After the epic, symbolism-laden video for "Bad Romance," it would be a vast understatement to say that fans were excited for Lady Gaga's next clip — "Telephone," featuring Beyoncé. Anticipation was high. But the video? Ugh, where do we begin?
It sucks. I love her, but it sucks. You can't analyze the subtext like in "Bad Romance." "Telephone" is disjointed, self-indulgent, with jumbled, random references, poor pacing, wince-inducing acting and a strange, pro-woman, anti-man message. Oh, and it's ten fucking minutes long.
Don't get me wrong: Homegirl looks fierce.
I'm a fan of the cigarette glasses, from which smoke emanates. The dress is Viktor & Rolf.
I already got the headphones, okay? Stop selling them to me!
I don't even know who or what this is about.
More product placement. Later there's a Polaroid in the car, for no reason other than Lady Gaga just signed a deal with Polaroid.
Natali Germanotta, Gaga's sister.
But see: The video doesn't go with the song. The song is about being getting phonecalls when you're out clubbing and not wanting to have a conversation on the dancefloor. Where does a high-fashion women's prison come in? Maybe someone watched Reform School Girls recently? Unfortunately, the video doesn't have any great lines like, "You're just a shit stain on the panties of life."
There are way too many crotch shots — not that I'm going to write an irate letter. It's just repetitive and, well, boring. Also, the dancing is okay, but not Chicago.
Yes, that is Quentin Tarantino's Pussy Wagon, from Kill Bill. Now True/Slant's Japhy Grant thinks that the video is about Southern California — from the starlets in prison to the female bodybuilders to the roadside diner. And maybe even the heavy, winged eyeliner has that SoCal vibe. But the video seems to be style over substance. It looks like a bunch of disjointed images…
…And it gets worse when Beyoncé enters the picture. Her "acting" is embarrassing.
The video is supposed to be part 2 in a series which began with "Paparazzi," in which Gaga murdered Alexander Skarsgard. But the murder here isn't limited to Tyrese — almost all of the patrons in the diner die. Even the dog. The only people left are the ones dancing.
Obviously the video is dominated by strong women, lesbian-esque prison romps and Thelma & Lousie-style vengeance. Does that make it pro-woman? Maybe the poisoned honey is meant to represent how people gobble up sweet things — ideologies, material possessions, media — that are no good for them. Maybe the patriotic duds on Gaga and Beyoncé mean that they represent restless, destructive American youth. Maybe someone got a hold of a picture of Heda Hopper's 1947 Time Magazine cover.
All I know is I'm beginning to think I liked it better when the "message" was "Just Dance."
Related: Is Lady Gaga a Feminist or Isn't She? [Ms. Magazine]