Reviews

Sleeping with the Enema: Lady Gaga – “Bad Romance”

Lady Gaga Bad Romance

Our innocence is immediately shattered two seconds into the video, when we are presented with all of these oddly-clad people gathered in formation at one end of a white room. For those who know movie history, think Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut” crossed with any movie that Ken Russell ever directed. (For those who don’t know their movie trivia, think “recreational drugs”.) No one looks very happy, and we seem to have a lot of uncomfortable bondage gear going on, but this doesn’t stop them from posing artfully for the latest defiant cover of Vanity Fair.

We zoom in on Gaga, who has naturally been placed in the center of this tableau of people who have probably been banned at least once on Facebook. She’s not looking at us, because she doesn’t have to, instead staring off to the side whilst sporting cryptic glasses that completely block her vision. (This is what rich people do, buy things that serve no purpose, just because they can and we can’t.) The camera closes in on one of her hands, with her fingers sporting a weird chicken-wire nail polish that you aren’t going to find at Walgreen’s. She pushes a button on what looks like a wireless modem at NASA, and then all hell breaks loose.

We are suddenly in a room full of these odd pod things (tanning beds? incubators for the Gaga army that is about to take over the world?) scattered about, while brief images of alcohol bottles flash on the screen. It’s too dark in this room for my comfort level, and there seems to be a Gestapo-esque searchlight seeking out uprisings that must be quelched. Then a helpful title appears explaining that this is the “Bath Haus of Gaga”. Really? I never even want to go there and I’ve only seen ten seconds of it. Please take me off your mailing list. Thanks.

But before I can add the “Haus” to my spam filter, the pods suddenly open and some surprising things crawl out. They appear to be somewhat humanoid, in that remote way that Tea Party members also appear to be humanoid, even though their life choices clearly indicate that they are not. These crawlers are sheathed in white latex, including their faces, and the tops of their heads have white spiky things, as if Bart Simpson has been dipped in a marshmallow vat. The crawlers, despite being unable to see due to the unexplained plastic coating, immediately hop up and start doing a line dance, with Lady once again assuming the focal point in the center of this shin-dig. (Well, I’m assuming it’s her, because we sure as hell don’t spend any time on the other pod people.)

Then we zip over to another random room, where someone has helpfully placed a bathtub, within which Lady is exhibiting an Annie Lennox-on-acid hairdo and proving that she is very limber by basically throwing her leg over her head. But before we can ask what return-on-investment she might be seeking by doing such, we cut to another room in this apparently cavernous Haus. We now have Lady dressed in black and singing to herself in a mirror, wearing a black spiky hat that sort of matches the headgear of the dancing pod people. Does this mean she’s a bad pod person? Or is she late for a funeral, a tragic death that occurred when one of the tanning pods became disconnected during intergalactic travel?

I guess it doesn’t matter, because now we have a montage cutting between the three scenarios: the line-dancing white pod people, the Lady wallowing around in the bathtub, and the Lady that just wants to look at herself in the mirror (and possibly tend to the needs of her lady garden, based on what her barely off-camera hand is doing). This montage goes on for a while, longer than the political careers of Republican candidates who don’t immediately agree to sell their souls.

Side Note: That quick shot where Bathtub Lady is looking off to the side and then rolls her head forward and does the thing with her eyes? It’s freaky but fun, which basically sums up Lady Gaga’s entire career arc, and it’s my favorite bit in this video crammed full of images designed to impress you with the fact that Lady Gaga’s life is obviously way more exciting than your own.

Just as we kick into the chorus (I guess it’s the chorus; it’s hard to tell with Lady Gaga songs) two rude women break into the Hygiene Annex and try to drag Bathing Lady out of the ginormous bathtub. (She just wants to be clean, people, let her scrub the dirtiness away if she wants to do so. We’ve all been there, don’t judge.) Gaga puts up a fight, but eventually the bitter duo wrest Gaga away from the soothing waters of her own self-involvement. To show their displeasure with her uncooperative attitude, the Gulag Girls rip Lady’s blouse off in a Cinemax-worthy moment of pointless plot.

(Yes, Bathtub Gaga was bathing whilst clothed. Just accept and go on, as there’s really no point in questioning reality once the dancing white pod-people slithered out of the Easy Bake ovens and we didn’t change the channel.) To show her displeasure with the matrons’ rudeness and the rending of her garment, Lady then thrusts her breasts at the interlopers in a moment of mammary insurrection, making this an official catfight. The matrons then up the ante by forcing Bathtub Lady to drink some mysterious clear liquid that she probably would have imbibed on her own if there hadn’t been all this bullying behavior.

