4 thoughts on “Lady Gaga’s ‘Marry the Night’ Video and the Transformation of Shame

  • December 27, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    I must admit, almost ashamedly, that I find Lady Gaga endlessly fascinating. It does seem, even to one as cynical as myself, that she may in fact be authentic. If this is the case, then she certainly deserves the analyses she receives, because she presents a persona that has been absent from pop culture for decades: a persona powerful enough to control her own image. As we all know, very rare these days for any celebrity to effectively communicate their personality to the audience without the white noise and interference manufactured by the media-management team of the studios and label, which inevitably distort the character into nothing more than a cartoon: the ‘girl next door’ Britney Spears, the chastity gang The Jonas Brothers, and the Disney androids created every now and again to capture the prepubescent dollars. Yet still, I feel slightly ashamed to like Lady Gaga. Much as it has to do with her being a pop star, it’s also the fear that I’ve been hoodwinked by her and her poker face. That I’ve invested time and energy into deconstructing her (potential) art, and that I may in fact have been influenced by nothing more than a money-spinning flurry of flashy imagery. Perhaps it’s my own narcissism rearing it’s ugly head, but I’d hate to think I could be duped like that.

    Yet, it’s not just Lady Gaga’s persona (and construction of) that is fascinating, it’s also her music videos, and to a lesser extent, her songs. The music video for her song, Alejandro, for example. I can’t help but see that as more than a music video. It’s a striking portrayal of grief, with a motif of inversion, displayed through a lens of surrealism. I think that music video is more in the league of brilliant films than it is with the Katy Perrys and Nicki Minajis. But then that niggling cynicism is still there. Just how much of that video is actually down to her? Is this really her art, or is she just a convenient figure head? Did she really co-direct it, and was it really her vision? It’s these questions that will probably forever labour anything Lady Gaga ever creates. And it’s quite unfair. Rarely would you expect a fine artist to be questioned like that.

    Then as you discussed, there’s the question of her relationship with the ‘little monsters’. You see, I agree with you in that she simply couldn’t possibly care as strongly for millions of people as she says she does… unless, of course there’s some other reason for it. Of which I can think of two, one you’ve already hinted at. The idea of identification and how her fans identify with her. But quite in fact, could it not be the case that if it is true when she discusses her bullying, that she in fact identifies with them? I believe this could create an empathy which would cause her emotional outpourings- and with authenticity.

    Secondly, and I suppose a little more selfishly, it could very well be that she is a sufferer of narcissistic personality disorder. Here’s a quick list from Wikipedia (which is accurate as well as I can remember from my studies- sorry, I’m lazy!):

    DSM-IV-TR 301.81
    The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition, DSM IV-TR, a widely used manual for diagnosing mental disorders, defines narcissistic personality disorder (in Axis II Cluster B) as:[1]
    A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
    Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
    Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
    Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
    Requires excessive admiration
    Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
    Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
    Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
    Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
    Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

    Of course we’ll never entirely know her, and really we’re judging on very little, but it really is quite an interesting fit, in my opinion.

    Finally, great articles, and I urge you to glance the Alejandro video at some point! I find the bed sequence particularly striking, in the sense of the imagery and possible metaphors.

    • December 29, 2011 at 10:19 am

      I will definitely check out the video. Thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment.

  • February 28, 2017 at 1:49 am

    she seems to be a narcissist and her work is endlessly boring, contrived and dated.

  • February 28, 2017 at 1:57 am

    ´´ Instead of running from shame and the sense of her internal damage, she puts it center stage. It’s not a form of denial because her creations aren’t purely beautiful, as if to cover over and hide the underlying pain. Instead, Lady’s Gaga’s ‘Marry the Night’ video, like all of her videos, is “twisted and strange”, exquisite and ugly, painful and uplifting. With a sense of humor and with honesty, she faces her shame, the humiliation of rejection, her sense of inner ugliness, and then transforms them into art.

    For Lady Gaga, the healing of shame doesn’t mean some idealized sort of recovery where you completely erase that shame and its effects; instead it involves acceptance of your damage and internal darkness (“marrying the night”) and then making the very best of it you can. ´´

    her work is very watered down and rehashy, nothing very art, and she thrives on people seeing her as ´´ different ´´, when her work shows she is quite mainstream. looking at her output it seems she enjoys playing certain characters that looks like an ´´ acceptance of your damage and internal darkness ´´ but seems like a flirting with being ´´ oh so damaged and different ´´. a lot of what she does seems to be for attention, dressing up as a ghost in what looks like a stripped birch dress, patted poo on one´s head and regurgitated oatmeal on one´s face, her work often seems to have no message other than ´´ look at me, i`m so crazy ´´.


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