When I was trying to take the GRE Subject Test, Lady GaGa’s song “Paparazzi” kept making its way into my head, instead of what was in front of me: Dryden, probably. Like many folks, I’m intrigued by, attracted to, and scratching my head about Lady GaGa’s persona and the narratives in her performances.
This afternoon I watched and re-watched her music video for “LoveGame” after watching her version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” (performed at the 13th National Dinner of the Human Rights Campaign). There she says “us” when she talks to the audience. Thankfully, she never uses the word “ally,” which, in my mind, has unfortunate and undesirable connotations. She was fairly inarticulate at the rally, or rather, if not inarticulate, she’s by no stretch an inspirational speaker. But her music video for “LoveGame” is sufficiently queer for my tastes.
The first shots on the subway car—man 1 scopes out man 2. These cuts could simply establish man 1 and 2 as tough guys, but what for? They’re totally checking each other out. For a brief second, man 2 looks down. Coy eye aversion after too long eye-contact? Letting his cruiser know he’s game? This is how we read scenes in movies all the time, making connections across images to make narrative. And here are these two men—legs wide—with what’s behind their hands, between their legs, alluded to in the cut between, the silver turnstiles lining their horizon.
The next scene is a parking garage, which culminates in GaGa’s own threesome while the rest of the men end up handcuffed by police. GaGa manages to not get arrested and find a queer, gender-bending cop. The only one on the scene? Doubtful. Sex in the subway, men in leather, and master/ servant fantasies—it doesn’t take much to see the queer-love games.
When GaGa’s making out with the cop, she sings: “it always starts with a boy and a girl and a huh and a game.” Before this, “huh” serves to cover up a word that refers to the goods (cock, pussy, we don’t know; it’s “huh”). Similarly, when she says “huh” is what “it” (the game) always starts with, what is “huh” code for? A boy and a girl and a what? Something and/or someone unsayable, perhaps?
“LoveGame” seems, yes, to refer to the kinds of colloquial “games” people play in love: dishonesty, infidelity, blah, blah, blah. But GaGa’s game is more like role-playing, not a metaphor, but games in the sack or the subway or the parking garage or the bench in a locker room. Games beyond one-on-one, heterosexual sex. Ones that involve “heavy-petting” and a “disco stick.” It could be a euphemism, but what’s fun about that? Better is a cop baton, strap-on, or her own wizard-like phallus with a large light on the end.
And all these men holding their cocks at the end—because of who? GaGa? the guys? the “huh”?
Of course there are plenty of ways GaGa reinforces all kinds of undesirable nastiness, but we already know that. I don’t expect much from stars, so when they do wield their disco sticks in a possibly queer game, why not throw a sparkly scarf on your head, strap on some suspenders, and dance with the turnstile, while you still can?