Lady Gaga: Born This Way (Video Analysis)

It doesn’t matter if you love goo, or capital G-o-o, ’cause baby…it’s the video premiere for Lady Gaga‘s “Born This Way”!

First things first, I’ll eat your brains…and really, this is the bulk of it: The introduction.

Just prior to our crash landing onto G.O.A.T. (a Government Owned Alien Territory in space, of course), we’re given the Mother Monster Manifesto, which is really sort of a long-winded, gorgeously styled way of saying “In the future, we will all look the same, have pointy shoulders and love each other without prejudice.”

But of course, nothing says love better than witnessing a gooey, kaleidoscopic live birth taking place in two separate realms of the universe.

And so, as the Eternal Mother gives birth to The New Race from above, so too does Evil spring forth from the womb of the underworld. “How can I protect something so perfect without evil?” Gaga prompts us, ushering in the rest of the video.

Gaga references nearly a dozen or more pop culture influences in the opening scenes, as MTV so neatly laid out in their “Pop Culture Cheat Sheet”–from Superman to Greek god Janus to Alexander McQueen.

If you ask me though, I might nerd out enough to argue that the introduction lifts from the Six Realms of Existence born from Tibetan Buddhism, an ideology which essentially dictates that there are six states of being that we are continuously born into before attaining nirvana–ranging from the lowest depths–the beings in Hell–to the highest, being the Deva (or Gods).

And so here we have Godga. For me, I might even postulate that Gaga fancies herself to be BuddhaGa, given the circle of lotus flowers and her seated pose. (Although to be fair, I’ve yet to see The Enlightened One sitting with his legs in stirrups.)

On the opposite end, we have Devilga, looking a bit Sin City as the tortured souls swirl beneath her almighty machine gun.

And so, the New Race is born from the Gaga’s vagaga, and from it, they dance.

Well, they sort of do. Like, a jittery-spasm dance. The dancing is, well–it sort of depends on how you’d like to look at it. Like the performance at the Grammy Awards, it’s not a pretty or sexy kind of dance–it’s kind of violent and forced to a LOL-able, baby-giraffe-learning-to-walk-on-its-legs way, but it’s also quite innovative at the same time.

Sprinkled throughout the extended dance routines are moments of the bizarre and grotesque; namely the suited-up skeleton duo (with Zombie Boy) and the jars-of-heads sequence. No doubt meant to enhance the video’s aesthetic rather than provide a single plot point, these sequences give the video some added texture in the mythology of constructing the New Race.

At some point toward the end, everyone starts getting gooey with each other. The dancers all begin sloshing around and relishing in their Mother Monster’s juices and…I’m sorry, I’m getting ill.

And then, the final moment: Gaga’s final few seconds in “Born This Way” are a stark turn from the main plot, as she’s seen dancing in the dark with sparkling white gloves (Michael Jackson) and crying a lone tear while staring at the camera, gap-toothed. (Madonna). Don’t cry for me, Gagavita!

Whether she’s tipping her hat to the King and Queen of Pop or simply asserting her own place amongst them, there’s no question that the singer is referencing these two musical icons (and self-professed inspirations) in the final seconds of her clip.

Apart from the fairly common complaint that the video is all simply too much at once, one of the larger criticisms I’ve seen cast against the video is that it’s just too “ugly.”

Indeed, Gaga takes extra care to revel in the obscure in the clip for “Born This Way” (although the svelte figure she flaunts during the dance scenes could be taken by some to be rather sexy.) But this is, by far, the weakest criticism of “Born This Way”: Gaga’s made no attempt to hide the fact that she has no desire to fit the conventional pop star mold; the ugliness is meant to illustrate a story, not just to look pretty.

If there’s a stronger criticism to be made about “Born This Way,” it’s that for casual fans who don’t necessarily consider themselves “monsters”–between the Mother Monster Manifesto, the God imagery, the paws, claws, occult symbolism (triangles) and everything else in between–Gaga’s increasingly intense devotion to branding her fan base can come across as somewhat alienating–or perhaps even cult-ish.

With such a colorful song as “Born This Way,” a self-celebratory anthem celebrating people of all walks of life, it seems all the more out-of-place that Gaga would choose to illustrate the song with such a decidedly stark, ghoulish experience.

Still, “Born This Way” succeeds in further establishing Gaga as mainstream pop’s leading pioneer: It isn’t actually LIKE any other video really, excluding her own work (there are shades of “Bad Romance,” “Telephone” and “Alejandro” sprinkled throughout). And for a video based around a song mired in such “copycat” controversy, Gaga has without question succeeded in crafting something that ultimately stands as original.

The direction too is especially refreshing, courtesy of frequent collaborator, Nick Knight. Far from the Jonas Akerlund jump cuts of “Paparazzi” and “Telephone,” “Born This Way” is a fluid, well-paced clip free from product placement or distracting new cinematic techniques (though still thoroughly cutting-edge, as demonstrated in the gorgeous opening scene.)

While it may not go on to be her defining iconic moment, has Gaga provided something worthwhile in “Born This Way”? Without question. Aside from providing a clip that meshes provocative visuals with a hard-hitting dance sequence, Gaga’s fulfilled her most basic duty as a pop star: She’s given us something to discuss, loaded with potential interpretations regarding a whole host of issues; about equality, race, religion, and all that’s in between (her legs).

Then again, we could all just stop beating around the bush and acknowledge what this video is really all about:

Illuminati propaganda: The New World Order rises!

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