Next up, we have another version of Lady Gaga, this one surprisingly free of avant-garde outfits and confusing accessories. This Gaga seems to be channeling Belinda Carlisle during that phase when she broke free from the Go-Gos and the drug-ingesting, wandering about on a windswept beach and looking for love in all the wrong sandy places. She’s acting all emo and emotionally-fragile. Is this Vulnerable Gaga? Does such a thing exist?

While Belinda Gaga braves windburn and possible grit in her cracks, we get yet another version of Lady Gaga, or maybe this is one we’ve already seen. (It’s getting very confusing; I’m still mystified by Grieving Gaga at the Self-Pleasure Mirror.) This Gaga is sporting some baggy outerwear covered in graffiti, indicating that unsupervised inner-city juveniles may have broken into the Bath Haus at some point, tagging things with malicious intent. (This is not an indictment of all inner-city youth, as stereotypes are bad, but it is an indictment of lazy parents who allow their children to obtain paint-propellants and then look the other way when those children sneak out at night.)

Whatever the case, some rude go-go booted women rip off Gaga’s social-outcry garment in a manner that suggests the booted women did not go to the proper schools. Once the raincoat is sent asunder, we see that this version of Gaga is sporting skimpy beaded thingies that really don’t do much to obscure her baseline anatomy. (I’ve seen better coverage issued by people selling auto insurance out of the back of a taco stand.) The rude, manners-deficient booted women snatch up Lady and her indiscreet snatch and haul her into a room filled with men who appear to have had plastic surgery that somehow involved metal plates being used instead of, well, plastic.

For no apparent reason whatsoever, Barely-Beaded Gaga and her unrequited cohorts suddenly start line-dancing for the Metal Men. (They were in a catfight two seconds ago, but a whiff of testosterone in the room causes all of them to have an interest in synchronized choreography?) While this mess is going on, we get shots of another Gaga, or maybe an extra, don’t know, who is nude and looking really undernourished. I think she’s trying to get clean, since she appears to be having an emotional moment in a public shower stall at either a health club or a high-school gym (we’ve all been there, right?), but I don’t really see any water. Whatever she’s doing, she’s very skinny, and she might possibly have a tail that people generally shouldn’t have.

Beaded Gaga and the Gaga-Ettes continue to line dance for the Metal Men, eventually ending up on their knees crawling toward said men while Gaga sings “I want your love.” That’s great for the self-esteem, crawling up to a standoffish group of males, begging for their affection. Do these women realize they can actually vote these days? Or is Gaga making a political statement about the possible future if we don’t stop letting rich, white, amoral men run our country? (Despite the obvious ease with which Gaga shares her physical wares with the world, she’s got far more depth and comprehension than 99% of the automatons who tune into Fox News on a daily basis, paralytic drool running down their chins.)

Oh wait, it turns out that these men are actually bidding to “win” Lady Gaga, as we can now see by the voting results on convenient laptops off to one side. (At first, I thought Lady Gaga was just obnoxiously showing her sky-rocketing profits. I had to rewind.) One of the guys apparently wins, but first the women have to do another line dance. Not sure why. Maybe it’s protocol, a bit of contractual procedure included in the “Bath Haus” brochure for folks who purchase the Platinum Package.

It’s a long line dance. While this is going on, we get jump scenes of Lady Gaga in lots of other outfits. (The wardrobe expenses on this video must have been enormous.) We have Gaga in black bra and panties, standing still in a frozen spray of ice cubes while the camera circles around her. (A perceptive take on the sterility of certain men?) There’s Gaga in some type of metal gear where I think she’s explaining the solar system. (Sorry, Pluto, you don’t matter anymore. Here’s the business card for a really good galaxy therapist.)

And then we have Gaga in this golden outfit that is totally out there, with a hairdo that looks like she has a loaf of bread shoved up in that mess and making her look like Gary Oldman in Francis Ford Coppola’s version of “Dracula”. My guess is that most of the fashion budget went right there, although it’s entirely possible that Gaga already owned this ensemble, something she picked up at a flea market in another dimension where couture is vaguely reptilian and purposeless.

Eventually we get to the soul-challenging part of our story where Gaga has to go… sleep? trade outfits?… with the guy who bought her. And we start jump-cutting all over the place. We revisit almost all of the Gagas in their various incarnations, and there’s a new batch of line dancers, this time dressed in skimpy red Ace bandages but just as flexible as the other teams. (Gaga is right there in the midst of the Crimson Brigade, natch, completely unafraid to frolic about energetically despite the merest wisp of material barely concealing her nocturnal portal.)

