Finally following up on my Lady Gaga music video critiques. I am sure I will also talk about the “Born This Way” music video when it is released.
For me, the Bad Romance and Telephone music videos had an impact on popular culture, displayed Lady Gaga more as an artist and had strong messages about feminism. Check out my previous blog about Bad Romance here: https://elenamusic.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/the-art-of-gaga-lady-gagas-bad-romance-music-video-explained/
Lady Gaga’s Telephone music video starts off in a prison. Well, let’s rewind a little bit more, the song itself is about Gaga in a club, getting annoyed with getting several phone calls. She’s busy dancing on the dance floor and doesn’t want to answer the phone. Simple and vain at the same time. The music video isn’t really much about telephones at all.
Now, back to the prison, Gaga is admitted into her cell and she is stripped of her clothes. Two meanings there, we are reminded again of her being stripped in the Bad Romance music video, is she being stripped because the public wants more of her? She is more raw in this video, and she retaliates by jumping on the bars naked, thus, showing that is is a woman, and not a man or various incarnations the public has mapped her out to be. She’s saying, “this is me!”
Next we are introduced to the Exercise Yard, where we see a lot of butch women working out, trashy women, etc. You can overhear someone saying, “you ain’t gonna make it, baby”. I’m sure that’s a reference to people in Lady Gaga’s past who have told her she would never make it as a singer. She’s trapped in this prison, and she’s going to make it out, or “make it”. She is also “chained” to show how trapped she is. She kisses another masculine woman, showing her bisexuality and displaying a gay kiss that isn’t really seen in media often. Usually, lesbian kissing is with two hot girls, for the pleasure of straight men. This was a butch woman with a feminine women, for the pleasure of other lesbians, not men.
Gaga gets a phone call, and she has coke cans in her hair, previously in the Exercise yard she has cigarettes for sunglasses. Perhaps vices that Lady Gaga avoids or is hard to avoid? During the fight scene, right before Gaga answers the phone, there is a girl with sunglasses and long dark hair, and she looks like Lady Gaga in some way. A relative, perhaps? I just find that scene a little odd.
Lady Gaga is later busted out by Beyonce AKA “Honey B”. She is dancing her way out of her cell, and Beyonce greets her in the “P**** Wagon” which is the truck from the movie “Kill Bill”. That movie displays a woman taking revenge on those who tried to kill her. This music video follows the same formula, Gaga and Honey B will take revenge.
Honey B tells Gaga right away she’s been a “very bad girl”. I think that’s a tongue-in-cheek way of referencing her musician career as an outspoken artist. They also talk about two jokes. “Once you kill a cow, you gotta to make a burger” and “Trust is like a mirror, you can fix it if it’s broke, but you can still see the crack in the mother-f**s reflection”. Both references to Quentin Tarantino’s method of writing screenplays. Also, it means, to commit to something and trust, once broken, will always show in a person.
They both end up in a cafe, where they both put poison in honey and in the food at the restaurant, thus killing the boyfriend and everyone in the restaurant. The boyfriend shows his sexist behavior, by getting up, slapping girls on the butt, arguing with people and taking all of Honey B’s honey. Which I think represents money. The revenge in Gaga’s Bad Romance music video, is continued in this music video, further blending femininity and masculinity by making women the killers, taking revenge and being violent, which is usually known as a masculine trait.
Beyonce also furthers the blurring of the lines when you see her dressed as a soldier in her bedroom. After everyone is thoroughly dead, Gaga and Honey B are dressed in American grab and begin a big dance number. This scene is showing the freedom of Americans, that things can change, and also mocks the absurdity of the situation.
One of the reporters, is one of the guys from the previously popular TV show “Queer Eye for the Straight Eye”, another nod to the gay community.
In the end, Gaga and Honey B drive away, looking like widows, in a Thelma & Louise style, further asserting their femininity, and the last thing you see is the female symbol ending the scene.
A lot of messages in this music video, some very blatant and some you need to read into a little bit, but definitely very interesting and something different from music videos in the past.