Do you get the quickie?

CarnalNation

twitter
facebook
title

Lady Gaga: Music Videos as Porn

I realize that I'm late to the Lady Gaga party. (Hey, I'm 48 years old. Cut me some slack.) But I gotta say—I'm impressed.

If I just listened to her music, I'd only be moderately interested. I think her music is perfectly fun, well-above-average dance pop music. But I've been watching her music videos... and they're making me think that this woman is a force to be reckoned with. (Yes, I realize she doesn't direct her own videos—but they are clearly collaborations, strongly shaped by her artistic vision, and they're a central part of her public persona.)

And what's striking me about Lady Gaga's music videos is not just how smart they are, or how imaginative, or how lovingly crafted and visually stunning, or how just flat-out funny. What's striking me about Lady Gaga's music videos is how strongly influenced they are by sex culture: by fetish fashion, by sexploitation flicks, and by plain old dirty porn.

What's more, they seem to be strongly influenced by these cultures, not as an outsider, not as someone who's manipulating this imagery to titillate/shock the audience, but as an insider, someone who's intimately familiar with both sex culture and sexual marginalization. This isn't Britney Spears, using schoolgirl or slavegirl or girl-on-girl imagery to excite her audience without any apparent understanding or affinity for it. Lady Gaga's music videos (coupled with her interviews about her work) show a thoughtful, informed insight into polymorphous perversity. She has an analysis that could easily hold its own in any queer theory/gender theory/sex theory forum—and damn do I love a sexy girl with an analysis!—and her freak flag is waving high and proud.

In a way that—if I can be crass for a moment—makes her videos very functional as porn. I've certainly seen other music videos that turned me on. I can't remember seeing any that made me this hungry to watch them again and again... with a vibrator handy.

Telephone may be the best example of these porny influences. A brazen riff on "women in prison" sexploitation flicks—and "women in prison" porn flicks—the video plays with kinky imagery, catfight imagery, and girl-girl porn imagery... all reclaimed into a defiantly queer sexuality. (Yes, Lady Gaga is an out bisexual.) The women are costumed in the sexist, sluttiest, most wildly fantastical, least plausible prisoner uniforms imaginable, far outstripping the implausibly slutty costumes of any "women in prison" porn or sexploitation movie I've seen: elaborate platform heels, leather bondage collars, luxuriously trashy lingerie, chains draped around bodies, sunglasses made of cigarettes, leather gear studded and zippered within an inch of its life. Latex prison stripes for Ms. Gaga herself—rudely stripped off by the butch prison guards, to reveal black taped X's over her nipples and fishnet hose with nothing but pixels underneath. All with cleavage and thighs and asses on meticulously offhand display. And all with breakneck-speed costume changes that defy even porn logic.

Clip this story

Comments


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Cross-postin'

That's so funny! I just started watching Lady Gaga videos in earnest for the first time yesterday, and have been thinking about the interesting issues of gender, sexuality, and artistic interpretation she and her videos bring up. That moment in Bad Romance where she falls on her hands and knees and the camera pans back to show the guy watching... simultaneously titillating for me as a subbie and thought-provoking for me as a student of sexuality and gender representations. I'm starting to come around to the view that she fundamentally embraces sexuality, in a queer and subversive way, though there's a certain extent to which her gender exaggerations and some of the more uncomfortably sexual/eroticized-inequality moments (uncomfortable: I watched Telephone in one of my classes and had to really work not to squirm in my seat) strike me as deliberately discomfiting satire of the patriarchal treatment of women as fundamentally sex objects and bodies to be viewed and used by males. But anyway, yay Gaga!

what about teeth?

Thank you for this article.
I was disappointed that it didn't include mention of the video for "Teeth," which is basically an SM scene.

Here is the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKwlgDatKgE

I would be interested to year the author's thoughts on it.

Re: what about teeth?

RJ: I actually hadn't seen that video before. I'm pretty sure, though, that it's not an official video produced by Lady Gaga. It's not on her own Website, and the (admittedly minimal) digging that I did seems to indicate that it's fan-made, not made by her or her production company.

Still pretty freaking hot, though. Thanks for the link!

Fits my Fetishes

I adore the way Lady Gaga flaunts so many different fetishes in a way that celebrates them instead of treats them like a freak show. There are no freaks in Gaga World, there are only fantasies that tap into the core of human sexual diversity. I pretty much hate pop, but I love everything that Lady Gaga represents.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Greta Christina
May 25th, 2010
Greta Christina's picture
Greta Christina is editor of the annual Best Erotic Comics series. She is also editor of Paying for It: A Guide by Sex Workers for Their Clients, and author of "Bending," an erotica novella in the...