Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dear Gaga, Violence Against Women is NOT SEXY

So for the past three days, I’ve had Lady Gaga running on loop in my head. I’ve tried to treat the condition with a concoction of Joni Mitchel, Belle & Sebastian, and Regina Spektor (equally addictive, but less annoying) but alas Gaga isn’t going anywhere. To make matters worse, the video for paparazzi is also playing on loop in my head.

Now, normally this would be Vanessa’s blog topic (Sexual health Sundays) but I felt the need to speak out about the sexualized violence in Lady Gaga’s video, "Paparazzi." Now, I won’t pretend to understand what exactly Lady Gaga’s video is about, but here’s my brief synopsis of it:

Lady Gaga is some sort of wealthy figure in some idyllic foreign location (Gagaland?) She is in a luxurious bed with a greasy-haired lover. The next twenty seconds is softcoreporn (a lot of bum groping and groaning). AND THEN Gaga’s greasy-haired male lover insists that they make out on the nearby balcony (he of course being in the dominant standing position, her being propped up like a doll on the rail). Suddenly, a clicking sound! The paparazzi is taking pictures from below! Lady Gaga struggles to get away, but the greasy-haired boyfriend will not let her go. She urges him to “Stop,” and asks him “What are you doing?” She struggles to escape, but the greasy-haired boyfriend forces her in place. Lady Gaga hits him over the head with a conveniently located wine bottle. He pushes her off the edge of the balcony. What follows is a confusing 15 seconds of Gaga falling in a black and white spirally time-travel vortex, (?) whilst making sexual noises and nibbling at her hands. The next shot is of her positioned sexily on the ground,mangled, her breasts nearly popping out of her tiny bodice, pearl necklace in her mouth, as the papparazi swarms around shouting “beautiful, beautiful!”

The rest of the video (which is increasingly perplexing)features images of apparently dead women in various sexualized settings (a sexy bunny in a bathtub, a sexy nurse bleeding from her head, a sexy women in heels hanging from the ceiling of a mansion) All these images flash in between scenes of lady Gaga making out with a bevy of skinny blonde women on a couch.

Oh yeah, and by the end of the music video the prison system is made sexy too! After poisoning her boyfriend, Lady Gaga is arrested in a little black bodice (which I guess is supposed to signify her fall from innocence to deviance. Her struggle with the police is coquettish. As icing on the cake, there's her panty shot in the back of a cop-car, and the high fashion mug shot. Is anyone else nauseated by this?

The reality is that this glamorizing and sexualizing of violence against women is all too common. It’s kind of become an old story in the feminist world. Its everywhere: In our music videos, movies, porn, and advertising. Need I remind anyone of the “gang bang” Dolce & Gabonna campaign , or the Wrangler “we are animals” campaign, or the infamous American’s Next Top Model “murdered women” shoot?

A 2007 documentary by Sut Jhally entitled Dreamworlds 3: Desire, Sex, and Power in Music Video looks at how music videos are a cultural text that creates and reinforces notions of what it sexy, and how we should behave as “men” and “women.” His documentary makes clear that these "sexy" images of violated women contributes to a culture of male entitlement to female bodies, and the legitimization of sexual violence against women.

I'm so sick of this. So let me spell this out: SEXUAL ABUSE IS NOT SEXY. MURDERING WOMEN IS NOT SEXY. NEVER. OK?

But, I want to end things on a positive note. If you need to purge yourself of all this Gaga-ness, please check out my favorite parody of "Paparazzi" so far. This woman is amazing :)

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