[Firstly, I apologise for the length. If you have time to read this, I envy you. If you have time to comment, I envy you more, but I would love you greater simultaneously. I haven’t proofread it, so I apologise for any mistakes. Anyway, happy reading the 4859 words.
Please use Formspring above to contact me if you do not want to use email.
Right! Oh my gosh, where to start?! This was such a highly anticipated video - we had so many little snippets of it and later on, when I checked LadyGagaVevo, I found that there were two versions of the Alejandro trailer. That was quite strange! There were so many little things that we could spot, just in the first 19 second trailer. In it, there were two ghoulish figures at 3 seconds and at 17 seconds. Lady Gaga’s nipple appeared in one of the shots at 14 seconds. It was crazy - but this just made the tension grow even higher. In the second teaser, which was 21 seconds long, there were parts of it which was being played backwards, I reversed and didn’t find anything too extraordinary – it was just some of the song reversed – no hidden messages there, I don’t think.
Well, the video was pushed back for quite a few days, I am sure that there were rumours which said it would come out sometime during the end of May, then it got pushed back to the Monday, but it has finally been shown at 5pm GMT on Tuesday, 8th June, 2010. On Wednesday 2nd June at Manchester, she explained why it was being delayed.
This is what she said:
So I’m so excited because the video is coming out in erm in erm when is it 4 days, it might be 5 days, it’s 4 or 5 days, but I’ve seen it and it’s finished and I’m trying to…to claw it.. from their cold dead fingers. But, you know, I have to respect everybody’s artistic…vision. But I think it’s fucking finished and done with, and I never say that, you know me, I’m always a month late with my videos, cause I’d rather them be good, than suck and you guys all crucify me. Huh, ‘Lady Gaga, I really liked your video but I didn’t like the way you wore your hair and I didn’t like that there was no dance sequence after the bridge, and could you please sign this and send it back to me? Thank you’ You are so excited. Love it, I wouldn’t have it any other way, I will always fight for your soda cans and always sign for your autographs.”
Lady Gaga seemed very happy with the video. With hindsight, she did refer to religion here – she worried that we will “all crucify [her]” and now, 11th June, there does seem to be a lot of controversy over the video. Admittedly, there are bits which are awkward to watch, especially if you have parents around you, or other people who might not understand Lady Gaga.
Before the actual launch of the video, there were a number of tweets from Lady Gaga about the video:
The first tweet reflects what she said whilst in Manchester, talking about be “crucified” as if she would be persecuted. In her first tweet about the video, she immediately tells us that she knows others may try to destroy her – hinting at us that this will be quite a controversial video. She remains strong, however and believes that she will not be broken because she will carry on fighting for freedom and mutual understanding. In her second tweet, she becomes something like a martyr who is willing to sacrifice herself for the sake of the prejudice victims. She calls it a disease and at the end of the Alejandro video, she is basically devoured by some kind of illness which might be what Lady Gaga is alluding to in this tweet. She is prepared for the persecution which has ensued.
Oh! I have forgotten to mention one thing, at the end of her first tweet, she tagged GAGAKLEIN which shows us that it was a collaborated video between her and Steven Klein who is an American photographer who has worked with Madonna quite a number of times. Many people have also attacked her for following in her footsteps. I defend her and say, if you are currently one of the most renowned pop artists in the world – would you not work with someone who is so well known? And what is the matter with following in someone’s footsteps – someone who Lady Gaga actually admires as well, as she said in her SHOWstudio interview? I quote: “By meeting these people, I have discovered myself. My freedom. My security. Myself.”
Along with her fashion credits – which I am yet to take a look at – she writes that fashion is also a disease. In my opinion, I would say that she is meaning that both are very addictive and one could become obsessive over such things. With prejudice, people become so very close-minded that they lose sight of other people’s perception. They become consumed in their own ideologies. With fashion we often become consumed with a certain outlook upon what is fashionable and what is not – there is also that hunger for more fashion, more beauty, more extravagance. She makes it clear, however, that she will not wear prejudice which shows us her open-mindedness.
