I Want Your Love and I Want Your Revenge

All the fashion blogs have recently written about Bad Romance, Lady GaGa’s latest music video directed by Francis Lawrence. The usually daring fashion choices of the American artist have become more and more extravagant and impressive, and this can be seen in the video: GaGa’s stylist, Nicola Formichetti, and the Haus of GaGa team have created something unique and special. The most striking pieces seen on her come from Alexander McQueen spring/summer 2010 collection, Plato’s Atlantis, but any single piece and accessory tell a story.

I’ve decided to write this review with one goal in mind: I think this video pays homage to science-fiction movies and music videos of the past, from an aesthetic point of view, so I hope it will be interesting to see how science-fiction is a genre which, though looking at a distant future, constantly recalls past visions about the future.

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The first scene of the video is set in a white salon, with tiles on the walls and flashing neon lights. GaGa is sitting on a white chair, surrounded by white-clad dancers and black-clad men. In the fiction of the video, she is the object of an auction, but she will get her revenge on the winner.

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In this scene she’s wearing an Alexander McQueen gold embroidered dress (I love the architectural structure of the sleeves) and shoes, plus shield sunglasses made of razor blades, creepy! Some metal net pieces have been applied on her black polished finger nails, as we can see in the screenshot above. The black object she has her hand on is a Zimku Parrot stand-alone speaker tower, designed by Philippe Starck.


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The second scene is an overview of the setting, including other rooms with white tiles on the walls, some Nemiroff vodka bottles, a set of white coffins with the word “Monster” [1] and a cross on them.

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The lighting effects of this scene have struck my attention because they remind me of Lenny Kravitz’s If You Can’t Say No music video, directed by the great Mark Romanek in 1998. In both cases, the objects and settings are lightened by a single ray of light in the darkness, an effect which emphasizes the ideas of mystery and impending danger.

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The camera then stops in front of a glass door, which leads to the Bath Haus of GaGa, a bathroom where seven white coffins are lined  up. GaGa and her dancers will come out of the coffins (all are dressed in white latex) and will perform a dance routine.

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The shape of the coffins recalls the coffin-shaped beds seen on True Blood‘s Shake and Fingerpop (the fourth episode of the second season, when Bill, Sookie and Eric go to Dallas).

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Science-fiction movies are filled with coffin-shaped beds, which are often rest but also healing places; just think of Ridley Scott’s Alien and James Cameron’s Aliens, where coffin beds were used to protect the hibernated sleep of the protagonists.

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The shape of the coffins also reminds me of the shape of the starship seen in Scream, the most expensive music video of all times, directed by Mark Romanek in 1999 for Micheal and Janet Jackson. The influence of Scream can be seen in the general design of the setting in Bad Romance.

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The third outfit change sees GaGa wearing an Alexander McQueen black turtleneck dress and booties with metal details, black shield sunglasses and a Haus of GaGa crown hat. In this scene, she’s singing in front of a white-framed mirror.

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white

The following scene is set in the Bath Haus of GaGa, where’s she’s having a bath in a white tub. In this case, she’s sporting her lovely pink/blonde curly hairstyle and wearing Rachel Barrett silicone rubber top and skirt, plus Alexander McQueen monster white platform pumps. What I don’t get of this scene is the look of her eyes: I don’t know if this is a special effect or just make-up, but her eyes look huge and this underlines her alien look.

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Her bath is interrupted by two silicone-clad women, who force her out of the tub and give her some vodka to drink. I love this scene because it’s disquieting and because I think it’s a reference to one of my favourite movies ever, Girl, Interrupted by James Mangold, starring Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie. In particular, it refers to the infamous scene set in the bathroom: sorry but I’ve been obsessed with this scene since I first saw the movie.

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Now comes the central part of the video, when the auction for a night with GaGa’s takes place. This scene is wonderful because the setting and her costumes make it special. The white bathroom is turned into a ballroom, where the protagonist is stripped of a weird letter trench coat by Vava Dudu and is left wearing just a few crystals. Note that the men are scantily clad, too: some of them wear trousers and jackets, but others are bare-chested. Another interesting detail are the animal/gas masks some of them wear, echoed by the scary Canadian Hairless cat on the lap of a man. Each man is bidding through a remote control connected to laptops, showing their bids. Just for the record, the winner “buys” her for 1,000,000 dollars.

