed and in the vision of power and resistance it lays out. I don’t disagree that sex and queerness are good, or that the Catholic Church and organized violent power are (sorry!) often super-bad, but I’d like Gaga to bring us some fresh news in addition to that fairly obvious (and thoroughly made-before) statement.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Permalink
  20. iris wrote:

    The major critique I have read about this video is that it glorifies conflict in latin@ cultures, and that none of the dancers are “visible” minorities.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Permalink
  21. Silvana wrote:

    I don’t think it’s simplistic at all. I think you could actually do a pretty substantial deconstruction of the video, and I think there’s a lot there, maybe even more than the Telephone video. I also don’t think that the only gender-bending thing is the fact that the dudes are wearing heels. The entire video is gender-bending, because it is completely–100%–about the female gaze and the male gaze becomes irrelevant. It’s not just that the dudes are wearing heels. It’s also the clothes they’re wearing, their haircuts, the way they’re walking, the way they move on the bed, the way they’re worshiping their clothes and their own bodies with self-regard, the way they move their hips, the way they’re submissive to Gaga, their gleeful, child-like expressions in the gang-rape scene…I could go on and on.

    I’m not handing her a cookie for being subversive. I don’t judge art based on whether or not it’s subversive, generally. I think she created a visually dense, thematically interesting, socially conscious piece of video. It might not be provocative to you, but given that she’s a major star getting TONS of attention in mainstream audiences, I think it’s worth more than just an “it’s derivative” write-off.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Permalink
  22. Silvana wrote:

    Oh, looks like you added to your comment. Yeah, I don’t mean to write off Madonna, either. I just think that what she was doing is significantly different from what Gaga is doing.

    Also, I agree that originality is part of the art litmus test. But I think it’s overrated as a measure of quality.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 11:38 pm | Permalink
  23. Tarryn wrote:

    Hmm. I like the song, but as for the video? Don’t love it, don’t hate it, but clearly, I’m missing the point she’s trying to make. Because I have no fucking idea what it’s about.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 11:42 pm | Permalink
  24. I think I saw more gender/sexuality subversion than you did. I liked the guys doing the scene with the yelling that was sort of gay sex/fight scene. I definitely liked the shoes (and they were not limited to one scene at all). I liked when she danced with the guys in her sand colord bra/underwear set and seemed to be the least sexualized person on the screen (to my way of looking), and even the homage dance with bra o’ guns. Also the (brief, yes) scenes of the men making out. And of course her pegging the guys (which happened over the course of a little while).

    And not really related, for some inexplicable reason I really liked the marchy bit where they’re all squat walking. I realize that’s weird as all get out.

    Anyway. But I do see what you’re saying about this being less engaging than Bad Romance and others.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 11:56 pm | Permalink
  25. Sady wrote:

    @Iris, Eloriane: This doesn’t necessarily erase what you said about the whiteness of the video (at least compared to some of her others) but at least two of the dude dancers read as men of color to me. If you reload the page, and look at the freeze-frame that’s on before the video starts, the dude with the beard and the weird “GRRR” expression at the top left-hand corner reads (to me!) as a dude of color; if you go ahead to the point where she’s a nun and the olde-tymey boxers are lifting her up (“Light As A Feather, Stiff As A Board” is a very important part of any good police state) the men I read as brown are at roughly eleven o’clock and nine o’clock on the circle. Specifically, they read to me as Latino guys, but I don’t want to get into that whole “let’s guess Person X’s race” game, since it’s objectifying. Everybody is made to look more or less the same, and shot either in overexposed black-and-white or that weird bluish light that makes everyone look ghostly.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 12:02 am | Permalink
  26. Gayle Force wrote:

    @Deviant E, I saw a lot more gender/sexuality subversion, too. But I really liked how role-play- and kink-positive it was.

    Also: this video was sexy TO ME, who is into kink and all kinds of non-vanilla, queer (sexuality, not odd) stuff. and thus it rocked my socks off. I never get to see my flavor of “sexy” in the mainstream. I think the fact that Gaga managed to make a non-traditionally-sexy sexy video is pretty great.