Nothing to do with my analysis of the video, but she crashed so many sites when her video was finally released on the 8th of June at 5pm. A few minutes before it was released to the world, Twitter repeatedly went Over Capacity. It wasn’t long until GagaDaily.com started showing their error message. And just for a second, LadyGaga.com also became Forbidden. I was really quite worried that it wouldn’t be back up in time! Thankfully it was and I think that a large proportion of the world stopped for 8 minutes 43 seconds to watch the video. It is now officially 3 days since she released the video and there are already over 12 million views.
The Actual Video
I think that I should start as chronologically as possible. We begin with block white writing saying Gaga, Klein and then Alejandro against a black background. Between these scenes of writing, we see men, army men, sleeping and the first man is wearing tights – perhaps emphasising the change of gender roles in this music video – Gaga becoming more boyish, the men becoming more feminine. She has adopted quite a boyish look for this video and I don’t think there are any females in this video except her. The music is quite haunting, everything is dark and it reminds me of some kind of post-apocalyptic world, like something you might see if Zdzisław Beksiński’s work was somehow part of the present world. HR Giger is another artist who comes to mind when seeing her video. The men in the video are wearing military outfits custom made by Emporio Armani.
All of the soldiers are sleeping, except one and that one, I believe, is Alejandro, because he reappears at the end of the video, with blurry edges around his scenes, as if he is the one who has died. Why is he awake though, whilst the others sleep? I am guessing that it might be to show how he is different from the others, something troubles his mind – he cannot sleep. He comes into focus as the camera pans across to him and his face seems to be distraught, very pensive, very melancholic.
It turns to darkness and then there is the sound of a light switching on and we see the soldiers carrying various symbols of faith. We see something reminiscent of the Star of David and also the pyramid – which in my eyes represent Judaism and Kemeticism (or some of the other mystical religions). As the soldiers mark around, they stamp and move in very exaggerated motions. If you look away from the video, the sounds they make with their feet sound almost like gun shots which reinforce the war imagery in this video. So far, we have seen war imagery and religious imagery. A sudden flash has came into my head, these symbols are symbols which are seen nowadays, but they have been changed – almost elaborated which could suggest that this video is set in the future, which is what the rest of it suggests. Maybe several hundred years from now, these could be the symbols of our religion. As they march, they wear, high waisted shorts and masks by Haus of Gaga. The metal body structures are designed by Dinner and the studded glasses are made by Kerin Rose, whilst the military boots are made by Armani once again.
Finally, we see Lady Gaga in her binocular head piece which was designed by Nasir Mazhar and the cape which was created by the late Alexander McQueen. This is one of the designs which makes me believe this video is set in the future – it’s almost like a cybergoth’s style of dress. It is at this point when the music we have heard for Alejandro plays. The scenes then swap between Lady Gaga in the Mazhar head piece and her carrying the pillow with a heart upon it which has an A on top of it made from barbed wire which most likely represents Alejandro. It is also pierced with a nail which brings in more Christian symbolism for it reminds us of the Sacred Heart. As the procession goes on, Lady Gaga wears a Lace outfit custom-made by Alexander McQueen and a rose headdress by Philip Treacy, purposely designed for Alexander McQueen. Everything is bleak and there are shots of Lady Gaga where she runs her fingers over her lips – almost as if she wants to eat the heart which immediately reminds me of Monster. Right after this, we hear the marching once more and cheers seem to rise up from the crowd. From what I see, this might be the end of the war, but there have been many casualties and therefore between these shots, we see the funeral procession. It highlights to us the horrors of war – how many innocent people are killed, how amongst all of the people who fight for our country, there are still many who we do not know of. Sometimes we are so much more concerned about the utilitarianisism-based ideas that we forget about the individual and the communal suffering when loved ones die.
“Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” is a line which springs to mind, personally, I find that there are so many people who risk their lives for something which the government says is necessary or beneficial, when in actual truth, it’s not. It is like a lie which we are being fed – trying to warp our perception of other people and places. I feel that this is one of the main messages in the Alejandro video.
