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the new Washington video: “How is it just like Lady Gaga?”

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The quote in the title is drawn from the comments section beneath Matt O’Neill’s article thoughts on the new Washington song, ‘Holy Moses’. It was made by director of the song’s promotional video, Stephen Lance, in response to criticism from various Collapse Board writers that the video is reminiscent of various Lady Gaga promotional videos.To get the full context of what follows, you should read the linked comments section. I have deliberately left off my written responses (and Hannah’s) because I don’t believe they’re necessary.

THE CASE FOR THE DEFENCE

Dear Hannah, I’m not sure how old you are, so I will try and be as kind as possible. You may not get the references because you may not know what they are…and this could be an age thing. You seem intent on some reductionist witch hunt to prove some glib little point about it being Gaga. So let me just outline some stuff for you, which you can either dismiss as Emperor’s New Clothes or you can actually pull your fucking head out of your arse and Everett’s arse and consider…

Firstly, the video is a combination of influences both cinematic, artistic and literary. There is the very basic reference of the Aloof sequence from the Bob Fosse musical ‘Sweet Charity’. Then there is the less obvious, but still significant reference of Fellini…particularly Satyricon. There is also some Cabaret in there, particularly the lighting refs and live stage component. In terms of the choreography, well it’s pretty much Fosse all the way, except with some Beyonce thrown in. But you might not know that Beyonce also takes inspiration from Fosse, like a lot of pop divas. Gaga…maybe. But probably not. That really isn’t the Fosse style. Let me direct you to All The Jazz.

In terms of costuming, the influences are the Aloof and Leigh Bowery from Taboo era, with a bit of Gaultier and Mugler thrown into a mystic pot. The gown is actually Bob Mackie 1970s original from NY. Now while this might not seem important to you, I would ask you to look closer at some of the details of what I’m saying. The devil is in the details. Gaga doesn’t go Mackie. Dietrich from the 1970s does. Cher from the early 80s does. But not Gaga.

In terms of a literary reference, it’s ‘fucking obviously’ Dante.

So while you may think it’s ‘fucking obvious’, and I have no doubt that you do. Someone smarter than you once said to every complex problem there is an obvious answer which is invariably wrong.

Next time you want to tear apart an artistic work and attack the artists behind it, at least have the respect to have a cogent argument at your side. At the very least, if you want to be a critic in the future, this sort of rigour will help you. Raise the bar. I know you live in Brisbane, but that’s no excuse for weak reasoning.

Please take your time to watch the references I’ve mentioned above and get back to me at your leisure.

Cheers

Stephen Lance, 16 August 2011, Collapse Board

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THE CASE FOR THE PROSECUTION

My only question here is: should critics be reviewing the intent, or the product?

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