Everyone’s been talking about Lady Gaga’s new song and video Telephone, which features Beyonce and Heather Cassils. It’s been labeled risqué and “too hot to handle”, so much so, that there was even a rumor that MTV had banned it, which turned out not to be true. Of course the video is all over YouTube and other sites, and it’s full of bisexual, genderqueer, gay, and trans themes. Commenters all over are using the word bisexual to describe this video, and/or to describe Lady Gaga, who in interviews has talked about the themes in the video and what she wants them to mean. She herself says the words “queer”, “homosexual” and “transsexual” when talking about it. I wish she would say the word bisexual more, but if she isn’t, it’s good that so many others seem to be picking up on it. One of the main messages she was trying to get across in the video was was that sexuality isn’t a choice , and that binaries of gender and sexuality need to be broken down more. Encouraging people to think outside of the box can only be good for the bisexual community. There is also the added bonus of the visibility that an out bisexual performer brings. Lady Gaga has also did an interview where she said that both she and Beyonce “liked women”, so, naturally, now people are asking if Beyonce is bisexual (as nice as that would be, playing a character in one video doesn’t make you a different orientation!).
Telephone starts off where the video Paparazzi left off. In Paparazzi, Lady Gaga had poisoned her boyfriend, and Telephone starts with her being brought into jail for murder. The jail is full of women who very obviously straddle the gender line, including the guards who bring Lady Gaga in, both of whom seem to be trans. They undress her to find out if the rumors about her being intersex are true (they confirm they are not). Having previously had a boyfriend, Lady Gaga goes on to find herself a prison girlfriend, played by Heather Cassils, who in real life is a personal trainer who admits she straddles the gender line in both appearance and attitude. They share a kiss in the prison yard. The sequence is complete with several scantily clothed women, including Lady Gaga, and dancing.
Lady Gaga then gets a call from her girlfriend, Beyonce, who bails her out of jail. They go for a ride in a car called the Pussywagon (from the movie Kill Bill Volume 1 ). They drive to a diner where Lady Gaga is the cook and Beyonce meets up with what seems to be her boyfriend; she also appears to have both a boyfriend and a girlfriend. Lady Gaga and Beyonce proceed to poison everyone in the diner, including Beyonce’s boyfriend. There are a lot of genderqueer visibility and bisexual themes here as well, such as dating both men and women, and having a lot of people in the video straddle the gender line in appearance and attitude. The video ends with the police chasing Lady Gaga and Beyonce, who ride off together and promise each other they will never come back. At the very end there is a female power symbol.
One of the best qualities of the video, and probably what is making so many people both love it and hate it, is that it shows a wide range of human sexual behavior, orientation, identity, and expression, including bisexuality, and has them all come across as normal and accepted. Some artists do this just for shock value, but it seems that Lady Gaga really is trying to send a message and get people to think outside of the many preconceived notions that society has; the biggest being that sexuality and gender identity are somehow a choice.
Love it or hate it, Lady Gaga’s video Telephone has definitely pushed the envelope in entertainment and music, and opened some doors for sexual expression in popular culture. And of course-the song itself is pretty catchy!