Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lady Gaga Symbolism and video analysis

It is no secret that I'm a Lady Gaga fan. I loved her concert and had such a fantastic time with James. I continue to love Gaga and what she does...

Part of my fascination with her is her music videos, aside from the fact they are so different than anything that is out there, a lot of the contents of her videos are social critiques, which is typical of performance artists who often critique various events in society in their work.

Before I start I have to say that Lady Gaga's new video Telephone surprised me. I knew there was a lot of hype surrounding it, so it was going to be big, but this was BIG, EPIC perhaps. I pictured the video being something about what was described in the song, a club scene, which could have been portrayed easily, and I'm sure would have been done in typical Gaga style, but this was different and great, too.

Lady Gaga said herself on E Entertainment that it is a critique of issues in society. I remember analyzing videos in AP English 11 and 12, and talking about hidden meanings/messages, as well as taking many film classes, and discussing hidden meanings/symbolism, so this was up my alley. Here are a few of the things I saw when I watched it. Yes, I have analyzed all of her videos. Maybe I'm crazy. I just love that there are perhaps so many hidden messages in her videos. I love all of the possible social critiques/possible meanings in this video. Some of the symbolism is just awesome.

Here's some of the topics I noticed in the video that could be argued about in the video:
- Jail scene- where Paparazzi left off perhaps- remember in the video paparazzi Lady Gaga just killed her boyfriend
- Friendships: the strong friendship between Gaga and Beyonce
- Strong female friendships- girl power! Society often talks about girl power and girls are better than boys!
- Lesbianism?
- Females do not need to be subservient to the male, hence Beyonce and Gaga poisoning Tyrese and other men in the diner/strong female figures shown in the prison/ the line "I told you she didn't have a dick" (1:12)/ leather bondage gear shows female as masculine figures
- Gaga put to rest all of the rumors she is a guy or hermaphrodite (1:12)
- Cigarette glasses (1:27) - Drugs in prison, burning people up (killing them)?
- A critique on female prisoners?
- The brutality in the prison system (female prisoners beating up on one another)
- The prevalence of prison in our society
- The "ugliness" in prisons- those weren't necessarily the hottest looking people
- Butch guards (:30), were they male?
- Coke cans in Gaga's hair- coke the drug in prisons and its prevalence, how people try to sneak things into the prisons
- (1:38) Lady Gaga bound in chains symbolizes people being bound in prison
- Female sexiness- there is something sexy about the dancing (starting about 3:25)
- Police tape around 4:10 could symbolize danger, dangers prisoners face, danger these people are to society as Gaga is wrapped in police tape
- (4:27) plenty of fish dating showing the prevalence of online dating
- (5:05) animalistic nature how Gaga takes a bite of that food Beyonce has in her hand.
- (5:20-5:30) Beyonce talking with Gaga about trust, showing how perhaps a man did her wrong, cheated perhaps, which is a common problem in society
- Females are objectified by men (6:00-15)- the way the camera zooms in on Beyonce's assets, slapping one of the females ass
- Pussy Wagon- can mean a homosexual activity
- Pussy Wagon- from Kill Bill- a pop culture reference
- Poison in the kitchen (7:05) talking about unsanitary conditions, perhaps the poison in the food relating to fast food or mass produced food?
- Setting is a cafeteria, and cafeteria can have a negative connotation. Would you choose to eat at a cafeteria or a restaurant?
- The bad things workers do to food (a much more intense play on the server spitting in the food?)
- (7:09) One of the ingredients is rat poison, which again could be used to discuss the unsanitary conditions in restaurants/cafeterias
- (7:04) "Poison TV" logo- does TV poison you and the mind?
- (7:07) White powdery substance with a danger logo- perhaps salt, perhaps coke? Who knows, but it is something dangerous. If it is salt you can talk about the extra sodium that is typically found in mass produced food that is used to preserve it.
- (7:10-20) Men are pigs- Tyrese eats his food quickly and sloppily
- (7:27-35) Beyonce says, "I knew you took all of my honey you selfish mother******" - Beyonce is seen as pure and wholesome. She is a relatively good influence one can argue and kids can idolize, so she was bleeped out, which is more pure than Gaga who during the scene where she was riding in the Pussy Wagon said motherfucker
- (7:27-:35) Honey could mean money?
- (7:35) Beyonce pulls out the same mouse glasses Gaga has in the Paparazzi video after she killed her boyfriend, so in essence Beyonce is doing the same thing.
- (7:32) Gaga's nails are painted with a flag design, which can denote patriotism
- Beyonce's yellow dress is a relatively pure color
- Wonderwoman like outfits in the scene following the diner, showing female power
- (7:30-8:00) Dead people- poison perhaps from drugs (the prevalence of drugs in society), or the danger of mass produced cafeteria-style food
- the lyric "stop telelphoning me" could represent how women do not need to be bound to their husbands or boyfriends
- (8:15-8:30) Beyonce is using a corded telephone in the bedroom, which could show some nostalgia
- (8:46-55) Breaking News scene where Gaga and Beyonce are fleeing the scene- critique about news and how it is about suspects and bad people - News is often about crime stories
- (9:15) Female bond, women are strength when they join hands at the end

I'm not saying any of this is true, I'm not saying I believe all of this, I'm just merely analyzing, which I enjoy doing. You may say I'm crazy or overanalyzing, and sure, I'll buy that, but I just like it more after doing it... haha. I'm also not saying you have to agree with all of my thoughts. I am not necessarily saying I agree with every idea I threw out.

But I guess what I'm also trying to say is there is so much in this video! Like did you see Gaga's telephone-do at about 7:00-7:15?

Anybody else find any other symbols?


