Thursday, March 10, 2011
Monday, August 16, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
This is a response to here.
In Gaga's new video, the set of relations that comprise Gaga and the blatantly masculine, homosocial back-up dancers is highly referential, but not knowing the context of where she might have drawn a lot of her ideas, I want to just discuss it as it appears, on the most literal level. This is without reference to Madonna, fascism, etc. I think reading the video in terms of DADT is also not doing it a service; it may be about that, but to do that much extrapolation takes our attention away from what's actually happening, down to the level of mechanics between camera and dancer, Gaga and the men, in the piece.
Instead, Alejandro is, as it always is, about Gaga as artist and art object.
Gaga: technocrat, dominatrix, nun, abject body, ice queen. She is the only blond in a sea of black-headed men, the only woman, the only one with a voice. She is the odd one out; we jump back and forth from understanding it’s her gaze, her perspective, that counts—either through the emphasis of her seeing ability (the spectacles) or through the camera’s adoption of her perspective—and observing her in her various guises, dancing with the boys.
Again, the posedness, the almost artificially prominent bodies of the dancers, whose moves are as deliberate as Gaga’s; they are self-consciously unnatural in order to defamiliarize the viewer with their body formation (is it too gauche to say body-expression?).
The video has gotten publicity for Gaga stating that it is about her frustration for never being loved by the loyal gay men she knows. But it would be too easy to call Gaga the perpetual outsider, looking in, that this is about unrequited affection and rejection.
Gaga may be the odd one out, but she participates; the video highlights her inversion of traditional gendered positions. She possesses the traditionally male role of the viewer, the one whose desires shape the performance of the dancer. She observes the man writhing on top of her; he sits astride her, riding her perhaps in slightly altered (alterior?) performance; they are blatantly switched in perspective and accordingly nonreproductive in position. The very self-consciousness of the sexual performances, and the fact that they are on grey prison beds, suggests that the homosociality which Gaga’s video appears to be displaying (in simultaneous celebration and lament) is a put on, entirely a spectacle.
And here’s where my interpretation gets kinda crazy. Take it as you will.
The alternate homosociality and singular (self-flagellating) sexualities of the men belie the fact that these don’t exist but for Gaga’s viewing them, or Gaga’s view of them. But Gaga simultaneously doesn’t exist as she is in this video without them, because she is constant reaction toward, standing against; they are the ones propelling her skyward. In their black and blue-grey midst, she is the crimson and albino queen, the spot of homogenous white light.* To watch the beautifully choreographed dancers circle around Gaga, making her the center, one realizes she is the “heart” in her white and red... but an at-times sexless heart, her body appearing androgynous and slyly covered by crosses.
The homogenous “gays”—take this with a grain of salt, I don’t think they even have to be read as gay to qualify as Gaga’s army of Others—are those with whom Gaga’s body rejects reproductivity in terms of both a) children and b) dominant heteronormative bodily/sexual relations. These men are not representing relationships she wish she were having. The plurality of men supporting her, tossing her around, passing her back and forth, creates an alterior set of relations that is moving in and out of subjectivity: her relation to them is constantly deterritorialized and reterritorialized. Her subject position isn’t king, despite what the video appears to tell us, because of Gaga’s very ambiguous but real reliance on being the one desiring object within the crowd.
Gaga is simultaneously the narrating one and the one created by her narration; her body’s actions do not correspond with her narrative.
This why those beads go backward into her mouth, her orifice. As the desiring abstinent nun, her voice isn’t stopped up. It provides the soundtrack to the entire spectacle. But there’s a disjunct of her voice/her singing and her body. It’d be too easy to read this imagery as some sort of “regressive state” or “swallowing her words,” but I do think it’s important that she’s incorporating Christian/religious symbolism in her “body” [of work?].
To read this as a text about “teh gays” misses the point for me. Yes, it’s about homosociality and gendered relations, but it certainly isn’t about gender relations and homosexuality.
I still haven’t figured out what the riot stuff is about though. But I don’t think it’s supposed to point directly at Stonewall. So there.
*There is a whole other reading here of the fascist/Weimar Germany undertones and Gaga’s pure-whiteness.