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The dance routine of GaGa and her dancers makes the room look like a stage, and this brings us back to the Nineties and to one of the most beautiful music videos of that decade, Blur’s The Universal, directed by Jonathan Glazer. Damon Albarn and his mates performe in an all-white club, a modern version of A Clockwork Orange‘s Korova Milk Bar, where Alex DeLarge and his Droogs often hung out.

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Another all-white setting for a dance routine is present in Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head, directed by Dawn Shadforth, a music video which heavily references to science-fiction. In the scene above, Kylie was wearing the infamous revealing white jumpsuit designed by Fee Doran, a piece so striking and sexy that turned Kylie into a sex symbol again, after years of semi-oblivion.

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As for GaGa, the outfit she is sporting here includes silver shorts, a stunning mesh and crystal top and a gorgeous crystal headpiece, all custom-made creations by Franc Fernandez. In the screencaps above, her new tattoo – a Rainer Maria Rilke’s quote – on the inner part of her arm is visible.

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The following scene is set in the same hall as before: now the dancers are gone and GaGa is alone among the men who have attended the auction. This is another of my favourite scenes, because it’s visually captivating: she’s standing at the centre of the hall, wearing Agent Provocateur Love black bra and panties, surrounded by a motionless rain of crystals. We get a 360° vision of GaGa amid the crystal rain, such a poetic and intense moment! She’s also wearing a lace mask by Keko Hainswheeler, Alexander McQueen monster black pumps and Benjamin Cho crystal rosaries.

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People gradually disappear from the hall: now GaGa is alone, amid the white flashing lights coming from the walls. This scene is similar to the previous one, because here GaGa is again motionless, while the camera revolves around her. Lady GaGa’s unstoppable desire to experiment with fashion and her own image is symbolized by several elements – her quirky hairstyles, the beyond sexy outfits, the passion for masks and shield sunglasses, the unbelievable headpieces and the metal orb. This a creation by Nasir Mazhar (recalling Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man) she first sported during a performance at Saturday Night Live in October 2009 [2]. She’s also wearing black bra and panties, a cut-out metal corset, shield sunglasses and Alexander McQueen pumps with metal details.

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One of the latest scenes are set in the same hall: now it is empty and in half-light. Lady GaGa moves a few steps, then sits on a bench. We understand why she doesn’t walk much with those elephantic shoes. Alexander McQueen is one of my favourite designers, but I prefer his Victorian-gothic side to his futuristic views; this doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the gorgeous dress seen on GaGa, all embroidered with iridescent beads and worn with matching leggings. In this scene, GaGa is wearing her shield sunglasses again and sports a towering hairstyle, similar to the ones seen on McQueen’s runway.

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The action is slowly approaching to its climax. GaGa makes an unforgettable entrance in the white hall – now turned into a bedroom – wearing a polar bear faux fur coat by Benjamin Cho. The winner of the auction – whose face is half covered by metal armour plates – is sitting on the bed, sipping vodka from a glass. He’s the only black note in a white ocean: everything is white, including GaGa’s tulle bra and panties, her Carrera Safari sunglasses, Kartell Bourgie lamps in the background and the hunting trophies on the wall [3]. Her make-up here is stunning: she pairs a heavy smokey eye with dark red lips, so dramatic [4]!

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As I said before, GaGa is sold to the best auctioneer, but she strikes back with a terrible revenge, because she literally sets the bed on fire. The scene above preludes to one of the most intense moments of the video, where the bed is completely wrapped in flames and GaGa gracefully poses for the camera. A creepy touch is given by a RP Encore rat headpiece.

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The video is coming to an end, but there’s a last dance routine to perform. I love the contrast between the white setting and the red costumes on GaGa (her red lace number is a creation by Alex Noble) and the dancers.

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The contrast of white and red is not a prerogative of Bad Romance, because it first appeared in 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick, a movie which massively defined the concept of future in cinematography. The art directors Anthony Masters, Harry Lange and Ernest Archer created something unique and absolutely striking, because they imagined a future through the lens of the artistic avantgarde of the Sixties.

