Monday, December 5, 2011

Marry the Night: Personal, Inclusive & Bold

Minna:  Did you watch the premier of Lady GaGa's Marry the Night video on E?  We did.  Some of you may have already found it leaked on the internet, but I'm a bit of a romantic.  To me, there is nothing quite like the magic of gathering around a television screen, is there?

Both Gregory & I loved the video (even us besties can disagree!).  I have already stated my reasons for cherishing Marry the Night at the end of our NYC post, but the direction that Lady GaGa would take in her 13-minute mini-movie remained unknown to me.  What she created was a dramatization of a painful chapter of her past: the time she was dumped by Island Def Jam Records and the process of revitalizing herself after losing it all.  "I'm gonna be a star," she confides in her audience, "because I have nothing left to lose."

Above all, Marry the Night is personal.  We have all been there, naked, sprawled out on the floor, covered in cheerios (or our staplemark food of choice) thrashing and wailing and hitting rock bottom.  Lady GaGa seems to know this; she is a very maternal woman.  The Lady has over 16 million little monsters to care for for pete's sake!  In Marry the Night, she gathers all of us around her metaphorical rocking chair - be it the computer or TV screen - and shares with us her tragic and triumphant lessons of life.  Lady GaGa lets us in.

I may be a music-lover, but above all, I am a history nerd.  I am known to dream about Madeline Albright, but never about POP stars.  And last night, I had a dream featuring Lady GaGa.  I dreamt that I was back teaching English in the Middle East & I needed a friend.  I picked up the phone & called Lady GaGa, who counseled me to enjoy my adventure & have faith in my future career path.  Half-way through the dream, after I had "hung up" on my imaginary Lady GaGa, I realized "Shit... was I just on the phone with Lady GaGa?"  In my dream, I called her for advice, as though she was my neighborhood mentor.  That is how personal Marry the Night was for me.

Gregory:  Something GaGa said in her pre-interview really struck me. The video displays her reality, which is NOT true reality.  Rather, it's half-way between what actually happened and fantasy.  GaGa's imagination and creativity plays a significant role in the video.  For example, in real life, the Lady died her hair blonde when her second (and current) record label, Interscope, told her that doing so would make her more marketable, but in the video, we see GaGa die her hair blonde after an exorcism of sorts in her New York apartment.  The change in hair color represents a cleansing and fresh start for the woman who now has to work her way back up (to a new record deal).  When we see her enter the ballet/dance school, not only is she blonde, but she's also wearing bedazzled denim attire that is reminiscent of early Madonna, pre-Marilyn Monroe/True Blue era.  In one of her early interviews (which I won't bother finding - it's somewhere on Youtube) given right before Just Dance was released, GaGa spoke about flying to Hollywood and sitting in the Interscope waiting room, where she was about to be signed.  She stated how everyone was offering her coffee and being supremely courteous, which made her feel like Madonna being signed to Sire Records in 1982.  I bet that GaGa was fantasizing at that very moment, pretending to be her MADGEsty at the start of her career.  Lady GaGa's admiration for Madonna is once again made clear in this particular scene of the video - I'm sure the look was intentionally constructed as a fantastical reference to POP's reigning Queen of the last 25 years.

GaGa's videos have always be over-the-top, but with the Born This Way album, they seemed to be more focused on shock-value than on glammed-up emotion.  Like many others, I liked the Poker Face and Love Game videos and loved the Paparazzi, Bad Romance, Telephone, and Alejandro videos, a few of which sizzled with symbolism of society's flaws and injustices.  That symbolism didn't go away with the Born This Way, Judas, Edge of Glory, and You & I videos, but those projects were so busy that any sparkling aspects went unnoticed amidst all the distracting glare.  With Marry the Night, GaGa's creative abilities seem more focused.  The video is utterly emotional for all the reasons Minna stated, and GaGa looks more beautiful than ever, ripe with fashion and cultural validity.  GaGa is super glam in her sparkling silver platforms, blonde pony (yet another reference to Madonna circa the 1990 Blonde Ambition World tour), and Grace Jones / Isabella Blow-esque larger-than-life hats, leather-ware, and shimmery blue lipstick (which she wears much better than Ke$ha. Sorry, K-dollah!).

It is worth mentioning the direction GaGa could have taken with this video.  She could have paraded around NYC flaunting a new height of heels, blinding us with glitter and other irrelevant pizazz.  But that is not what Lady GaGa created.  Instead we have a 13-minute emotional masterpiece that is personal, inclusive & bold.  Some may call it pretentious or over-the-top.  We call it une pièce d'art sympathique.


Gregory & Minna 

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