Posted by: joha5 | June 9, 2010

“Alejandro”: A Lesson in Popular Culture & Identity Politics

Yesterday was a big day in the popular music world as Lady gaga finally released her brand new video for the single entitled “Alejandro”.  I do not keep it a secret that I am a massive fan of her music, her performances, her talent, and I am a fan of what she represents both in music and in popular culture.  While I would love to take credit for this amazingly written short article, I cannot.  It is actually written by Lyndsey Parker, a well known blogger (Video Gaga) and Managing Editor of Yahoo! Music (you can follow her on Twitter: @lyndseyparker).  It is so well written and articulate that it is too good not to share with my reader’s.  Enjoy the video and enjoy the post.  I sure did. 

Lady Gaga–who famously revealed to Barbara Walters in her 2009 “Most Interesting People” interview that she herself is bisexual, and whose hit “Poker Face” dealt with that topic–has long been an outspoken advocate for the LGBT community. She’s appeared on the cover of Out magazine, marched for gay rights in D.C., received a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Musical Artist, and headlined/hosted a benefit concert for marriage equality, among other activist activities. When she picked up her VMA moonman at last year’s MTV Video Music Awards, she even proudly held it aloft and declared, “This is for God and the gays!” But she has never addressed gay issues as directly or politically in a video as she does in her compelling new clip, “Alejandro”.

In her outlandish past videos, Gaga has appeared in a futuristic wheelchair, pranced around a fiery bathhouse, and embarked on a “Thelma-&-Louise”-style road trip with Beyoncé, but in the just-premiered “Alejandro” she is uncharacteristically serious. The classy black-and-white clip, lensed by high-fashion photographer/Madonna collaborator Steven Klein, is a seven-minute “celebration of my love and appreciation for the gay community, my admiration of their bravery, their love for one another, and their courage in relationships,” according to Gaga’s June 1 interview with CNN’s Larry King, during which she premiered a short teaser of the “Alejandro” video.

Of course, now that the full “Alejandro” is out, we can all see that it’s not a blatant political PSA–as with all Gaga videos, it’s a piece of performance art, open to interpretation. But the video’s vaguely “Rhythm Nation”-reminiscent vibe, not to mention what Gaga described to King as its “homoerotic military theme,” could be construed as a creative critique of the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. And the video’s wardrobe of nun’s habits and other religious imagery could be viewed as references to the Catholic Church’s demonization of homosexuality.

The Catholic imagery in particular is reminiscent of works by Gaga’s obvious predecessor, the aforementioned Madonna, another pop female whose conflicted feelings about religion have been explored in her own videos such as “Oh Father” and the banned “Like a Prayer.” As Gaga told King: “I struggle with my feelings about the Church in particular….in terms of religion, I’m very religious. I was raised Catholic. I believe in Jesus. I believe in God. I’m very spiritual. I pray very much. But at the same time, there is no one religion that doesn’t hate or speak against or be prejudiced against another racial group or religious group, or sexual group. For that, I think religion is also bogus. So I suppose you could say I’m a quite religious woman that is very confused about religion. And I dream and envision a future where we have a more peaceful religion or a more peaceful world, a more peaceful state of mind for the younger generation. And that’s what I dream for.”

At the very least, the “Alejandro” video is a thank-you gift to Gaga’s large and devoted LGBT fanbase, the affectionately nicknamed “Little Monsters” who have helped make her the biggest female pop star on the planet. “The gay community…has been the most enormous blessing of my life, that I have them and their support and the way that they truly understand me and support me,” Gaga told King. “My admiration for the gay community comes from an incredibly steadfast and joyful courage and very bravery that they have for one another, for their community. To be gay and to live openly in this society is something that requires a tremendous amount of strength and steadfastness….I celebrate their culture and their union and who they are, in my music, and in my fashion, and in my work, every day. And I will forever.”

Of course,”Alejando” is controversial and polarizing–no Gaga video would be complete without a little shock value–but by Gaga standards, this video is actually almost downright tame, and this time, she isn’t dancing with cans of Miracle Whip or disco sticks or hats fashioned out of princess phones. This time, there seems to be a message behind Gaga’s madness. Will people listen to what she has to say? Regardless, this is yet another Lady Gaga video that will be impossible to ignore.



  1. such a sick video. didnt get time to read the blog completely, so i’ll come by later:)

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