    I do think there’s a ton to talk about here, as Silvana said. I’ve already dedicated substantial time with folks to breaking it down. But even the fact that we can have this comment conversation at all says a lot, no matter how “boring” the video is.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 12:09 am | Permalink
  27. Yeah, I’m with those who voted for ‘actually way more interesting than that.’ The sexualising of all those male bodies, for one thing, and especially the scenes where there’s male bodies stretching out, demonstrating their flexibility – flexibility is so coded as a girl thing in music vids – read to me as a counter-heteronormative (masculine) gaze (in fact, I think the gaze on the men there shared a lot in common with arty gay pr0n, like ‘blue’ mag in Australia). And… wait, pegging in a clip isn’t interesting? Nor the blending of military training into homoerotics? Really? And while yeah, I get that in some ways, BDSM imagery is used a lot in contemporary pop vids, I’m not sure that it has quite this level of complexity, or, basically, hotness. It felt like a *depiction* of rough-edged desire, not just an allusion to it. Or something.

    I don’t think it’s as fun or as interesting as some of her other clips, but I’m not sure it’s as old hat as all of that, really.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 2:07 am | Permalink
  28. EM wrote:

    Having given it some more watches, I do think there’s something else here. It’s hard to discern b/c of all the needless fluff. Probably 3:30 of it could be removed and the rest reworked slightly to make it tight…but I may be reading into it b/c I want to read into it. Ill think some more.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 8:52 am | Permalink
  29. Courtney wrote:

    I don’t like the song and I don’t care to watch the video. Gaga in a nun’s outfit? So what. Madonna did that shit 20 years ago, why do I need to watch it again? It’s rather unoriginal.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 9:17 am | Permalink
  30. another maggie wrote:

    I read Lesley’s take on it first, so I might be biased now…

    ( )

    Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 10:24 am | Permalink
  31. Deborah Judge wrote:

    I loved the men dancing in heels (but otherwise looking very masculine) moving in very stereotypically feminine ways, led by a woman. Admittedly I’m not up on pop culture, so I can’t say if that’s derivative, but if that’s been done other places I’d like to see them.

    I didn’t like the church imagery, it seemed fairly one-note. Madonna, in the video above, plays interestingly with the classical Song of Songs commentary tradition which sees erotic love as a metaphor for the relationship between Christ and the individual believer, as well as the idea of seeing Christ in the oppressed. I can’t see what’s being said about Christianity in Lady Gaga’s video, other than connecting it with the military as something sex-denying, and that’s not really new or interesting.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 11:41 am | Permalink
  32. sidekick rings wrote:

    “Specifically, they read to me as Latino guys, but I don’t want to get into that whole “let’s guess Person X’s race” game, since it’s objectifying. Everybody is made to look more or less the same, and shot either in overexposed black-and-white or that weird bluish light that makes everyone look ghostly.”

    That’s interesting you say that, because the military parts of the video, ESPECIALLY the beginning, are a lot like Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation video. She supposedly had the video shot in black and white (against the wishes of her label) to make people’s races less obvious.

    Here’s the video for reference:

    Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Permalink
  33. Natalie wrote:

    This video made me laugh so incredibly hard, and this is why:

    Lady Gaga is playing the part of a melancholy sister in the Holy Order of Kinky-Ish Sex. In a latex habit. With a screwy version of the Knights Templar symbol on it.

    That part at the beginning, with the stepping–it is a bunch of really incredibly pale guys performing a style of dance that was most recently brought to my knowledge by my best friend because of the sorority she’s joining, in which she will have to learn at least one routine of that type.

    (Oh, Lady Gaga. I just. I love you, probably, because you are so totally okay with being nuts.)

    I agree with what several people have said, too, about most of the male dances–to me it seemed exactly what it would look like if you switched the focus of the sexualization of most pop-y dance moves from the female participants to the male participants.

    Also, those shoes are awesome and I want some.

    The end.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Permalink
  34. Georgia wrote:

    Yeah, the video for Alejandro seemed really weird. It makes a lot more sense in the context of serious homage to Madonna, but still, its pretty goofy. Alejandro has been out for a while because it came out with Telephone on the Fame monster and she has talked about it being about her relationship to sex and men especially while she’s on tour. In that context it’s a pretty interesting song and I wish the video could have elaborated on it, but really it just seems out of place. like she thought of the concept ages ago and then thought “hmm which song of mine will be next to top the charts? I’ll wait and see and then put it in this video!”

    Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Permalink
  35. You know what else I thought about during the video? How the dancers felt about what they were doing. I wonder if many of the dancers perhaps really enjoyed the chance to break out of normal dance roles for men, how many of them are gay and thus might have enjoyed getting to depict homoeroticism, etc.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Permalink
  36. Tavi wrote:

    Someone told me on my post that it was supposed to be an homage to Madonna? 1) I am over Gaga’s “homages” and 2) I wouldn’t consider this to be one.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Permalink
  37. RoseG wrote:

    Like “Telephone”, this video could have been shorter, tighter, more edited–but I’m kinda glad it wasn’t, because I love it. It’s funny, sexy, catchy, weird, ditzy… Gaga.

    I like her use of Madonna as a lens (more than “Telephone” and Tarantino)–I think the reference is both appreciative and critical: Gaga clearly acknowledges Madge’s iconic importance, but the over-the-top more-Madonna-than-Madonna has a definite snarky feeling for me (and I saw some gestures in the Evita direction which made me giggle).

    As Lesley @Fatshionista observes, “there isn’t a pop star alive today who does not stand on Madonna’s well-sculpted shoulders, and anyone who claims otherwise is seriously deluded.” (Thanks to Another Maggie for that link.)

    Both “Alejandro” and “Telephone” exist in an interdiscursive relationship to Gaga’s earlier videos and the works of those who have influenced her in a way that really delights me. (Let’s make a sandwich!)

    Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Permalink
  38. iiii wrote:

    Great. Now I’ve got “Like a Prayer” running on an endless loop in my head.


    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 1:25 am | Permalink
  39. Fuchsia wrote:

    Very enthusiastic lurker here – who, I should point out, rarely ever comments because she rarely ever disagrees with anything written on this site! Except now:

    “Even the fucking gun-bra corset is nothing new. And, like, a very obvious and derivative nothing.”

    Well, I personally can’t really see any realy similarity with the space boobs at all… I mean for one thing you can’t shoot out of Madonna’s bra and I really appreciated the reversal of depicting breasts rather than the usual phallus as dangerous. Madonna’s surely hasn’t pushed out any possibility for anybody to ever do anything whacky with bras ever again?

    Anyway, as a general remark on the entire video I LOVED it, but was considerably disappointed when I realised that everybody (including apparently Gaga herself, oh dear) seems to believe it’s about gay men. I read it as queer certainly, but got very excited with the fact that (with the exception of one couple in two scenes) the gentlemen dancers seemed to be mainly focusing their attentions on the female Gaga (at least when she isn’t sitting on her throne and, very symbolically I thought, looking down on them that is) and therefore should probably register as straight or bi. And well, wouldn’t it be great if we could reach a point where “men in fishnet stockings and high heel shoes” does not necessarily = gay??

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 11:00 am | Permalink
  40. Rodrigo! wrote:

    I would like to know more about this dance style Natalie mentioned! It seems fierce.

    As for Deviant E’s question, watch these videos: and , I think gay dancers get plenty of chances -and actually “valid” ones as you can see- to be queer and dance outside of Gaga’s videos. The first video is actually Jonte, the guy who choreographed most of Beyonce’s videos (yes, including Single Ladies).

    Still, in a way, I get what you mean in the ‘Gaga as Internet’ way, like if I were a dancer, doing gay-sex-like dance moves and I knew EVERYONE would watch me I would be a little more excited about it.

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Permalink
  41. Gnatalby wrote:

    I liked the video, though I definitely wish it were a lot shorter and tighter.

    That it’s derivative doesn’t bother me. Madonna didn’t invent S&M or voguing, but she used them for awesome. And even in the context of Like a Prayer, wishing Jesus would unfix himself from the cross and sex you up is as least as old as Margery Kempe (14th century.

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Permalink
  42. Ashley wrote:

    I’m familiar with Lady Gaga’s singles and with some of her previous videos, and I think she’s more a pop star than feminist icon, which is fine, and more power to her.

