The 'Alejandro' Video: Lady Gaga and Failures of Pastiche


Is pastiche supposed to be coherent? I would argue that yes, it should be! There must be a motivating reason for ransacking and begging and borrowing from popular culture to reassemble it. And so the new Lady Gaga video, for the song “Alejandro,” which is already a fairly incomprehensible thing, being as it is about maybe failed relationships and it being hot in Mexico and three guys and, I guess, having daddy issues, doesn’t bring too much that’s new to the table. Or too much that’s good and also old, for that matter.


There’s a setting of gay martial space fantasy, if Gamer met Riddick and perhaps a very forward-looking Dolce cologne ad. Pandorum v. a hint of Almodovar? (PANMODOVAR? ALMODVARUM? Can I get a witness?)

In this for some moments there’s more of a tribute to Annie Lennox than any of Gaga’s other forebears really? (Chilly, Pinter-doing Lennox, of course.) But that’s in part because the song is, yes, particularly inane, recalling Abba’s Fernando but not really holding a candle to it. (Hot like Mexico? Love you boy? EH.)


Unfortunately there are only cursory nods to Gaga’s all-important vagina. There is of course some extraordinarily impressive abdominal isolation. But then she can’t stop herself from going Madonna with a crucifix.

There is an awkward dance section in dance pants for no known reason.

oh dear

Then the video breaks down into flashbacks of sex acts and violence and militarism, which…. She appears to be the only woman to appear in the video, and at the end, she’s being tossed about a group of men with aggressive monk bowl cuts, in her weird religious outfit. It ends with her largely disrobing, in an orgy only mildly more interesting than the recent Kylie orgy video.

On the feminism meter, it rates pretty darn low, which is surprising, after her recent escapades.

In the end, it’s odd that we live in a time of third-hand reference! Mining the 20s through a mining circa the 50s through a mining in the 90s, by you know who? It’s not like I want a lot from an art form whose primary purpose is that of background display in boy stripper bars. But I do want a little something something.