Saturday 16 January 2010
Lady GaGa's Dark Muse
Can we take a moment to talk about Lady GaGa? I first "discovered" her on Pandora, long after she'd made her actual debut. I'm out of the pop loop, is what I'm saying. And then I was hanging out with a friend, who, like me, doesn't listen to top 40, loves horror movies, and enjoys making fun of people, and we (somehow) got to talking about Lady GaGa. She'd asked if I'd seen the video for Paparazzi. I hadn't.
And now that I have, let me just say: Huh. In spite of the pop music and the glamorous sheen, the video is a short treatise on obsession and revenge. The lyrics themselves are quite dark, telling the story of a fan who obsessively pursues her idol, sure in the knowledge the idol will one day return her love. The video takes these themes and pushes them further, as Lady GaGa herself is living with her stalker.
We don't know exactly how this happened, but we're to assume she fell victim to his relentless pursuit. It's an interesting idea, this notion of pushy, obsessive love that wears down its object to the point of submission. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Lady GaGa's boyfriend, the terrifyingly handsome Alexander Skarsgaard, is a total narcissist and is more in love with the idea of being with Lady GaGa, than he is with the woman herself. The combined pathology of stalker and narcissist creates quite a monster and the inevitable happens when they boyfriend dumps Lady GaGa off the balcony in a glory-seeking fit of anger.
Lady GaGa doesn't die from the fall. No, she suffers a worse fate--her career is over. Holed up in her mansion with her ungrateful boyfriend, who benefited nothing from the attempted murder, Lady GaGa heals. Stripping off her braces, Lady GaGa sheds her innocence and morality, and takes her revenge on Alexander Skarsgaard by poisoning his drink. Though she confesses to the crime, Lady GaGa is found not guilty and, as a final insult to Alexander Skarsgaard, she enjoys new success and fame. By accomplishing all that her boyfriend failed to do, Lady GaGa essentially triumphs over her oppressor, finding salvation in death.
One of the more arresting images in the video is Lady GaGa's dance number on crutches. I don't mean to suggest the disabled are less than human, but the scene in the video presents Lady GaGa as a kind of quasi-human, a woman who is not yet finished being made. The image is creepy, and made all the more striking by the video's outlandish design.
The colours and the music offset the video's dark subject matter. Drawing inspiration from fashion, Lady GaGa's look is one of glamorous excess, and is in total opposition to the story being told. The song and the video work together to create a beautiful world that is rotten at its core, full of treachery and deceit. Though not horror-themed per se, Paparazzi, explores a lot of the same dark territory as horror--lust, obsession, murder--and uses startling visuals to help tell its twisted story.