Credit: Sean Gresens/MTV
Lady Gaga‘s “Yoü And I” video came out today (it leaked early — GRRRR, internet!), and there is a WHOLE lot of imagery, allusion and suggestion going on here. And perhaps everything — or at least some things — will be illuminated after the television premiere of the “Yoü And I” video during “MTV First: Lady Gaga,” Thursday night at 7:49 p.m. ET on MTV, during MTV’s live chat with Lady Gaga on MTV.com.
But you’ve already watched the “Yoü And I” video, so let’s discuss, shall we?
Unlike her last Born This Way video, “Edge Of Glory,” which was a straightforward theatrical dance interlude, Gaga’s “Yoü And I” video feels a little like a Shakespearean drama. One of those Elizabethan situations where you’re sitting there like “I KNOW I read the play years ago, but I’m kind of a little lost with all of the stories happening on stage right now.” Send help, footnotes, an English professor!
If you take an unscientific poll of Little Monsters, they’ll tell you that “Yoü And I” the song is, presumably, the story of Gaga and her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Lüc Carl, (the umlaut is probably a wink and nod to him. Cute, right?). He hails from Nebraska, Gaga directly references Nebraska in the song and the video features Midwestern farmlands. But the “Yoü And I” video — of course of COURSE — goes much deeper than that. Of course.
Lady Gaga’s rarely one for complete transparency (because that’d be boring, and we wouldn’t be sitting here watching the video 156 million times), and “Yoü And I” is probably her most opaque work to date. The video opens up with a pale-faced, white-haired Gaga as a bride (who looks an awful lot like one of her “Bad Romance” characters) and her hulking husband. What happens after that plays out pretty much like a choose-your-own-adventure novel or one of those terrifying sci-fi video games like “Quake” or “Panic” or “OMFGTHISISSCARY” or whatever they’re called (can you tell I don’t play any of those?).
Gaga’s finally arrived in Nebraska, and she’s got the battle wounds and dressings of an at-least-partial transformation into a cyborg, perhaps a comment on the impossibility of being a perfect pop star? (After all, the perfect pop star wouldn’t have bloodied her feet.) But she appears to be shedding that former robotic self and the real Gaga (the bloody one!), having arrived home, is coming through. The man who changed her might represent the Fame Monster, and perhaps she’s retreating back to her ideal: the mythological muse-filled enchanted forest, where she achieves purity, redemption and where she’s whole. Where her male alter ego, Jo Calderone, can both enjoy a beer and genuflect at the mention of Jesus Christ. It’s not so much about Gaga making out with herself or Gaga as a guy (BRUUUUUUCE!) as it is about male and female, Adam and Eve, yin and yang, Gaga as a whole person capable of loving all parts of herself, hence the message she sent when she tweeted the video: “You must love all + every part of me, as must I, for this complex + incomprehensible force to be true.”
We also see Gaga being forcibly created into the image of some kind of befeathered Frankenwoman and mannequin-like living doll in scenes rife with palpable sexual tension, where Gaga’s male captor is in control and Gaga appears to be both enslaved and possibly suffering from Stockholm syndrome, losing even more of herself. In less-threatening imagery, we see Gaga’s been transformed and possibly freed into the Yuyi the mermaid, a sensual being capable of sex (get it, girl!) and, from the looks of the video, mutual love.
But to say that unanswered questions remain is an understatement akin to calling Gaga’s style “kinda different.” We don’t know if Gaga’s escaped her old life — the old woman who hands her a doll that fells her in the beginning of the video might suggest that she’s escaped a life of captivity and lack of free will, or, to step back and look at the bigger psychological picture here, has she left behind an unhappy relationship. Or has she found her independence and whole, self-actualized self? Is Gaga returning to the man she loves after changing who she is and ultimately finding herself? Basically, we don’t know if Gaga’s running to someone or something or away.
Lady Gaga is a work in a progress. She has a flair for musical storytelling that begins far before she’s written a song or finished a video and a habit of leaving breadcrumb trails throughout the mysterious, murky (sometimes mermaid-y) fantasy life that is her narrative and probably her reality too. Certainly her “Yoü And I” video is no exception. And considering Gaga’s arrived at a fork in the road, it seems she’s telling us that she’s still on a journey and that her story is to be continued.
+ What do you think Lady Gaga’s “Yoü And I” video means? Tell us in the comments and don’t miss the television premiere of the “Yoü and I” video during “MTV First: Lady Gaga,” Thursday night at 7:49 p.m. ET on MTV and Logo, followed by a live Q&A with Gaga and her fans on MTV.com. Tweet your questions for the Mother Monster with the hashtag #MTVGaga.