Evandro Soldati is the name of the guy who sits on the bed. (He is Alejandro, right? I can never seem to recognise people’s faces.) He is wearing a studded helmet by Mouton Collet and notice how there are strings all around them. In my opinion, this represents how people are being controlled, almost like puppets, dancing to the rhythm of religious doctrines or to government ideologies. He holds a gun in his hand, placed right on his crotch. It seems to me that this is showing how people view sex almost like a weapon. Far too often, when men are promiscuous, they are seen as the “sick guy” but when women do it, they are ridiculed and labelled “slut” and “whore”. Feminism has been a key theme in Gaga’s music and I feel that we see it here as well.
Soon enough, we see the procession once again and it is finally here, 2 minutes in, when we hear the song being sung. She speaks with a Spanish accent, “I know that we are young and I know that you may love me, but I just can’t be with you like this anymore, Alejandro…” Originally, just looking at the lyrics, it sounds like the girl is just confused about her relationship, she doesn’t know who she wants, between Alejandro, Fernando and Roberto. But in the video, it appears as if Alejandro has died – she has to move on. Perhaps this is the true meaning of the song? That a woman who has lost her loved one finds it hard to move away?
Lady Gaga sits, holding her pipe whilst she watches the dancers in the next scene and soon sings “She’s got both hands in her pocket, And she won’t look at you, Won’t look at you, She hides true love en su bosillo, She’s got a halo around her finger, Around you” The words “su bosillo” means “her pocket” or “her purse” in Spanish which gives of the impression that she tries to hide her love. She cherishes it but also wants to discover herself sexually with the other men at the same time as Alejandro, or from what the video suggests, after Alejandro. This could also mean that she cherishes the true love she has had for Alejandro – these new men aren’t the right ones for her.
As she sings these lines, we see shots of the dancers and in the background, there is a screen with a fire which probably depicts the war. The scenes alternate between the dancers and Lady Gaga and we hear her sing “You know that I love you boy, Hot like Mexico, rejoice, At this point I’ve gotta choose, Nothing to lose, Don’t call my name, Don’t call my name, Alejandro, I’m not your babe, I’m not your babe, Fernando, Don’t wanna kiss, don’t wanna touch, Just smoke my cigarette and hush. Don’t call my name, Don’t call my name, Roberto. ” These lines could be interpreted to mean how she wants to get away from the men, but they act as if they own her. They repress her, but she just wants to smoke her cigarette and hush. This could be talking about men and how people often perceive them as more lustful, in comparison to women.
She says that there is “nothing to lose” but she has got to choose which contrasts against all of these men who want her. This bit reminds me of a little part in Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” where she writes “This woman lawyer said the best men wanted to be pure for their wives, and even if they weren’t pure, they wanted to be the ones to teach their wives about sex. Of course they would try to persuade a girl to have sex and say they would marry her later, but as soon as she gave in, they would lose all respect for her and start saying that if she did that with them she would do that with other men and they would end up by making her life miserable.” This seems to be very similar to the message Lady Gaga is talking about in this song.
We often see a mix of female and male dancers, but this time, all of them are male. They seem to be quite close together, but their dancing seems to be a lot rougher, much more vicious than the dancing we would usually see. The men hold hands and often get quite close to each which brings out the homoerotic undertones which run throughout the song. In the background, we see more moving images of the war, there is fire and fighting. Soon, the dancers are in pairs and they seem to throw their partner onto the floor – it appears very violent and this is one point where the music does become very loud.
The next major scene change is with Lady Gaga in the red nun outfit made by Atsuko Kudo whilst she has the rosary beads around her hands as if she was praying to God. The rosary was designed by Pamela Love. “Stop. Please. Just let me go. Alejandro. Just let me go.” This line seems to be her trying to get away from Alejandro, it sounds as if he is trying to force her to do something, but she is unwilling to do it. As she says “Alejandro”, she raises up her hands from her chest, as if praying to him – she seems to be trying her best to get away, begging him almost, but with utmost respect. Is this because men expect women to follow their rule? To me, I think this bit deals with more of the feminist ideas, how women should be free to express their own opinions.
