Lady Gaga’s G.U.Y. – An ARTPOP Film
On Saturday, March 22, Lady Gaga released the highly anticipated music video for “G.U.Y.,” the third single off the singer’s most recent album, Artpop. A short film, G.U.Y. the video spans 12 minutes, approximately 4 of which are rolling credits that list the names of each and every individual involved in the video’s production. While the film is very much fantastical in nature – opening scene includes a Gaga-bird hybrid punctured by an arrow – it doesn’t necessarily have that classic Gaga “shock” factor that you may expect. That’s not to say the film doesn’t include some “WTF” moments, but it does reflect a change, perhaps another dimension, in Gaga’s public image. This added dimension manifest itself with the conception of Artpop, on which Gaga explained:
“For Artpop I, in the most metaphorical explanation, stood in front of a mirror and I took off the wig and I took off the makeup and I unzipped the outfit and I put a black cap on my head and I covered my body in a black catsuit and looked in the mirror and I said: ‘OK, now you need to show them you can be brilliant without that.’ And that’s what Artpop is all about. Because I knew that if I wanted to grow, if I really wanted to innovate from the inside, I had to do something that was almost impossible for me.”
This notion of almost a new Gaga, one that doesn’t necessarily depend on a shock factor in order to impress, certainly comes through in the “G.U.Y.” music video. I should clarify, however, that the short film actually contains three songs from Artpop – “Artpop,” “Venus,” and “G.U.Y.” In about 8 minutes, the video takes us through a journey that could be interpreted in any number of ways. It can be viewed as a metaphor for Gaga’s growth and evolution as an artist or perhaps even a commentary on feminism and gender roles in modern day America.
The film begins with a feather-adorned Gaga as a wounded bird, left for dead by greedy men in suits who stomp off with fists full of money. She is punctured with an arrow and clearly in pain, as she struggles to remove the weapon and crawl, in search of help. This crawl is accompanied by “Artpop” the track, which is soon replaced by “Venus” as Gaga reaches the massive Hearst Castle in California. Once there, an exciting sequence begins as a disheveled Gaga is carried (in a very Christ-like manner, if I may add) through Greek pillars and a flash of dancers outside the beautiful Neptune Pool. She is then bestowed with a massive, flowing crown of purple, pink, and green flowers and dunked ceremoniously into the pool. As she dips into the water, in what can be described as a rebirthing ritual, “Venus” reaches an apex with Gaga’s distinctive voice shouting out “take me to your Venus,” over and over. Suddenly, when she is fully submersed, a projection of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills accompanying Gaga on a cello, harp, guitar, and offbeat tambourine appears. It’s unexpected, as is Gaga’s subsequent reincarnation into a purely white-clad goddess. As she re-emerges, she speaks to Eros, “god of sexual desire, son of Aphrodite” who is depicted through Bravo’s Andy Cohen’s smiling face, floating in the sky. Already, Gaga has made two clear references to popular culture through the guest appearances of the real housewives and Andy Cohen.
The video then progresses with Gaga as a goddess reborn in front of a beautiful backdrop of white flowers and lush green grass. Lady Gaga then gives the following sexual innuendo-wrought introduction for the song we all came for, “G.U.Y.”:
“Lay back, and feast as this audio guides you through new and exciting positions.”
We then get a sequence of images – flashing between a nude and pale-haired Gaga grasping a thing blue cloth, synchronized swimmers in the Neptune Pool, and a skimpily dressed Gaga in an all white room, lined by pink and red roses. While all of these scenes contains elements of pure symbolism – lots of white, flowers, and water – there is undoubtedly something much more unexpected, perhaps twisted, to come. This becomes immediately apparent when Gaga defines the acronym G.U.Y. as “Girl Under You.” She doesn’t want to be the “girl under you” in the typical sense of male dominance, however, she wants to be the “girl under you – the one that makes you cry.” She then proclaims, “I’m gonna say the word, and own you, you’ll be my G.I.R.L.” Lady Gaga flips traditional gender roles in “G.U.Y.,” taking on the role of power and authority that is normally filled by a man. She sings, “I’m aiming for control of this love” and “I’m in charge like a G.U.Y.” To complement these lyrics, we see a few changes in scenery, as Gaga becomes the clear queen in charge of the many male dancers surrounding her. Also in this portion of the film, we experience another “WTF” moment when Gaga commands over the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Michael Jackson, and Gandhi. This segment lasts for just a couple seconds, followed by an image of Gaga’s head attached to the famous body of a Lego sculpture, busting its chest open to let out a flow of yellow Lego pieces.
Finally in what is perhaps the most satisfying scene in the film, we see Gaga take full-force revenge on the money-hungry corporate clones that left her face down in the dirt at the opening of the film. Abandoning her white clothing and accessories from earlier in the video, Gaga dons an outfit made of thick black fur and an oversized, black feather headdress – perhaps a reference to her earlier state as a broken bird. She struts in extremely high and thick heels and carries a large weapon that fires out loads of dollar bills everywhere, luring all of the working men out into the streets. As her lyrics go on in the background, “touch me, touch me, don’t be shy, I’m in charge like a G.U.Y.,” Gaga and two lady friends enter into the office, violently attacking the executives who have been left alone in the building. As the song and video come to a close, we see the nameplate on the executive office get switched to one that reads, “G.U.Y.” The film finishes with images flipping between Gaga and her dancers and the Hearst Castle gates (which also read “G.U.Y”) opening to reveal a mass of male-clones, who we can assume, are all under Queen Gaga’s control.
G.U.Y., the short ARTPOP film, is an aesthetically gorgeous piece that allows Lady Gaga to visually demonstrate what she was trying to achieve with Artpop, the album. Though it only spans 8 minutes (minus credits) and contains 3 of the album’s songs, it encapsulates much of what Artpop intended to represent. Splashes of pop-culture references keep the video exciting, as do the flood of stunning settings and wardrobe. Lady Gaga proves that she’s hasn’t lost her individual flavor just yet, leaving us with a video as colorful and wild as her imagination – check it out, below!