Music Video Review
By our guest blogger, Nick Hanover
I bet once or twice you've asked yourself, "Self, what exactly would a hybridization of Legend, Dune and 2001: A Space Odyssey look like? Better yet, "Self, what would it look like with Lady Gaga at the center?" Well Self, your answer is all here in Lady Gaga's most recent, most hilarious attempt at high art in "Born This Way."
Even by Gaga standards, "Born This Way" is monumentally pretentious. Outside of the video's stunted aesthetic, full of every piece of retro throwback iconography you can think of (unicorns, triangles, cubes, um, beehive hairdos), you have its opening sequence, which goes through a checklist of wankery. There's the high-falutin' narration that references intergalactic races and rebirths, then there's the literal rebirth as Lady Gaga actually gives birth to herself not once but twice. The first birth is done through trick photography, including lens swipes and kaleidoscopes, but there's still the matter of Gaga's face being covered in embryonic fluids. The second one...well, I prefer to block that one from my memory altogether for fear of being struck down by night terrors.
Anyway, it's all just meant as a distraction from what is Lady Gaga's most blatant bid for Madonna's throne yet, since "Born This Way" is essentially a 21st century update on "Express Yourself." As far as I can figure, the only difference is Madonna had the good sense to have David Fincher direct her video and keep her clad in smart pant suits while a German Expressionist set caught the viewers' eyes until the mighty cone bra made its appearance. Meanwhile, Lady Gaga chooses to dispense with all that foreplay and just get straight to the birthing vaginas, phallic guns and dance numbers done in underwear.
Lady Gaga's smartest move remains her devotion to making the most crazy and pretentious of videos as an effort to disguise the otherwise bland, rehashed elements of her music. I don't fault Gaga at all for choosing style over substance and recognizing that she needn't worry about being a totally mediocre songwriter and singer when she can just make her image the product instead of the music itself. Gaga recognizes that consumers want spectacle above all else and she gives it to them, never mind the fact that she's basically just stealing from people who are much more talented than her.
The obvious takeaway of that last statement, of course, is that she's by no means the first or the last to do this. In fact, if you wanted to be really clever, you could point out that Madonna herself is pretty much guilty of the same thing. Except for one small little difference: Madonna's skill has always been in her ability to merge trends and be ahead of the curve. True, she can't sing or write, but Madonna's true cultural importance is her genius talent for staying way ahead of pop culture. If you're looking for a new Madonna I can tell you with certainty that it's M.I.A. not Gaga, but since M.I.A. tends to mostly keep her clothes on, I guess she'll remain second fiddle as far as the public's concerned.
Video the video below. Thoughts?