I’ve been promising this review to a couple of people for a couple of days, but lately I’ve been busier than usual (which is a good thing for me) so I’m putting it in the way now.
Like much of the world (or at least the Facebook world), many people were unsure how to react to the new video released by the creative wonder known as Lady Gaga. I didn’t even know of this super premiere until I got a message from a friend asking me about a “crotch shot” …and then I noticed the trending topic of Twitter. Eventually, I got around to viewing the 9 1/2 minute musical flick that, to me, invoked a number of artists from music and film.
First, let’s state the obvious: this video is an homage to the Maverick of film, auteur Quentin Tarantino. Love him or hate him, you know who he is or at the very least have seen or heard at least one of his movies if not already owning them all. The movies that got the Gaga treatment here are Kill Bill (Vol. 1) and Pulp Fiction. Notice the titles and how they are written. Note the yellow truck labeled “Pussy Wagon.” Even if this was an original idea, it still seems to fit Gaga’s persona. Then again, maybe the vehicle of choice wouldn’t look too recognizable as a vehicle at all… like her limited edition of hats.
Another homage I’d like to reference is the late great Michael Jackson. No one did music video premieres like the King of Pop. Remember back in the day when it was a big deal, and the local TV networks aired it at the same time? I mean, it was like an event. I’d assume it was chatter for the water cooler the next morning, but since I didn’t work in an office in the 90′s, it was hallway and cafeteria chatter. Maybe by the milk station or lunch line. Either way, you noticed. And like MJ, this video was essentially a short film, including a plot and some dialogue. I’ll be honest, I didn’t follow it at first, and was also unaware that it was a continuation of the “Paparazzi” music video (yet there are arguments as to why this song was chose to continue that particular story… artistic choice is my answer/defense). I would also like to contend Gaga’s nod to MJ but doing a quick little MJ-esque move as she leaves the prison. But that’s just my opinion.
A no-brainer homage is to Madonna. People have been saying that for a long time now due to her provocatively sexual style, all-out performances, musicianship, costumes, and ever changing image among so many other things. This has even been brought to SNL with both artists appearing as themselves which led to a cat fight of sorts. It was an awkward sketch. I feel bad for even bringing it up. Another comparison is to Marilyn Manson. I don’t think I really need to explain, do I? Anyway, wrap up all these people, and probably toss in a few other acts, and you would get something that looks and sounds like Lady Gaga.
Since everyone is a critic, and I personally can’t say in one word how I really feel about “Telephone”, I figured I’d bring my opinions to the Indoob and get it all off my chest. So if anyone asks, I’ll just point here.
Let me also be clear about the song: I was never really a fan. I’ve heard it dozens of times way before this video came to be. It’s not a bad song; it’s just a song I don’t care for. It’s currently not on my iPod. And it’s no offense to Beyonce either. In fact, I think it’s awesome that the two of them have done this song together. In fact, I thought that this song makes for an interesting companion piece to Beyonce’s “Video Phone,” which also has a Tarantino flair/nod to the beginning. Once upon a time, I thought these songs were one and the same, maybe a reworked remix or something. But it’s all good. Power to the top leading ladies of music in 2009/2010!
So let’s dissect the video a bit, shall we?
- (1:00) I was first alerted to that shot where Lady Gaga is stripped and thrown into her cell, then clings to the bars practically naked and explicitly exposed. And then the comment following shortly after. I don’t think that gets uncensored anywhere. I could be wrong.
- (1:27) Later on we see the smoking cigarette glasses/mask. Once again, Gaga is being innovative and imaginative here. Obviously, she wouldn’t be allowed in most restaurants in America while wearing this. At least not while its “active.”
- This whole prison sequence, especially the fights, the way inmates and guards are dressed, girl-on-girl lovin’ and just the fact its an all women prison can also be a call back to those sexploitation films of the 70’s about such scenarios. Of course, it’s updated for the 2010 generation.
- (3:02) Like the song, the video matches whenever the song “skips” or does has that technical glitchy sound. It’s very odd, but I’m still unsure if I like it or not.
- (3:11) Her first few little dances remind me of MJ once again, particularly the music video for “Bad” which is yet another famous short film. I think this nod concludes when Gaga is leaving the prison and does a quick little step that signals MJ is leaving the building (4:32). Again, just my opinion. It could be just her doing her thing.
- (3:20) Gaga dancing in her studded bikini wasn’t a turn on, nor was it a turn off. She’s got a body that is worth flaunting. The dance sequence down the jail hall reminded me of the movie Chicago for some reason, and I haven’t seen that in years.
- (4:06) I didn’t mind her crime scene tape outfit, if you want to call it that. But those shot of her posing on the bed with her head/face moving creeped me out immensely.
- (4:15) By the way, where did she pull out that phone while wearing something that?
- Speaking of product placements: Virgin Mobile anyone? This wasn’t subtle. I don’t like product placements like this. It’s distracting. The ones that aren’t so distracting, like the Diet Coke cans in her hair? That’s ok. And the PlentyOfFish placement was amusing.
- (4:47) We meet Beyonce in all black, including lipstick. Not a fan of that, but I’ll roll with it for now. But a word on make-up, I’m not really a fan of it at all. Not in this video, anyway.
- I loved the dialogue in this little scene before the music kicks back in. Again, smells like Tarantino. That’s a good thing, if you like him anyway.
- We move to the diner scene, which feels a lot like Pulp Fiction. There’s more dialogue but in subtitle form which I think is cool.
- (6:08) I especially like the “smack!” and the Asian woman exclaiming something in her native tongue. Forgive me for being ignorant; I don’t know what language I was reading. It was cool nonetheless.
- (6:35) “Let’s Make a Sandwich!”
- (7:08) I actually paused to see the ingredients for her poison… turns out it contains other poisons. Still, I recommend not trying this at home.
- A bit morbid to dance around after committing mass murder, but this is only fiction.
- (8:18) I’m convinced Beyonce was channeling Virginia O’Brien in The Big Store (she starts singing at 3:29), but it’s also the video edits to blame.
- (8:33) As per usual, there is at least one wardrobe ensemble that makes me gag a little.
And once everything is said and done, we are teased with the possibility of a sequel. And with that, I feel that despite its oddity and longevity, I will be in favor for the video and not dismiss it. However, as it stands, I’m a bigger fan of “Bad Romance” compared to “Telephone.” I liked that video and song the first time I experienced it. This one takes some growing on me. I think Gaga’s next venture will be in 3D. I might be officially scared to venture with her to that world, but it’s all in the name of art and entertainment, right?
What say you in these matters?