At this point, the swapping of gender roles is much more apparent. Lady Gaga is on the bed, on top of the man who is wearing heels by Pleaser – just like all the other men. Lady Gaga is wearing underwear by Calvin Klein and black heels by Christian Louboutin. Her stockings are by Agent Provocateur. There is rope tied to the bed which seems to show how people are bound by stereotypes and expectations that society puts upon them. Moreover, we turn back to the scene with Lady Gaga and the rosary beads, she starts to unwind them from her hand and she is singing “She’s not broken, She’s just a baby. But her boyfriend’s like a dad, just like a dad. And all those flames that burned before him. Now he’s gonna fight your fight, gonna cool the bad.” (I’m a little unsure about the last 3 lines here.) This reminds me even more of Sylvia Plath – her father was not the most pleasant of men and largely restrained her during the 8 years that he was in her life for. Then, when she met Hughes, he was just as cruel, leaving her for another woman and restricting her sexually.
The dancing is all quite sexually provocative and there is one point where the dancing imitates a handjob. The gender roles change quite a lot once again, with Lady Gaga imitating a man whilst she has frottage with the man. There are several other sex positions that she portrays in her video and this is probably one of the bits which people have found most shocking. I find that it expresses homosexual intercourse in a more rough way compared to heterosexual intercourse – but we must also remember that it isn’t homosexual intercourse being depicted, but an inverted form of heterosexual love. We could possibly say that this is how women are being treated by men.
We soon see Lady Gaga in the rubber outfit made by Jaiden rVa James and the platform shoes by Noritaka Tatehana. On her rubber outfit, the cross appears to be inverted and I am sure that there will be some rumours about her being a devil worshipper now. All the men are lying on the floor and it is Gaga who stands in the centre of them, as if she was the leader which we do not often see in mixed groups of people, especially organised groups. The hierarchy is nearly always with a male right at the top. She covers her eye when we look at her from the side profile and then once again when we see her face-on. Illuminati interpretations will run high with this, along with the pyramid we saw at the beginning. The men then throw her up and the pattern on her garment looks like a phallus which is another link to the idea of genders. She has had rumours which says she has a penis, but instead of denying it straight away, she has continuously played with this idea; as we seen in the Q magazine, the Telephone video, and here.
NOW! This bit is another hugely controversial part of the video. This bit is actually played backwards because you can see that the rosary swings into her mouth, which surely wouldn’t happen. However, in the video, we see her swallowing it – quite violently as well. I interpret this to mean how we are sometimes fed the doctrines of a religion. There are often times when someone else tries to force feed their ideas upon another. One of the most significant ideologies which are being fed is religion, but as Gaga said “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.”
In my opinion, one of the meanings behind this song is the dislike towards being indoctrinated. So often are we told that war is good and so we fall into the trap which results in so many innocent people dying on both sides which are never clearly in the wrong or in the right. Many Catholics disagree with homosexuality which is one of things Gaga finds difficult to figure out which is understandable. If someone has been raised to believe in a certain ideology, they would find it extremely difficult to look at something from a different point of view. To me, Gaga’s video is meant to provoke our thoughts, particularly with religion and homosexuality. Many Catholics find it offensive that she swallows the rosary beads, but I believe that she chose this symbol because it was personally related to her, however, I would argue that her message can be imposed on any religion, whether it is Christianity, Kemeticism, Judaism, Islam, Paganism, Shintoism etc. To me, all she is trying to say is that believing solely your religion is the right one is the wrong kind of belief because this is what causes prejudice.
The next scene we see is much calmer and much less shocking, I would say. Lady Gaga really loves to make statements and I think that is one thing which I truly admire about her. She is unafraid of making such widely controversial statements because she understands that if we do not expose prejudices and injustices for what they really are, there would not be a revolution, there would not be the more peaceful world we all wish for. Her black vest is by Dolce & Gabbana and then her black pants are designed by Francesco Scognamiglio. The men now march in much more feminine fashion, in comparison to the more rigid stamping we saw at the beginning. Everything seems more subdued for a moment – maybe this is a signification of change, of a more peaceful world.