As Purchased Gaga approaches the bed where the winner/misogynist is waiting, she apparently uses her mystical powers to set the bed on fire. Wouldn’t you? (I hope Metal Guy bought the maintenance plan for this product, because I don‘t think the regular warranty is going to cover destruction of high-end bedding. It would be a shame if low-level employees at this establishment are fired because the hotel owners now have to fund a messy civil lawsuit.) The jump-cutting to all the Gagas intensifies, but mostly focuses on the red line dancers where Ace Bandage Gaga has picked up yet another hairdo somewhere along the way.

Final scene has one of the Gagas (I have no idea at this point) lounging in the scorched bed. Her purchaser is now just smoking bones, but Gaga seems to be fine, other than the disturbing impression that her breasts appear to be short-circuiting. (Don’t you hate it when that happens?) The camera slowly pans backwards while a snippet of classical music plays, yet another tribute to film-making, and another reminder that Lady Gaga is all about The Art.

Lesson learned? Take a bath at home. You’ll be glad you did. There’s no need to bathe in a public setting, because it will just lead to singing, dancing, clone replication, and death by fire.

 

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Originally published on 12/03/09, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.)

 

I Kissed a Zebra and I Liked It: Katy Perry – “Hot N Cold”

Katy Perry Hot N Cold

We find ourselves at a church wedding, where Katy is about to get married to someone that we have never seen before, so our investment is minimal at this point. (For the record, her near-future spouse appears to be about 12 years old, so there might be some issues here that have been swept under the anointed rug.) The music hasn’t started yet, so we’re not yet sure if this is supposed to be an artsy sequence or if someone forgot to turn the sound on. But one of the bridesmaids is a drag queen, so I’m thinking things will perk up in a bit.

Looking innocent and glowing, Katie and her mascara-doused eyes say “I do”. Then it’s time for her beau (whose name is Alexander, which is probably the least important detail in the whole story) to make his own commitment. Alexander and his adolescent skin pause for a very long time, eyes furtive and throat gulping. (We get reaction shots of concerned people around the church, eyebrows raised and mouths gaping. Even the little flower girl is looking at him like, dude, we just practiced this last night, before all the big people got drunk while I had to go stay with my one aunt who has too many cats.)

When it becomes clear that he’s having second thoughts (which might be the first time that he’s ever had more than one thought), the music finally kicks in and the whole church starts to boogie as Katy launches into her accusatory song. (This is a perfect reflection of the modern generation, turning an uncomfortable moment into yet another opportunity to perform a line dance instead of working through the problem.) Katy, who should be emotionally devastated, has no problem dissing the scumbag who was her true beloved just two minutes ago, warbling and hand-gesturing her way through the first part of the song.

As we get to the chorus, Alexander-Boy makes a break for it and runs down the aisle, not so much that he’s afraid of Katy but more that he wants to get away from old people trying to break dance. Since Katy clearly isn’t finished with her song, she has no choice but to chase after him, dashing out the front door of the church in her oddly-athletic wedding dress and running down the sidewalk. Since this is Hollywood, where ill-advised marriage ceremonies take place all the time, the pedestrians on the street ignore the commotion and keep searching for the sushi restaurant which promises to be trendy for at least two more days.

As Katy and the giant bow she is wearing clatters along behind him, Alexander rounds a corner and slams into a man dressed as a hot dog. I don’t know what message was intended by this little mishap, but I’m glad it happened. People dressed as food are creepy, and they should be knocked to the ground whenever possible. (Two wafer-thin D-list actresses attempt to assist the Downed Dog in his predicament, which is probably not the first time they’ve handled a strange wiener on a public thoroughfare.)

Katy realizes she’s getting nowhere fast in her pinchy high heels, so she steals a pink bike conveniently left near the violated hot dog man. After a tense moment wherein a stack of watermelons is rudely disturbed, Katy catches up to Alexander as he slips in the back door of some building. (There are no signs to indicate where we are, so either the budget was very low or the prop people were drunk again.)

It turns out that Alexander has stumbled into one of those nightclubs where people inexplicably jump up and down in rapture while a no-name group performs a no-name song that will never be performed again because the entire band will check into the Betty Ford clinic the next morning. The people in the audience immediately grab Alexander and crowd-surf him toward the stage where, in an astonishing example of illogical plotting, Katy is standing there with a microphone, bellowing more of the song. The wedding dress is gone, and she’s now decked out in some retro-80s vinyl and metal gear. We keep getting close-up shots of Katy’s quadruple-belted waist. No idea why.

Understandably, Alexander is not particularly impressed with this development, apparently just wanting to have a quick gin and juice with 500 of his non-closest friends in a bar dripping with regret and bad choices. He struggles to get away from the anonymous hands hoisting him asunder, while Katy continues her mid-grade channeling of Debbie Harry onstage, and he eventually slips out a door that leads to who knows where. (Just like marriage!)

