Negotiating “Alejandro”

To call Lady Gaga’s new video for “Alejandro” ambitious is an understatement. Clocking in at just under 9 minutes, it feels more like an experimental German propaganda film mixed with a Calvin Cliein ad than it does a music video. As I have found myself saying about Lady Gaga More and more lately, the Madonna influence becomes clearer and clear every outing.

Not necessarily in the music, except in that, the music is pretty arbitrary. The song “Alejandro” isn’t bad. It’s pretty much a ripoff of Ace Of Bace, but it serves the images well.

And folks, with Lady Gaga, that’s what its really about. The images on this video strike me representing one of two things:

1) A complex pop culture puzzle that re-augments gender politics and sexuality while fetishizing instruments of opression such as Religion and Government.

2) An overambitious pastiche of the 30 Year Career of Madonna condensed into an 8 minute “best of” reel.

3.) A calculated piece of provocation that combines aethetic button pushing with a Male Burlesque of the German SS.

I feel certain that it can’t be all three.

The first theory is the easiest to tackle because it implies some artistic statement on the part of Lady Gaga. Let’s take what we are given.

At the beginning of the video we see a starkly lit shot of two legs in fishnets sitting in a chair. The camera dollys around to reveal the identity of these legs. Hot girls? Surprise! It’s a Man! In Fishnets! Clever Gaga! You tricked me! And he’s got really toned chest muscles and he’s sleeping next to a machine gun. Quick Cuts to German text translating to “Lady Gaga In Alejandro”

At this point, we’re only 15 seconds into the video and Gaga has already managed to fetishize fishnets, leather chairs, machine guns, and the German language. And the song hasn’t even started yet!

Then we see the glorous bodies of several fit dancers (All male, of course) backlit doing drill. Crane over a topless man hanging from marionette strings that appears to be wearing some kind of chastity devise.

Its about at the 6:54 mark of the video that things start to fall apart when shots of  Madonna Lady Gaga fondling a crusifix intercut with what appears to be actual riot footage. (Anyone have any idea what this means, because I’m at a loss for that one) Granted by this point we’ve already seen her deepthroat a rosary, so its not a big deal. However, by this point we’re inundated with so many different fetishized scenerios that are cut between so fast it becomes difficult to glean any meaning from what’s going on anymore. There’s Gaga backlit by fire (A la “Like A Prayer”). There are some more men dancing in SS Uniforms. There’s more pseudo-Bondage stuff on the bed while Gaga mounts a man from behind. More gratuitously topless men wrestling with each other in time to the music .  Lady Gaga turns her back to the camera and walks away while Snapping. More riot footage (seriously what the hell is this about.)

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About Patrick Felton

Patrick Felton is director of the West Virginia Filmmakers Festival

Posted on June 8, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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