It’s been a number of years since the whole world was talking about a music video clip as much as they have been GaGa’s “Telephone”. And whilst it may not exactly have anything on the superior “Bad Romance” video before it, it still offers up a whole lot more than almost any video clip being force-fed to us today, let alone the last few years.
We seem to be living in the age where music videos are an event once again, or, rather, and perhaps more specifically to the point, Lady GaGa’s videos are now an event. It’s something it seems everyone is interested in seeing; to the fans, the casual music listener, even the haters and people who listen to “real (boring) music”. The “real music” listeners watch it with gusto so they can bitch and moan later about how awful it and pop music is and why we should treat all pop stars like Hitler treated the Jews. In order to make such outlandish claims like this to match their super-tight black jeans and matching Libertines t-shirt, they’ve got to see the film clip so it looks like they have some kind of Indie leg to stand on during arguments with people like me about the video. At the end of the day though, they’ve sat down and watched that video clip, knowing full well they’re going to hate it. How long has it been since a pop star has been able to achieve that, and on a global level? You have to give GaGa kudos for that alone.
The near-10-minute epic extravaganza is, from the horses mouth, a social commentary on the American obsession with consumerism. But there’s some wild pop culture references sprinkled throughout too that are more than worthy of being mentioned. The use of Uma Thurman’s stolen ‘Pussy Wagon’ from Kill Bill was a direct loan to GaGa from Quentin Tarantino and drives the obvious mark Tarantino’s movies made on GaGa throughout the spliced-up-wonderment of “Telephone”, Beyonce’s nickname of “Honey Bee” also being a reference to “Honey Bunny” from Pulp Fiction, to the leopard-skin costume worn toward the end which seems to pay direct homage to the movies of John Waters and his cross-dressing star Divine.
The clip seems to have strum up some controversy, MTV have actually banned the video. Everything from the ‘lesbian’ kiss, a censored snapshot of GaGa’s Vadge and the death of an entire diner all playing a part. But that hasn’t stopped the drove of millions logging onto YouTube every day to watch it in high definition on their computers. The only thing MTV have really been relevant for in the last 5 years has – let’s face it – been “The Hills”, and the fact that they’ve banned the music video, in the digital age we live in now, means fuck-all what it used to back when artists NEEDED MTV to show their clips. It’s not detrimental any more and I find it funny how the media have, naturally, jumped all over the banning like it is of some actual relevance.
As for the video itself, obviously I really like it. The real surprise is just how much of a great actress Beyonce really is; she obviously follows instruction incredibly well – every scene she is in – absolute gold. This video has made her instantly more likeable to those of us who’ve perhaps been a little unimpressed by her output of late. She completely got it; there’s nothing that comes across as forced from her either which only adds to the charm of this video.
Kudos to Jonas Akerlund, the director, for doing such a stellar job too. There are moments, in particular when Beyonce is in a bedroom, alone, and GaGa in her jail cell, where the special effects and – to a point – even the placement of things around the room remind me very heavily of this Madonna video, also directed by Akerlund. Some might say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I actually enjoyed seeing Beyonce’s head being twisted to-and-fro ala Madonna in “The Beast Within.”
Some criticism has been made that the clip has nothing to do with the actual song. And whilst I agree to a point that it’s a little disappointing, it’s certainly not as disappointing as it would have been had we been given some stock-standard boring video clip set in a nightclub. I’m falling asleep just thinking about it now.
It might be an over-the-top vanity affair here, but who cares? Why are we lashing out at Pop Stars – of all people – for being vain if this is the kind of final product we’re going to get from them? Maybe there’s a line blurred with the degree of Vanity GaGa puts forward in her work and the degree of vanity every other pop star puts forward that people just can’t quite differentiate between. Luckily for them, it doesn’t look like GaGa’s going anywhere anytime soon so, perhaps, they’ll get to see that line for themselves and finally get it.
Whether you love her or hate her, love the clip or despise it, chances are you’ve seen it in full by now, and you’ve probably seen it more than once too. Anyhow, why not watch it again?