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The same chromatic contrast can be found in The Universal, where the Red Man is one of the most enigmatic customers of the white club.

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A touch of black humour closes the video: GaGa, wearing black lace bra and panties, her creepy rat headpiece and Alexander McQueen monster black pumps, lies on the charred bed, next to the skeleton of her lover. The metal bra she’s wearing is still sending sparks, so we guess it has been a weapon to use against her enemy. This is not the first time she has sported this weird creation by House of GaGa, because she performed at 2009 Much Music Awards in Toronto wearing it.

Just a few words about the video and the song before closing the post. I first didn’t like the song at all, but it has slowly grown on me, and now I can’t get it out of my head, so I guess it’s a perfect pop song. As for the video, I think it’s not as culturally relevant as Paparazzi [5], yet it is an interesting reflection on the opposition of love and hate in a science-fiction setting. Even if I don’t like Francis Lawrence’s style (too glossy and cold, in my opinion), it’s one of the most imaginative videos I’ve ever seen, and the evidence that GaGa is here to stay.

[1] This refers to the re-edition of GaGa’s debut album, The Fame Monster, including new tracks.

[2] She wore a smaller version of the orbit as a headpiece at the Ellen DeGeneres Show in December 2008.

[3] I love coincidences, so I think it’s funny she’s wearing sunglasses called Safari in a scene where hunting trophies hang from a wall.

[4] Christine at Temptalia has re-created the same make-up. I have to try it myself!

[5] The most striking flaw of the video are the several products advertised – the vodka, Carrera sunglasses, the speaker towers, Kartell lamps and Heartbeats by Lady GaGa headphones. I know advertisement and endorsements are essential, but this is too much in your face. That’s a pity, because the video is gorgeous and all these advertisements somehow distract the audience from it.

Source, source and source.

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14 comments

  1. Il tuo post e’ come sempre molto interessante🙂
    Ma le scarpe di Alexander McQueen, specialmente le ultime (quelle che definisci elefantiache), sono veramente orride!
    A me alcuni video di Lady Gaga fanno venire in mente alcuni altri video di Marilyn Manson… brrrr…

    1. Le scarpe bianche e quelle nere hanno una forma così poco armonica e delle decorazioni così aggressive che mi spaventano non poco. Quelle ‘elefantiache’, invece, sono quasi tenere, sembrano essere state disegnate da un bambino😉

  2. I interpreted the whole video to be a narrative of Gaga’s friends wanting to go out to a club, and beforehand they begin “corrupting her”, force feeding her vodka. I found the huge eyes to symbolize innocence, and as her friends get her drunk for the pre-party, she prepares to go out and loses her control (note that they wash the eye makeup off of her and her eyes become normal size). The auction scene to me is representative of her performance on the dance floor at the club, and the several single men at the club vying for her attention, one of whom hits the jackpot. By this time I have to figure she’s drunk and about to go home with someone she doesn’t care for and isn’t committed to (the thesis of the lyrics, if you listen), and transforms from lost innocent to predatory greed and lust, in the crystal shattering scene. The ensuing date and time alone is symbolized in the green dress scene in the dim lighting, which then leads to the inevitable sex scene in the white with the bear head. Note that these scenes are interspersed with clips of Gaga crying with less makeup (you did not mention these scenes – and their fashion!), these scenes drive home to me that the whole affair is sad and bittersweet, and possibly against her will, maybe the crying Gaga symbolizes her subconscious being silenced during this process? Lastly she makes love to the man, in an entirely predatory way and is ready to leave, thus she turns devil red and leaves him a smoldering mess, after which we assume the tryst is over and she will not return a call, carry a relationship, or see this man ever again, and let’s hope he didn’t put his heart into this interaction either. If he did, perhaps that’s why he’s a smoldering mess while she’s ready to let go and move on from a one night stand mistake.

    That’s my take anyway.

    1. I’ve read many interpretations of this video (I’ve probably chosen the most obvious), but this is one of the most brilliant and personal! Your take is very good indeed.

      Thanks for sharing your ideas here. I’ve really appreciated it.

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