Fine! It’s not my remix of “Alejandro”. It’s the 9 minute video that you all could NOT wait for, and here it is!!! It came out yesterday. How many times have you watched it? Have you memorized the dance routines? Have you purchased your Halloween costumes?
My first reaction to this video: Really? Where’s the story? You gave us a story with “Bad Romance” and “Paparazzi” and “Telephone”. “Bad Romance” being my favorite, mind you. Yes, it is a lot of dancing and less story, but there is one none the less. And it is dark and creepy and fun. But “Alejandro” is one dance move and one image after the other. There is no beginning, middle, and end. Not really. Then I started to think why do all the men have haircuts like Moe?
I guess they’re supposed to look like monks.
And the Christian imagery is almost too over the top.
Then there are the obvious Madonna references. At this point are they really references or rip-offs? The machine gun bra, the “Like a Prayer” sexuality, even the big flared pants and white blonde hair.
I finished the video and thought: Did I really just spend 9 minutes watching this? Sure, it’s sexy, it’s shot well, the costumes are fun to look at, the dancing is great, etc. etc. etc. <-Remember when Hector scolds the boys in The History Boys for ending a quote with “etc”, yeah, I did that on purpose. It’s an insult. Can I just keep drawing this out?
Then I thought about the video some more. Maybe Lady Gaga is that smart. She duped everyone, even folks who aren’t necessarily fans, into watching this video. It’s a video with all the right elements: dancing, outlandish costumes, taboo sexualities coupled with religious imagery, and it keeps with Lady Gaga’s current trend of short film music videos. Maybe the point of the video is not to tell a story or sell as many products as one can (thanks “Telephone”, we get it) or to introduce something we the viewers have not yet seen from Lady Gaga or any other artist.
Maybe the point of this music video is to make fun of the audience. Are Lady Gaga fans so obsessed with her and her supposed originality that even the most blatant overused images appear to be one of a kind? Listen, Madonna was not the first to take religious images and turn them sexual. Then again, Madonnna lacks in the originality department overall. (See Paris is Burning for one of many examples.)
So the brilliance of “Alejandro” is knowing exactly what images to use and how to present them to viewers. Knowing that viewers would tune in in the first place. It reminds me of Josie and the Pussycats, claiming to critique advertising and consumerism while splashing brand after brand onto the screen. Joke’s on the viewer. No way you can watch Josie and the Pussycats free of advertising and possibly succumbing to the same fate as the heroines. No way you can watch “Alejandro” and not walk away thinking you’ve seen it before. Although, I guess “Telephone” relied on existing stories to tell its own too. But that’s where how it is told matters. “Alejandro” makes no attempts to be separate. It could have been made by George Michael or Madonna or any other pop star.
I like to imagine Lady Gaga is THAT smart though. She knows she could, as a good friend puts it, shit in a bucket, and everyone will scream with ecstasy over her daring creativity. The “Alejandro” video already has close to 4 million views on youtube. I cannot help but wonder how many are folks who went to watch again, perhaps searching for something they thought they missed, or trying to prove to themselves that it really is one of a kind and deserves to be praised and awarded. Unless there’s an award for fooling people, she’s not getting one, or deserving of one for this video anyway.
All this being said, I want to pretend the video is smart and poking fun at viewers. That way I can like it. Because like so many people, and I am not even one who seeks out Lady Gaga, I want to like it. But I also wanted to like the most recent Star Wars movies and that’s never going to happen.