In honor of the music video that is sweeping the virtual nation today, (it's Lady Gaga and Beyoncé's "Telephone," but I bet I didn't have to tell you that) a few of us here in the office got on our trusty GChat accounts and commented along with the video. Read what we had to say about transmisogyny, pastiche, and sandwiches – and leave your own comments! (Since we chatted along with the video, playing the video while you read might help to make the most sense out of things.)
Kelsey: do we have any preliminary video comments before we start?
I know we've all seen it a few times now
Kjerstin: and it starts out "county jail, prison for bitches"! did i not notice that before?
Kelsey: that should be the new sign outside our office – PRISON FOR BITCHES
Shaamini: I like this already!
Andi: I've already watched this like three times today.
Kelsey: the intro is so 70s I guess that is the Kill Bill influence?
Shaamini: her prison stripes are phenomenal!
Kelsey: modeled after a real jail, I'm sure
Andi: Are we supposed to get the idea that she's in jail after killing the dude from True Blood, from the Paparazzi video?
Kelsey: so she went to jail for murdering that guy and it was supposed to be a statement about celebrity and fame and now she is sort of doing the same thing but starting in "fame jail" where there are lots of hot lesbians
Kjerstin: so she's sort of addressing the intersex rumor, but as one blogger at gudbuytjane pointed out, is it transmysoginistic to be like "see, no dick!"
Andi: That's definitely what I thought. Maybe she wants to start it up again?
Kjerstin: it also happens so early in the video
Kelsey: she has been so intentionally vague about the intersex thing, I'm surprised she'd address it like this (or maybe I'm not)
Kjerstin: it's extra shocking
Kelsey: but yeah, like gudbuytjane said, it's like "Oh thank God she doesn't have a dick now I can relax"
Shaamini: i think it works with the whole surveillance issue in prisons
Kelsey: but also they blur her crotch out, so we don't know for sure, right?
Shaamini: and the other prison guard does say "too bad"
Kelsey: but does she say “too bad” because they wanted to be more trans-inclusive? Probs not.
Andi: I don't know. I definitely see this as one for her lesbian fans, explicitly. And the no-dick thing seems like it could be part of that.
Kjerstin: On to the exercise yard!
Kelsey: those smoking glasses are blowing my mind
Kjerstin: what's that song on the radio? Everyone is so prison glam
Kelsey: Gaga doesn't seem that into the kiss
Andi: I have watched way too much OZ because my first thought was that she was gonna turn and burn that one woman after making out with her.
Kelsey: VIRGIN MOBILE! Product placement galore. I do <3 the Diet Coke rollers in her hair though. What do you think about she's herself and her Gaga persona in the cell?
Andi: I have actually rolled my hair with orange juice cans. That's how we did it in the 80s, y'all.
Kelsey: And the brunette her doesn't seem to like the Gaga her.
Andi: Apparently it's her sister, Natali.
Shaamini: she's an onlooker
Kelsey: oh wow, they look so much the same. Oh, here is the part of the video I called "A Burlesque version of Shutter Island" in my initial notes.
Andi: I LOVE this dance break. It's so much like the Pat Benetar video for Love is a Battlefield.
Kjerstin: julie (who was a prison-rights advocate before working for Bitch) was saying that she was wary of the hot women's prison thing, but she thought it ended up being...different and not male-gazy
Kelsey: I think this is how women dress in prisons you guys
Andi: Yeah, I could see how a prison-rights activist could get wary.
Kelsey: Plenty of Fish PRODUCT PLACEMENT. I know she's postmodern, but the product placement is ridic in this video
Andi: Okay, the crime-scene tape scene freaked me out
Kelsey: What about how B and Gaga have kind of a Dom/sub thing happening? Like she’s a “bad girl” and Beyoncé feeds her and stuff.
Andi: I think Beyoncé gets short shrift here, because her breakdown in the song is the most awesome part.
Shaamini: I'm not dancing until Beyoncé starts to sing
Kelsey: Yeah Beyoncé's part of the song is the best
Andi: Seriously, it's awesome.
Kelsey: Wait! I wanted to talk about that cow line, and the mirror dialogue. It lost me
Kjerstin: I think it's supposed to
Shaamini: I’m just glad Tyrese is getting work
Andi: LET"S MAKE A SANDWICH.
Kelsey: Tyrese burger! Though I don't quite understand why they kill everyone in the diner. Is it another statement about celebrity/fame culture?
Kjerstin: I wanna know what that word is when the woman gets her butt smacked
Kjerstin: the kitchen scene is my favorite for like, this many reasons
Andi: Was this scene a Natural Born Killers reference?
Kelsey: or Pulp Fiction maybe?
Shaamini: I thought more NBK at first
Andi: Is it wrong that I was only bummed to see the dead dog, but not so much the dead people?
Kelsey: Gaga is such a pastiche-maker
Kjerstin: Tyrese is such a dick
Kelsey: She knew he'd take all her honey – that part made me think of Thelma and Louise. Or that Dixie Chicks' song "Earl"
Shaamini: Really good line!
Kjerstin: this dance scene is also crazy. Cause of the intense dying
Shaamini: the American flag decor is pretty wonderful
Kjerstin: queering patriotism!
Andi: Jai Rodgriguez from Queer Eye -- I like that he's kind of making fun of himself.
Kelsey: I know, I love that he is the newscaster. Do you think that's the Pussy Wagon from Kill Bill? Or did they make another one?
Andi: Could there be more than one Pussy Wagon? I think not.
