Deconstructing Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” Video

flickr: qtthomasbower(creative commons)

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Lady Gaga’s new video for “Alejandro“—which invokes a combination of religious, militaristic, and sadomasochistic imagery—has been called everything from unnecessarily blasphemous and racy to straight-up “lazy trash.” Bill Donohue of the Catholic League called Gaga a “Madonna wanabee,” referring to the conservative outcry that followed Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” video in 1986. But beyond reiterating the images and general themes in Gaga’s nearly 10-minute video, which came out on June 7, few critics have reflected on its deeper message, whichin my view is a critique of repressed sexuality—not “blasphemy as entertainment.”

In it, Gaga portrays herself first as a queen and then as a nun. Her cadre of male dancers appear as soldiers and then as pseudo-drag queens wearing fishnets and high heels. Is it a coincidence that Queen Elizabeth I of England was revered for her virginity, that Catholic nuns take vows of celibacy, and that US soldiers are still being told to lie about their sexuality because of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?

I think not. It took a few viewings and discussions with groups of friends to try and figure out what Gaga meant with all of these conflicting images, but I think her underlying message is a commentary against sexual conformity.

The week before the video was released, Gaga appeared on Larry King Live to offer a sneak preview. The work, she said, features a “homoerotic military theme” and “is a celebration of my love and appreciation for the gay community, my admiration of their bravery, their love for one another and their courage in their relationships.” Did nobody notice her explanation? Yes, Gaga wears a rubber nun habit, and yes, she swallows a set of rosary beads—big no-nos in the Catholic Church—but this video isn’t about religion in the way Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” was. 

In any case, the “Alejandro” imagery will no doubt continue to cause controversy, as the music blogosphere is now reporting that Gaga will appear on the next cover of Rolling Stone wearing little more than the machine-gun bra she sports in the video.

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

We have about a $200,000 funding gap and less than a week to go in our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, this week so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

We have about a $200,000 funding gap and less than a week to go in our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, this week so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate