Born this Woah: Going Gaga for New Video

Sarp Yavuz, Staff Writer

Through a neon pink triangle emerges a unicorn of space and stars. The leitmotif from Hitchcock’s Vertigois playing in the background. Another pink triangle descends over the image of the unicorn, and this time we see a blond, masked figure. The camera turns over to reveal that the mask is the back of Lady Gaga’s head, and a voiceover drones, “This is the manifesto of Mother Monster.”

Sitting in front of large crystal shards, Lady Gaga has a large, rising hairdo, small horns on her forehead, cheekbone and shoulder extensions and an eyeball over her chin. The image has the distinct feel of Fritz Lang’sMetropolis with Gaga a more human version of Ridley Scott’s Alien Queen. The chin-eye is a reference to Madonna’s “Bedtime Stories” video, where the pop icon had a mouth instead of her left eye and vice versa. As for the mask on the back of Gaga’s head, MTV News’ James Montgomery interpreted it as a symbol of Janus, the two-faced Roman god of time, beginnings and endings. This is only the first 20 seconds of the video for “Born This Way.”

Stars outline the image of a uterus, and Gaga narrates, “On G.O.A.T, a Government Owned Alien Territory in space, a birth of magnificent and magical proportions took place.” It is made clear that she is not, in fact, sitting on a throne (the way she did at the start of “Bad Romance” and “Alejandro”) but on a kind of futuristic, glammed-up OB/GYN chair with her legs spread. She nearly spares us the graphic trauma by adding the kaleidoscope effect to a very sticky “infinite” birthing sequence, in which she gives birth to “a race within the race of humanity, a race which bears no prejudice, no judgment, but boundless freedom.” They are visualized as a series of wax heads molded to resemble her, placed on a large glass plate. Gaga’s head is sticking out of the glass plate as well, and she looks around to the other heads. When she sang “Vogue” on her Reinvention Tour, Madonna played a video of her head sticking out of a glass cage in the background. Gaga’s version features an anime-style line of flowers spiraling down from her space- age birthing seat and transforming into a kaleidoscopic of images of women — reminiscent of James Bond opening sequences.

Things take a turn toward the dark side when Gaga mentions that evil was also born the same day, and we see a black and white image of the singer sitting on a chair with stirrups that have jagged- edged extensions thrusting downward — still in the same visual vein as Metropolis. Gaga this time gives birth to a large assault rifle, accompanied by brief shots of fashion model Rick Genest, who is famous for being covered from head to toe in a skeletal tattoo. This isn’t Genest’s first appearance in the Gaga universe. This January, Genest starred in a video accompanying the House of Mugler Fashion Show, whose creative director is Haus of Gaga’s Nicola Formichetti.

We hear the narration continue as Gaga shoots the rifle. She muses that “the pendulum of choice began its dance,” implying that she would have to choose between good and evil. This reinforces the biblical nature of the album and hints at future videos — her next single is called “Judas.” “But she wondered,” Gaga says, referring to herself in third person, “How can I protect something so perfect without evil?”

The main theme from Vertigo fades out, and the opening lines of “Born This Way” play as Gaga walks among a group of people on the floor facing down, imitating the position. With “My momma told me when I was young,” the dancers all rise and begin one of the most refreshingly entertaining dance sequences in recent Gaga history. The pitch-black backdrop shows that the dancers are also “Born This Way” with horns, protruding cheekbones and shoulder extensions.

The dance sequence continues throughout the video, but the initial moment is followed by a scene with Gaga and Rick Genest in which Gaga’s face, neck and hands are painted in a similar style to Genest’s tattoos. If Genest can be interpreted as the Evil Gaga mentioned earlier, then this sequence represents Gaga’s empathy. The scene coincides with the lyrics, “Give yourself prudence and love your friends,” further emphasizing the message of embracing everyone. Speaking of embracing, that is exactly what Gaga does in the next scene, where she is with a group of people all covered in purple and beige goo, moving around on the floor hugging each other.

Near the end of the video, we see Gaga dancing in a back alley with police lights flashing on her, followed by a sequence where her silhouette is darkened and only her white gloved hands are visible, a shout out to Michael Jackson that does not tie into anything else in the video. MTV’s James Montgomery interprets this as a tribute to Frank Miller’s Sin City, where a similar black and white effect produces a graphic novel vibe and one of the characters wears comparable gloves. We see a close up of Gaga’s face, and there is a tear in her eye just like the final scene of “Bad Romance.” But this time, Gaga displays a visible gap in her teeth, which is the most direct reference yet to Madonna.

Zooming out, the pink neon triangle frame comes back, and we can see that Gaga is riding the outer-space unicorn from the beginning of the video with a rainbow gleaming above them. The video ends with Gaga in skeletal tattoo makeup, popping bubble gum while staring at the camera, as if to say we shouldn’t take this video too seriously.

“Born This Way” is sadly hindered by the fact that there are times when the imagery is too graphic for its target demographic. Lady Gaga has mentioned repeatedly that she wants her Little Monster’s to free themselves and live without judgment, and while this song is a perfect reminder, I do not think kaleidoscopic birthing sequences are anywhere below PG-13. Having said that, the artistic references packed into this 7-minute extravaganza are skillfully blended with the song. It is a shocking video in the (mostly) positive sense of the word.