Ooh La La over Lady Gaga
Okay, true confessions time: I showed my 14 year-old son Lady Gaga's "Telephone" video.
No, it wasn't a mistake and yes, I'd do it again. You might be asking, "Who is Lady Gaga?" Or maybe you're shaking your head and tut-tutting to yourself, "What in the world was she thinking?"
First, I should point out that nearly every teenager in this country has heard of Lady Gaga. Yes, even yours. Even if you tell me that your homeschooled daughter rarely leaves the pristine confines of your 500-acre ranch in Wyoming, I'll still insist that I'm right.
Blame it on the People magazine sitting on the empty chair at the dentist's office, or even blame the little screens above the check-out counter or gas pump whose job it is to keep us distracted, sell us things, and feed our culture's desperate, insatiable hunger for celebrity gossip.
You could even blame Time magazine for exposing your child to Lady Gaga. Just a few weeks ago, the magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Why did they honor her that way, this singer with the bizarre fashion sense and lyrics that include "Don't be dirty ice cream, baby" and lots of "rah-rah-ah-ah-ah"s and "GaGa, ooh la la"s?
(It may have something to do with the 15 million albums and 40 million singles she's sold. Just one week after her latest video, Alejandro, was posted on YouTube, it had already been watched 20 million times.)
My point is that she's a huge presence in popular culture right now and had I not showed my son "Telephone," he likely would have seen it at a friend's house or while flipping through the cable channels at his grandparents' house, sooner or later.
You're probably wondering what this big lead up is all about. How bad could it be? Well, "Telephone" is thick with raunchy sexual material, bad language, and even clunky product placement. (While making sandwiches, Lady Gaga is careful that the Wonder Bread and Miracle Whip labels squarely face the camera.)
In it, singer Beyoncé plays a character who bails Lady Gaga out from a rather … ahem … unconventional prison. Together they drive to a diner and poison its customers who, near the end of the video, lie dead around them as they do a big dance number.
If this makes you want to see it, let me recommend that you avoid the "official explicit version." Actually, I've never seen that one, but having seen the "official clean version," I feel qualified to say so.
One afternoon, when his younger siblings weren't home, I asked my son if he'd seen "Telephone." He hadn't, but it heard it being described at the lunch table. I asked him if he'd like to see it. He shrugged, either because he's more into artists like Jack Johnson and Coldplay or because he didn't expect I'd show it to him. But I did. We skimmed through, pausing to talk.
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