This view seems to be shattered though because we then see Lady Gaga wearing the gun bra custom made by David Samuel Menkes. This, just like the gun near Evandro’s crotch is another message telling us that sex is a very powerful weapon. However, I don’t think that she is only talking about sex here, instead, I think she talking about women as a whole. I believe she is saying that women are just as strong as men, that they should have equal rights and not be treated or seen as inferior. A strange interpretation would be that breasts are like the man’s phallus and again we see a major change in the binary gender idea. Her hermaphroditic rumours may have influenced this scene.
In the following scene, we see Lady Gaga in her leather jacket designed by Hussein Chalayan, platform shoes created by Noritaka Tatehana again and the underwear is made by Rigby & Peller. Her vintage sunglasses are designed by Versace. She appears very manly in this scene, she looks as if she has been taken out from some rock band. At this point, we also see more crosses behind her. When we see her in her nun outfit, there are loads of rosaries on the table which could represent how people often use so many symbols for their religion, that they forget the true meaning of it. It is not meant to be an external thing, religion and religious belief is much more personal and internal. This could show us how we focus a lot more on displaying religion, rather than discovering ourselves through religion. There are clips from quite a few of the past scens and it seems as if she is reminiscing those times. There is a soldier who appears to be sleeping on the sofa. Or maybe he is dead? Is he Alejandro? There are quite a few of them, but we do not see them as many times as the one on the left on the sofa. In the clips, the men are now much closer to each other.
That guy right at the end, he is not Evandro, right? Evandro has darker hair – maybe this is the Alejandro she sings about, these are her memories that flash back. Perhaps this is where she remembers her sexual freedom and her youth which is now taken away because of Alejandro’s death. Lady Gaga has also feared falling in love because, like Blake wrote in Introduction, as soon as he began to write, he “stained the water clear” which could signify how loving someone seems to remove all the artistic quality there was about pining for another and unrequited love. This guy right at the end seems to be watching them – he looks upset, as if he wants to join them, but can not because he belongs with Lady Gaga. The men in the background do actually kiss and the guy takes his hat off, almost as if submitting to the truth that he is gay. Then we see fire and it reminds me of the Salem Witch Trials, how many people were being persecuted because of suspicions from the society around them.
That brief gap between her gun bra scenes appear to be memories, or at least events which have happened in the eye of the man that we see. The final scenes are also very interesting, Lady Gaga is thrown around in her rubber outfit by the men. It seems so painful! I hope that she wasn’t too bruised after all that. I interpret this scene to mean how some men do use women just as sex objects and do not actually care for them. It is as if they could take them and then leave them as if they were of no importance. The men then all gather around her and now, they seem to want her, all at the same time. She resists for a while, but eventually, she lets them take her and oh my gosh, one of the guys, at 8:17 really cannot keep a straight face. As she takes of her outfit, he looks so shocked and so happy – it seems to reinforce the idea that some men are extremely lustful.
Right at the end, we see Evandro with the gun again but no hat (could this be a suggestion of peace? or some kind of resolution to the problem?) and Lady Gaga is lying on the bed, deadly pale. The sounds goes off and we zoom near her face until it disintegrates. In my interpretation, I believe that this shows us how religion, when used and performed incorrectly, can be a poison, a disease which will “in the general censure take corruption from that particular fault”. And so, we end with the quite frightening and ghoulish face which still sends chills down my spine and a flurry of questions which remain to be answered.
Without a doubt, this music video portrays many different messages, some of which may offend, but I believe that it has only enlightened us to some of the most important issues in our current society.
[People, I haven’t had time to proofread this, so please tell me if you spot any mistakes. I would love to hear what you say. Email me at email@example.com. And I know this is long… it’s kind of bad, I am doing this right in the middle of my exams. I included some Blake and Hamlet though – they are for my English exam next week. Anyways, I hope you managed to get through that.]
[Here are other links to my article: