by Joseph Mastando
Lady Gaga has once again made headlines for her scandalous and outrageous behaviors, but it seems her recent performance art involving vomit has drawn just the right amount of attention to release her newest music video for “G.U.Y.”
For 11 minutes and 45 seconds, Gaga pays homage to Greek mythology, a common thread weaved throughout “Artpop”; but more importantly, Gaga uses these Greek motifs as a device to instruct women on how to gain power in society.
You may be asking, “How do the catty Housewives of Bravo promote feminism?” But don’t worry, we’ll get to all of this video’s feminist mystique.
The video begins with the title track off of Gaga’s most recent album. Yes, that sounds strange, but this “ARTPOP film” incorporates multiple songs from her album aside from “G.U.Y.” However, don’t get distracted by the clever and contemporary advertising scheme; the video becomes increasingly three-dimensional as it progresses.
With wings strapped to her back and her body intricately painted in shades of red, brown, and purple, Gaga appears on screen among a crowd of businessmen who fight to grab money falling from the sky. She lies on the ground wounded, but rises once the men leave, crawling in the dirt of a wasteland and pulling an arrow from her chest.
Gaga clearly resembles a supernatural being—some winged mythological creature—and becomes struck by the arrow, an arrow seemingly belonging to an erotes, a winged Greek god of love. Sounds complex, but bear with me.
This assumption becomes confirmed when, after being carried through a castle of Greek architecture, Gaga begins singing “G.U.Y.” while addressing Himeros, the Greek god of sexual desire. Himeros, the son of Aphrodite and twin brother of Eros (Cupid), is one of the erotes and, like his brother, is often depicted holding a bow and arrow.
After being struck by the arrow, Gaga limps to a castle where she undergoes a ritualistic baptism, a religious ceremony from which she becomes converted into a sexually driven being—a result of Himeros’ arrow. As the background dancers’ costumes transform from all black to all white, Gaga transitions from darkness and pain to purity and salvation.
In an almost “Rocky Horror”esque fashion, the video then takes Gaga through a series of swimming pools, scenes containing promiscuous and complex choreography, and wardrobe changes gilded in gold while creating the formula for the perfect man…or guy, rather.
Lady Gaga in the “G.U.Y.” music video. (Video courtesy of Interscope Records)
The video concludes as Gaga fully transforms into a female form of the erotes, a deity in herself, wielding a crossbow and a winged headpiece. She infiltrates the workplace of the businessmen whose chaos graces the beginning of the short film, and takes over, driving the men mad by launching money at them and attacking those occupying a higher command. Though the video may seem unorganized and disheveled, the idea of women employing strength and power compliments the themes of gender flopping that Gaga writes in “G.U.Y.”
“G.U.Y.” stands for “girl under you.” The song communicates a message of women taking control of sexual experiences with men. In the refrain of the chorus, Gaga repeats, “I wanna be that G.U.Y.” In the pre-chorus, Gaga correlates this sexual dominance with masculine identity and power: “I’m gonna wear the tie, want the power to leave you. I’m aiming for full control of this love.”
In contrast, Gaga denotes men as “G.I.R.Ls” and compares their inferiority to femininity: “I’m gonna say the word and own you. You’ll be my G.I.R.L. Guy I’m romancin’ loves to hold you. Know, you’ll wear my make-up well.”
Lisa Vanderpump, Kim and Kyle Richards, Yolanda Foster, and Carlton Gebbia from “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” make cameo appearances in the video along with Bravo network star Andy Cohen. In the same vein of Gaga collaborating with R. Kelly to amplify the themes found in her recent single “Do What U Want,” Gaga brings in high-class women to strengthen the motif of feminine power.
And when considering all of this, the implications hidden behind the phrase “girl under you” seem less sexual than readily perceived. Just as “Do What U Want” seemingly discusses sex, but actually refers to the media making false and exaggerated claims of Lady Gaga, “G.U.Y” could imply the status of women in society, stuck beneath men. And who better than housewives to extricate this theme?
Is Gaga telling women to embody their overwhelmingly and stereotypically sexualized personas in order to gain power? I think yes. It falls align with the purpose of her album “Artpop,” which takes art and infuses it beneath pop and all that sells in the market. In this case: sex.
And thus, this Greek ritual of a woman claiming her inherent sexuality becomes necessary for her to gain power.
What Gaga will do next will forever be a mystery, but for now, just appreciate the understated artistry found in this scandalous and thought-provoking video. So long as you can overlook the vomit.