Lady Gaga, famous for wearing spacesuit-inspired get-ups with mountainous shoulder pads
Lady Gaga, famous for wearing spacesuit-inspired get-ups with mountainous shoulder pads Evan Agostini/AP
WARNING: The following contains language some people may find offensive.
Have you seen "Telephone" yet? It's the latest Lady Gaga monster-piece, this time starring Beyonce. As of this writing, YouTube reports more than 20 million views, putting it on the road to becoming the most-watched music video of all time. Suffice it to say, if you intend to salvage any of your pop culture street cred, you really need to pick up the phone, so to speak.
Director Jonas Akerlund packs this one full. Lesbian gender-bending prison fantasies, Diet Coke-can hair rollers, murderous pre/post-feminist man-haters, all colliding in a divinely twisted ending when Lady Gaga and Beyonce don silky gowns and ride off into the desert like Thelma and Louise in a "Pussy Wagon." What more can I say?
Anyone who knows me knows I am inherently skeptical — and often disgusted — by overly hyped commercial media, especially if they involve brazen product placement, canned music and endless cliches — nearly all of which are painfully present in "Telephone" and all of Gaga's work to date.
But recently, while I was watching "Telephone" for the fifth or sixth time, and scouring the Web for deconstructions of its multiple meanings, I began to understand why I love it so much.
Lady Gaga, you make me feel like a teenage gay boy again.
Back then, in the early '90s, before I grew up and bought a sofa, I was fiercely idealistic. It was me against the big bad hateful world. Maybe society is still trying to bring me down and I'm just too busy to be bothered. But in my teenage years I was on a warpath, with one goal in mind: SHOCK AND AWE! (Yes, it's true, Donald Rumsfeld and I share a special affinity for the art of drama.) I got the requisite piercing (in the gay ear), accessorized with rainbow freedom rings (they used to be a radical statement) and dyed my hair platinum. The color I chose was called "White Lady." In truth, I transformed myself into a scrawny-boy version of Cyndi Lauper. I put my freakishness front and center — in your face, no courtesies, no questions. Call me a faggot, I dare you.
Fast-forward — dare I say it, just shy of two decades — and now my life is not quite as glamorific. You probably would not think 'Cyndi' if you saw me walking down the street (most nights). And try calling me a faggot now. The only reaction you're likely to get is pity. I reserve my fury now for deeper personal affronts, like when my whole-grain waffles turn out soggy. It's not that I feel any less disturbed by the soul-sucking effect of modern day life. And I am no wallflower. I just prefer to play the provocation game in less subtle, more strategic ways.
And that's just fine with me.
Gaga, you have taken the reins. You have turned your inner misfit inside out, for the world to gawk and stare at. And just like me in my pierced and platinum days, you relish and thrive on the power of repulsion. You like dancing on the edge, watching the onlookers gasp or turn away with disdain.
You are the official embodiment of a "parent's worst nightmare," and I love you for it. And even more deserving of congratulations is that you have done it without marginalizing your splendor. Did you make your millions by embracing corporate sponsorship? Probably. And 10 years from now, maybe that's all you will be — a Coke ad. But for now your grotesque and fabulous burlesque show is a full-on mainstream commodity. Even Fox News is on to the Gagavolution.
Lady Gaga, please keep wearing hats made of your own hair. Please keep smudging your face with dirt and wearing spacesuit-inspired get-ups with mountainous shoulder pads. Maybe you could sprinkle some meaning in your lyrics? Or not. Just whatever you do, keep making people squirm. Otherwise I may have to go buy a new supply of "White Lady" hair toner. And no one needs to see that again.