Actually, it seems that the door leads to another round of the chorus, taking place in some studio backlot where they really didn’t spend a lot of time on the set-decorating. Katy has morphed into her wedding dress once again, accompanied by several backup dancers also dressed as trampy brides who found their dresses in the discount section of the Victoria’s Really Bad Secret catalogue. They all have really runny mascara, and they are waving baseball bats to the beat, sure signs of the Apocalypse. While Katy stands in the front seat of an unexplained convertible, the dancers do some crappy moves involving the alarming bats and a lot of finger pointing.

At some obscure cue from the director, Katy and her entourage all converge on Alexander, and Katy sings vehemently in his face while the dancers march in a big circle around the duo, with the bridal nymphets making what looks like rude hand gestures expressing extreme displeasure. Obviously, nobody lost any sleep over whether this choreography made any sense.

In another time-jump within the logic spectrum, all of the slatternly bridal dancers manage to find some matching pink bikes, with everybody straddling one, looking all demonic and wobbly, barreling toward the clueless and clearly typecast Alexander. He runs for his life, or at least for another bar, but he suddenly stops to answer his cell phone. Like any reasonable person would do when being chased by estrogen on wheels.

Naturally, it’s Katy on Alex’s phone, because nothing can stop a woman who wants her revenge served as cold as it can be. Apparently home boy has a really good data plan with his provider, because there Katy is in high-res living color, wailing away in her veil-accented bid for attention. (Katy does her best acting here, really loved the hand motion during the “roller coaster” line. As for Alexander’s acting? I’ve seen better emotion from a crock pot. I hope he has a Plan B or a financially-sound trust fund.)

Alexander finally hangs up, because you can’t really protect yourself from she-demons whilst perusing social media. He runs some more, then he turns a corner onto a sound stage that’s supposed to look like, I don’t know, a not-so-classy playground in the Bronx. Katy and all the backup dancers are now sporting the latest street-wear from a designer that nobody will remember tomorrow. To soften this awkward transition, Katy sings the next bit of the lyrics in a sedate whisper fashion, but we’re distracted by the fact that her eyeshadow matches the color of the leftover prop from Burning Man in the background, circa 2003.

Still, all the dancers seem to be having fun in this segment, all gussied up in their vibrant outfits and doing lots of dance moves that seemed important at the time. It’s almost relaxing, after the frenzied intensity of the preceding scenes, like a back-alley yoga class where they serve Pabst Beer instead of chai tea.

Then all hell breaks loose as we start jump-cutting all over the place. The bride dancers show back up, doing something confusing in a V-formation. (And, natch, Katy is right in the middle of that V, waving her arms and bellowing, although it does seem that Katy went to a different school than the other girls.) We also have some mess going on with small children hula-hooping like their lives depended on it. (Perhaps a few people on the production staff were having issues finding proper child care and they just threw them in the video to keep them occupied?)

If you don’t blink, you’ll also catch two women doing something on roller skates, but the duo is easy to miss because they’re competing with Katy doing The Running Man in her Daisy Duke bridal gown (or what’s left of it). And in the background of some of the scenes, behind chain link fences, we apparently have people auditioning for the role of Zombie #23 on “The Walking Dead”. It’s as if the director gave up on having any smidge of control on this shoot and went to go have a bagel with a shmear, telling his assistant to call him when people stopped bouncing or there was a pregnancy scare.

The “song” part of this shindig ends with Alexander either tripping over something or being shoved to the ground by an unknown assailant. (Perhaps the Hot Dog Man put out a hit on the Pretty Boy? It wouldn’t be the first time such a thing has happened in Hollywood.) In any case, Alexander ends up flat on his back with his legs spread wide (Also not a first for Hollywood.) As he glances up in confusion, Katy, looking very maniacal in her Mary Lou Retton-on-acid gymnastics outfit, comes walking up with a zebra while a rainbow fills the sky behind her.

Suddenly, we’re back in the church, and Alexander does a dramatic blink, the first time he has actually exhibited any thespian qualities. Looks like the last four minutes were due to a poorly-timed narcolepsy episode, none of it really happening, and everyone in the church is still waiting for Alexander to say his “I do”. Dripping in sweat and forever traumatized by imagery of the Hot Dog Man and the Body Surfing and the Zombie Brides and the hula-hooping and the soul-killing Zebra, Alexander quickly agrees to be bound to this woman through sickness and health and possible stays in mental institutions.

The whole church erupts in cheers, especially on the Bride’s side of the matrimonial divide, because Katy is now HIS problem and everyone else can get on with their lives. The happy couple then runs down the “Price Is Right” red-carpeted aisle, Katy waving her neurotic bouquet, on their way to their first therapy session…

 

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Originally published on 09/26/09, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.