    However, I find this video and song pairing very distressing in exoticizing, othering, and dehumanizing Latino men. Doesn’t the fact that the dancers are all dressed alike, with the same haircuts, along with the fact that she’s singing simultaneously to Alejandro, Roberto, and Fernando as though they are the same person, seem racist? The message seems to be that Latino men are interchangeable in terms of how they act, how they look, and possibly how they fuck.

    The visuals along with the lyrics really squicked me out. Not to mention her horrendous neither Anglicized nor correct Spanish pronunciation of Alejandr-r-r-r-o. Ugh.

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Permalink
  43. Natalie wrote:

    It’s the same Natalie from before, because I thought of another thing and I’m just kind of a loudmouth or something: the “Like a Prayer” video is from 1997. Thirteen years ago. This video is using, yes, a lot of the same tropes, a lot of the same weird movements, and they’re still going to shock and enrage people: the “oh my stars and garters, BOY-SHAPED PEOPLE in HEELS and PANTIES, WHAT IS THIS COUNTRY COMING TO” people, and the “WHAT OTHER GAY OR GAY-ISH THEMES WHAT IS THIS COUNTRY COMING TO” people, and in addition to that the religious people. I know for a lot of people religion is very important, and seeing it depicted or used in this way is very upsetting, and that is understandable; but it is actually way more toned-down than the “Like a Prayer” video, which I just saw for the first time on this very blog entry, and which featured Madonna basically sexing up Actual Jesus.

    This means that in 13 years there has been such little growth, so few substantial advances in tolerance and understanding, that the same things that shocked, terrified, and enraged (some of) us in 1997 can still shock, terrify, and enrage (some of) us in 2010. And that’s just sad.

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink
  44. @Natalie: “Like a Prayer” is considerably older than 1997. Wikipedia says it was released on 27 Feb 1989 and was certified quadruple platinum in 1997.

    I had kind of a meh reaction to the video the first time I saw it too (not sure anything’s ever going to top “Bad Romance” for me), but I think there’s something there. The Fatshionista post that Another Maggie linked @30 has interesting things to say.

    At the risk of sounding like one of those people, Lady Gaga puts way too much time and effort into her videos to be throwing things in at random out of laziness. If it looks like a Madonna video, and plays with Madonna’s themes, then she’s probably saying something about Madonna. I think it’s worth pondering what that might be.

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Permalink
  45. Belle Waring wrote:

    Kind of embarrassed to admit it, but I thought it was the hotness. I have a real weakness for guys in tights, thanks to Tim Curry.

    Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 9:06 am | Permalink
  46. Victoria wrote:

    I’ll preface this by saying that I am not a Lady Gaga fan. I find most of her songs pretty mundane, this one more than others.

    But I wonder: is everyone comparing “Alejandro” to “Like a Prayer” simply because it contains religious imagery? Because a whole lot of videos contain religious imagery.

    To my eyes, the Madonna video this most explicitly references, in its lighting, costumes, and (some) choreography is “Express Yourself.” Here, look:

    As goofy as it is, “Like a Prayer” presents a coherent narrative, one that deals explicitly with racism. The burning crosses aren’t so much religious imagery in that context. Neither is the black Jesus. The fairly predictable storyline is about saving a black man from being prosecuted for a rape a white man committed.

    “Alejandro” doesn’t work to present any kind of narrative–it’s an entirely different structure–and the whitewashing (whether by lighting or casting) others have pointed out strains the comparison further.

    In the larger context of Gaga’s videos, this one is kind of a letdown (even for a non-fan). But as a regular contemporary pop video, it seems, well, regular. I have a hard time understanding how anyone who consumes pop videos would find this even a little shocking. The choreography and camera work are gorgeous, though.

    Monday, June 14, 2010 at 12:15 am | Permalink
  47. [insert name here] wrote:

    Gaga has stated that the video is about her relationship with her gay friends, and in the video (she says) she is pining for their love, but they don’t want to be with her.
    I’m not sure how much of that I see, but I think it comes through most in the scene in which she is looking down as all of them men dance together.
    Also wikipedia says the video is a Cabaret reference? I need to watch it again, but I didn’t get that the first time.

    Thursday, June 17, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

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  1. Itemized on Saturday, June 19, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    […] decidedly anti-political/feminist exposĂ© in the New York Times. (Sady also analyzes “Alejandro” vis-Ă -vis Madonna) Classic; see […]