Looking at Lady Gaga’s ‘Telephone’ video, you can almost instantly tell that the producers are using postmodernism. But is this what Lady Gaga represents? Or what she’s merely making other people think she represents.
During the first few seconds of the video, the typography used resembles that used in ‘Pulp Fiction’ – also labelled as a postmodern film. The video uses ideas such as Diet Coke can used as curlers in Lady Gaga’s hair and also portrays the prison as a non-stereotypical prison; Gaga is creating a bricolage. This is due to the fact that the women inside the penitentiary who are prisoners are dressed provocatively and not in the symbolic strait-jackets and the women officers dress butch. The penitentiary shown shows an uncanny resemblance to the cells in Alcatraz, located on an island in San Francisco which portrays the setting as a hyper-real environment.
Gaga’s style throughout this video could be called postmodern but could also be described as merely stealing other producers ideas and turning them into her own. Within the video, we witness at least six costume changed. The iconic ones being the sharp bra (as seen on Madonna), unusual geometric designed dressed, including the purple veiled piece and the American flag outfit that both Gaga and Beyonce wear. This could be seen as high fashion – just like the famous meat dress – but it also could be seen as copying artists such as Madonna and on a much larger scale, David Bowie.
Both Gaga and Bowie have had a past of having androgynous traits. The public speculating about whether either of them was both male or female and this is shown in the ‘Telephone’ video when we hear one of the officers saying in the background “I told you she didn’t have a dick”. We can see Bowie show these traits to his highest capabilities in the video ‘Life on Mars?’ where he started the ‘Ziggy Stardust’ alias. In ‘Life on Mars?’ we see Bowie in full makeup: face powder, nail varnish, hair dye, eye shadow, eyeliner, lipstick and he’s also sporting a feminine tailored suit. Another one of Bowie’s music videos that is a perfect example would be the video to ‘Boys Keep Swinging’. Again, Bowie is head to toe dressed like a woman and just casually strolling down a catwalk. If we look at Bowie as a whole, we definitely see parts of him within Gaga’s persona. Other copycat ideas of Gaga’s would be making her ‘Telephone’ video much like that of a Tarantino film. We see a car that Lady Gaga and Beyonce get into that has ‘Pussy Wagon’ on it – a reference to the film ‘Kill Bill’.
For me, Lady Gaga is a postmodernist but she isn’t an authentic. The younger generation looks at her and sees a well renowned ‘artist’, famous for her ‘original’ ideas. The older generation – or the well educated in music-history – look at her and all they see are artists before her that tried and perfected that look. They see David Bowie. They see a copycat. And no one appreciates a copycat.