Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The inevitable "Alejandro" post

-anyone else think she looks like Anna from "V" in the dance sequence starting around 4:13? I think it's the emotional detachment + hyper-sexual androgyny

-what on earth will pop culture do when it discovers Eastern Orthodox imagery?*

-there is not a single cigarette in this video, though she gives off a vaguely Carrollian vibe around 2:25, smoking some sort of bizarre pipe while imperiously watching the gay-monk dance-offering ritual. Clearly this indicates that cigarettes are now more transgressive than half naked men gyrating in heels and the group rape of a latex-clad nun.

"Don't wanna kiss, don't wanna touch, just smoke my cigarette and hush."

"To me, a woman smoking cigarettes was something extraordinarily funny. The absurdity of a woman putting in her mouth a rolled slip of tissue paper filled with tobacco really puzzled me." - Jacques Henri Lartigue
"I knew a man who, when he was a green country boy made a trip to the great city. There a friend undertook to show him the town; and they started on a journey through the Tenderloin, to the end that the youth might see what the world was like.

'And,' he said in relating the experience to me years later, 'there sat that girl, smoking. I wasn’t used to seeing women smoke. They didn’t do it in our neck of the woods. But that wasn’t what disturbed me. What clean bowled me over was what she was smoking: a big, fat, black cigar that would have put me on the casualty list in five minutes. And I considered myself pretty hard-boiled, too. That finished me. I couldn’t see anything attractive about a woman smoking a rank cigar. Whatever temptation I was under with respect to the lady fled. ...

'It was the shock of my young life. But I have always been thankful to that girl for frankly smoking that cigar. A library of preachment and warning from all the sages could not have more completely and vividly revealed to me just what she was; just how hard she was, how unlovely, how unlike a woman, how physically and psychologically repulsive, and what violence a man does to his deepest instincts when he permits himself to be drawn by such women. I suppose it was the want of what I might call feminine aesthetics in the performance rather than its unconventional side, that repulsed me most. ...

'It taught me a fundamental lesson. I know now why I abominate coarsegrained women, and women who make themselves coarse-grained. It’s instinctive. They can’t be good mothers. No child should ever be trusted to their hands, and no youth, either.'" - Wainwright Evans, 1922 (all emphasis mine)

"Smoking cigarettes is both a source of visible sensual pleasure and an emblem of women's erotic life. At least that is how it appears to men, for whom the sight of women smoking is both threatening and intensely, voyeuristically exciting." - Richard Klein

MY ACTUAL POINT: "Don't wanna kiss, don't wanna touch, just smoke my cigarette and hush," is basically the most emasculating thing a woman can say to a man. Add the huge age difference elsewhere alluded to ("She's not broken, she's just a baby/But her boyfriend's like a dad, just like a dad") and you've got some serious Lolita S&M shit going on.

Gaga has gone back and forth on feminism, swinging back towards the girlpower end of the spectrum in her recent Larry King interview: thus, some have criticized "Alejandro" as insufficiently empowering, or some such. Not that I concern myself much with feminism, but I would suggest that the complete absence of actual cigarettes is the biggest way Gaga's character gives herself over to the variously Mezo-American/Nazi-looking gay hordes (which is sweet, given that she's said this video is intended as a sort of love letter to her gay fans).

I've long considered mounting an anti-anti-tabagism campaign grounded in feminist rhetoric. Taking a woman's cigarette from her is a thing apart from depriving gas station attendants and business executives; not, of course, that in some wild fantasy of mine only women smoke, but I imagine that anti-tobacco opposition couched in such language would more clearly force the cultural questions surrounding my favorite narcotic, which are uni-fucking-versally ignored.

"C'est bien là, n'est-ce pas, dans ce grand bâtiment, que travaillent les cigarières?"

"C'est l
à, mon officier, et bien certainment, on ne vit nulle part, filles aus silégères."

"Mais au moins sont-elles jolies?"

"Mon officier, je n'en sais rien, et m'occupe assez peu de ces filles l

*This will never happen, of course, because despite the decided minority status of Catholics in this country, gratuitous Catholic imagery is never marked in the way Orthodox imagery would be (which, as a Christian, I can't say I mind, but as a fan of epic music videos, well...)

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