Kelsey: yeah it has the same keychain
Shaamini: Same body work on the car
Kjerstin: those gown dresses do something to me
Kelsey: oh here comes the woman symbol wipe! Sisterhood!
Andi: Definitely a Thelma and Louise reference. And Bonnie & Clyde, maybe, with the hats.
Shaamini: they remind me of bram stoker's Dracula, but that's obviously not the reference
Kelsey: yeah and I guess the Polaroid camera is a Bonnie and Clyde reference
Kjerstin: and a Gaga reference
Shaamini: I’m really surprised by the overall coverage this video is getting
Kelsey: I like the hype and the drama (which I think is the reason to like Gaga)
Kjerstin: I think it's practically impossible to make sense out of
Shaamini: General consensus was that the video was just fun without a "message"
Andi: I just like that she actually makes high-concept (or any-concept) videos. Who else does that these days?
Kelsey: The video is interesting because I think she is trying to make statements about LGBTQ issues and women's issues but I don't quite get what those statements are
Andi: Oh, I thought of another reference: Freeway! Another amazing movie.
Andi: I actually didn't think she was trying to make a statement other than, "I'm making a crazy-ass pastiche video with Beyoncé."
Kjerstin: Yeah you could just say "i don't even know who or what this is about" when gaga kisses the butch in the prison yard, when actually it's like, "when do you see to non femmes kissing on mainstream tv?"
Kelsey: I think it's about doing something sexy and different and getting attention. MISSION: ACCOMPLISHED.
Andi: I do think it's about acknowledging her lesbian fans, rather than just the gay men, like Johnny Weir, who have embraced her. I think she wants to go beyond being the new Madonna.
Kelsey: I do hate the product placement though. Like, I know you're all about pastiche and postmodernism Gaga, but I don't buy it that you needed the money from PlentyofFish or Virgin Mobile for this video.
Kjerstin: I like how Beyoncé got to have non-Beyoncé fun and use bad words but still not be the over-the-top one. I keep wondering if the Obamas have seen the video yet
Kelsey: Ooh I wonder if they have! They love Honey B.
Andi: Yeah, the product placement with the winking is really done.
Kelsey: I would have preferred all fake products like the pretend Miracle Whip
Kjerstin: oh man i didn't know plenty of fish was real
Andi: Oh god it's horribly real.
Kelsey: so do you think her gay fans (à la Johnny Weir) will embrace this video? Or will they feel like she's abandoning them for her lesbian fans? My thinking is that if you're a Gaga fan you like this video, and if you aren't you might hate it
Andi: It's campy enough for everyone, ultimately. It's not as artsy as the Bad Romance video, but it's more fun.
Kjerstin: quickie poll says yes
Kelsey: yeah the phone made of hair and the "Let's Make a Sandwich" dance are for everyone
Shaamini: I would agree and the level of entertainment might be enough to win some fans over too
Kelsey: the song itself doesn't have much to do with this video, though I guess there are a few phone references
Andi: That's what's nuts to me. Now whenever I hear the song I'm going to think of a prison yard, rather than just, like, a club and trying to hear someone on the phone. That would have been a really boring video, though.
Kjerstin: i like that...and then it just throws phones in willy nilly because it's called "telephone." like, in your hair for example
Shaamini: I like the idea of her saying 'stop trying to access me!'
Kelsey: but overall the lyrics and the video are really different, since I read the song as being about wanting people to quit calling you so you could dance, like the PSAs at thatsnotcool.com -- stop texting me while I'm dancing!
Kelsey: Beyoncé agrees! We just want to dance! and murder people in a diner! and dance more!
Shaamini: haha. I think Beyoncé and her MJ-inspired outfit are worth noting too
Kelsey: yeah I love her epaulets – the jean shorts I could live without
Shaamini: too cut-up
Kjerstin: there's another MJ reference when she leaves prison and dances with the zombies
Andi: Loved that little dance move.
Kelsey: I wonder if they are referencing him because he was a pioneer in the high-concept music video world. He pretty much invented it.
Andi: Bad Romance had that too. Totally an homage to Thriller.
Kelsey: yeah definitely, it's nice that they are recognizing but still doing something new with it. I think MJ would like this video.
Kelsey: OK, any final thoughts?
Kjerstin: I think it will polarize feminists more
Kelsey: which is funny because I don't think she is all that much of a feminist icon or anything
Andi: Will we be able to rest until we've definitively decided if Lady Gaga is good for feminism? Probably not.
Kelsey: She is interesting, and she is a woman, but that doesn't mean feminists have to go to the mattresses over her
Andi: I think Gaga studies will become as big in academia as Madonna studies once were.
Kelsey: And the fact that her name is Gaga makes that way funnier. I am a Gaga-ologist! I have my PhD in Gaga Studies!
Shaamini: She makes some interesting political statements that appear as non-statements
Kelsey: I agree with you Shaamini on the statements, except sometimes I think she actually isn't saying anything but she's good at seeming like she's saying something
Kjerstin: I'm excited to see how the story "is continued" and if it will be an entirely different genre
Kelsey: I hope Honey B is still in it
Shaamini: Can you start calling me Honey S?
Kjerstin: maybe johnny weir will be in it
Kelsey: Let's Make A Sandwich!!!
Andi: I have nothing else to add, except that this video has made me happier than I've been in days. It's an antidepressant, practically.
Kelsey: Do you have a favorite part?
Andi: Um, SANDWICH.
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