I’m just going to go ahead and pronounce the “Telephone” video by LADY GAGA (born 1986) and Beyoncé the most impressive avant-garde film of 2010: nine and a half minutes of glorious, relentless WTF, all the star-power and spectacle and verfremdungseffekt of a Matthew Barney movie with zero tolerance for boringness. Every shot begs to be unpacked in a master’s dissertation. If an artist is someone who has license to do what the rest of us only dream of doing, Gaga has taken on the challenge of doing what most other artists only dream of doing: out-Madonnaing Madonna; dressing so magnificently that it was possible to compile a list of her “100 hottest outfits of 2009″; commissioning Beyoncé to far outshine her on her own song; treating the most mean-spirited rumor about her like it’s absolutely hilarious; successfully selling a deliberate, loving, and merciless parody of mass culture as the thing itself. Everything she does is worthy of rapt attention, with the possible exception of her actual music.
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