Down to brass tacks – and knuckles: this. video. should. be. illegal. If Lady Gaga wasn’t so original, she’d be criminal – oh … wait. This video comes off the heels of her iconic Paparazzi video, also directed by Jonas “Brother Please, I Use My Cojones” Akerlund.
After all of the hype, the question remained in the back of every monster’s mind: “but really, can anything make “Bad Romance” look bad, can Gaga even top herself at this point?” The collective answer was “yes… bitch is bad.” “Telephone” takes the theme of “Paparazzi,” douses it in Tarantino cinematics – sets it off – and sends Gagaloo off to see the Wizard, the Wizard of HBO Presents: Oz; it’s Pulp Fiction turned Pop Fact. Welcome to the GrindHaus of Gaga
“Telephone” is a tale of three terrains: the pound, the pussy wagon, and the public.
The hold is Gaga’s Haus. Rolling solo dolo in a sea of chain gang Cholas, Gaga owns the video and the prison just like she did Hollywood and Vine. Right from the jump Gaga turned the walk of shame into the walk of Fame. She comes through the Pen harder than Baltimore: when the guard says “I told you she didn’t have a dick,” half the American male population breathed a sigh of relief at the confirmation of their heterosexuality – the other half re-questioned their own, and wondered if she was packing more than they were. They say the clothes don’t make the man, but as Gaga said of her VMA Paparazzi performance:
People say I’m no more than the clothes I wear; that’s exactly right: if they bleed, I bleed.
So what do the clothes say about her now? She goes hard. Kanye would never rock a mink fur in the winter like Killa Cam, Gaga would never rock anything less than chains and haute couture with killas, man; Hov might rock Versace shades four years straight, Gaga rocks Newport shutter shades: all. day. Pain is beauty: Emphysema of the eyes is ballin’. The new thug misses takes rumors and throws them on the ground – she will not be a part of the system. People say Gaga’s a crackhead; well, the news called it crack, she calls it Diet Coke – cans… as curlers. She rocks Virgin Mobile phones in her pants: cherry cherry boom boom – you’ve been popped.
The Yard is her field of peerless competitors – the T Swifts, Rihannas, Ke$has and Katy Perrys. It is the L.A. Reids and Diddys. It’s the sharks with which she swims. She came in an assumed farce, and comes out a feared force. The prison is Gaga’s playground, she goes to the depths, mingles with the monsters, and moves on to the next one – but she’ll be back.
A Gaga bailout from Beyonce made sense after “Video Phone;” after “Telephone” though it seems more audacious than the government bank bailout. Oh Honey B – Hov might want to guard his cookies because Gaga took a bite out of that Honey Bun like it was Bey’s bad girl meat.
One-on-one, Gaga at 23 can go toe-to-toe with any celebrity, artist, icon, or contemporary. Anyone who said Gaga didn’t bring it to “Video Phone”… said that because they didn’t know any better, and Gaga kindly brought it back. She rides shotgun, she plays the part of passenger – and still manages to upgrade the pilot. Whether in a pickup truck, or in the booth laying down tracks, Gaga is Pop’s deadliest partner in crime – and she is K-Slaying it right now. Gaga: unshakable; the game: shook like a Polaroid picture.
This is when the video shifts though: from the true garage grit of a prison flick to the pseudo-sugary sweet hypersaturation of a cracked-out candy la-la-la-land – from sharing the comfortable misery of monstrous mistresses, to shielding herself from the flashing lights of Hollywood and their Venusian trap death kisses. Here we go from killin-it-with-the-prison-campy to killing-me-with-the-uber-kitsch.
If the prison was Gaga’s Haus, the diner is her public – and she runs them both like a boss. “Paparazzi” saw the death of the celebrity, “Telephone” is the follow-up that turns the table on the viewing public. In a restaurant full of stars (Semi-Precious Weapons, I see you) and citizens – Tyrese playing the hybrid of “Hey, don’t I know you from?” – everyone is a starving roadside voyeur-exhibitionist.
The fiends either want to see, or be seen – but regardless, it’s all part of the scene. When Beyonce kills Tyrese it’s that redemption – whether it is one celebrity pulling at another like crabs in a barrel, or just a man holding down a good woman, it’s all about ambition – Beyonce bailed Gaga out to kill the beast. The fiends eyes had been sticky like honey on bees since Gaga was chillin’ with Wale in the DMV.
Inevitably, she “always knew you’d take all my honey;” Gaga knew it’d be like this when she was in the kitchen. Stylebiters, swaggerjacks, haters, that greed – it’ll kill you. The fiends want it though, they live for the celebrity rise and demise – and it will undoubtedly be the undoing of the public. Decked out in Americana from head to toe – it is almost too apropos.
Hidden-in-plain-view is the celebreality of our hyperconsumer country eating up entertainment to the point of amusing ourselves to death. While with one hand she liberates inmates and monsters; so with the other Gaga serves and satiates our insatiable appetites. That splendific poison that we simply cannot push to the side – she supplies that fatal fuel until we reach our own delicious demise. It is the celebrity-obsessed culture – not the celebrity itself – that is lead headfirst – and left heartless – on the diner dancefloor.
So, Gaga cooks up a feast like crackcake samiches and feeds the beast – til the world goes Pop. She’ll gladly return to the Pen, but to the pits of the prying, pleading, perverse public is a place to which she promises she’ll never return again: on to the next one.
All of this is to say that “Telephone” is living proof that Gaga is her own gauge. She creates and shatters her own standards – standards that no other artist can even fathom. Her hype recalls Williams’ name. She makes everyone get on Akon’s time – every artist should consider retirement after this. It means Pop will never be low brow – ever.
This video is not a game – she’s having tons of fun, but she’s not playing with you: this is real. Rome wasn’t built in a day – I can’t be expected to make coherent sense of this masterpiece within a few hours; besides, I left my head and my heart on the dancefloor.