Anonymous said...

The amount of product placement was ridiculous.

It felt like I was watching a commercial for Virgin Mobile and other junk and not a real music video.

rlp340 said...

It felt more like a short movie clip then a music video. It was good - although I do agree the product placement did become a bit much at times.

If I had to take away one thought on the music video it seems to be more of a "women breaking away from the man" concept. Almost all of her music videos concern female sexuality on some level - its like the Madonna idea - I'm here, I'm a woman, and I'm sexier than you - get over it. Woman's sexual liberation concept?

Wasn't she originally sponsored by someone that broke her into the music business? It's maybe her version of "breaking" away from him or her.

Definitely agree with:
-Gaga put to rest all of the rumors she is a guy or hermaphrodite (1:12)
- Female sexiness- there is something sexy about the dancing (starting about 3:25)

Amy said...

I wouldn't say that you were overanalyzing at all - i would consider that the constant product placement (such as virgin, the dating website, Coca-cola) is also a comment and critique on how our culture is utterly driven and obsessed with commercialism. And that this form of society, this way of life is shallow and insubstansial (hence the use of a cafeteria rather than a restaurant as you indicated, as a cafe is a cheap sub-standard version). Gaga is also showing that this culture is killing us, through the deaths of the customers, and that it takes strength and courage, a move away from what society has come to demand is the norm in order to survive - as symbolised by Gaga and Beyonce escaping from the police (who signify order, submission and cultural uniformity).
Furthermore the patriarchal aspect of society is shown as the men are endorsing this lifestyle while women who are not necessarily perfect (as you said they are not all stunning)and have strength (shown by masculine clothing) are supressed by the men. This bondage, the male desire to force women to conform is shown by Gaga's imprisonment, her being tied up in chains and police tape (note the link here again with the police standing for subservience to the masses - she is trapped by cultural expectation)and the male wish to alter women and make them see the world as they do is encapsulated by the comment that it is a shame she does not have a 'dick'. This comment has homosexual connotations, perhaps reflected that each gender feels safe with their own as is shown with the lesbianism in jail and the partnership between Gaga and Beyonce.
This partnership, standing together and supporting your own is demonstrated as something that should be idealised by society, as they appear (as you pointed out) to be superheroes - a metaphor which is further indicated by the comicbook style of the video. And yet this has a multiple reading - they are heroes, but of the cartoon variety (Gaga even dresses and styles her hair like a cartoon character) therefore demonstrating that while society should admire these qualities, this courage, it in fact mocks it, tries to make it appear impossible and 2D.

Aek said...

Was that a cafeteria? I thought it looked more like a diner than anything. o_O

Compared to her other music vids, this one made more sense and was probably easier to "analyze," lol. I still don't get Bad Romance. Then again, I don't even try. :-P

Anonymous said...

I think the main message in this song is really nothing to do with anything as obvious or mundane as typical social problems like prison, drugs or mass produced food. The video is heavily laden with illuminati symbolism and free-masonry. For example...Beyonce is referred to as HoneyBee. A common thread in illuminati symbolism, especially in the music industry, is the hierarchy. Beyonce is being portrayed as 'The Queen Bee' and the very pinnacle of the music industry's hierachal pyramid. As the Queen Bee, she is dressed in yellow with black tresses and eyeliner. Her nail polish is symbolic of having America at her fingertips, being able to control the young people of her country with subliminal symbolism. It is interesting to note that something as pure and sweet as honey can be used to poison...think about Beyonce's pure and sweet image poisoning popular culture. Beyonce is in control of the car and has the power to free Gaga from jail, once again highlighting her power over someone who is less experienced in the industry and who is still going through the Illuminati initiation process. Gaga and Beyonce consistently make a circle with their index finger and thumb, while holding their other three fingers up in the 666 formation. This is also in reference to the all seeing eye or the evil eye. Using modern logos such as Virgin Mobile, Diet Coke et cetera, is a product plug but also a sign that these products might be involved in the Illuminati. Pepsi recently changed the design on plastic wrappers on their bottles to include the symbols of the all-seeing eye, Egyptian hieroglyphs,etc etc.At the end of the video Gaga and Beyonce are dressed like the witch from the Wizard of Oz in respective black and white echoing the well-known black and white chequered floors associated with masonic halls. The Wizard of Oz was filled with Illuminati symbolism and insinuation.

Gaga and Beyonce are going much deeper here than simple social problems.There are so many hidden messages, too many to list here. But note when Gaga is in the kitchen prepping food she appears to be mouthing a word that on close inspection seems to be played in reverse..'Natas...Natas...Natas'...what could it possibly be???!!!!

Look again.

Mike said...

Anonymous, RLP340, and Amy: I didn't realize all of the product placement, but there was a lot from the Wonder Bread to the Virgin Mobile etc. etc. etc.

rlp340: You're right about the element of female sexuality in all of her videos

Aek: I'll send you an IM soon and educate you on my thoughts about Bad Romance.

Amy and Anonymous: I enjoyed your commentaries! Thanks!

Phunk Factor said...

GaGa said that with such a commercial song where everything is on the surface, she wanted the video to be something deep....but with all mini-movie thingie going on nowadays I really didn't get the vibe of the song!!

The video is cool no doubt BUT 'Bad Romance' was nothing like this....that was pure fire!!!

Alambic38 said...

Wow! Thank you for this objective inventory of the symbolism involved in that music video instead of focusing on a small range of chosen symbols with the sole goal of making people believe biased facts about Lady Gaga. I don't like much her music but I agree with the fact that her videos have a second degree. As art, her videos express something, which one "hears" while watching her videos and is triggered to ask oneself questions and drive from it personal formative conclusions.

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