Wednesday, September 29, 2010

WIP Wednesday: Telephone (Jonas Akerlund, 2010)

Lady Gaga and Jonas Åkerlund bring us a modern take on WIP and exploitation in general with the video for Telephone. While the WIP aspect is fairly short, they manage to cram a whole lot of prison goodness into a trim nine minutes and 32 seconds. The remainder of the video is more revenge and straight exploitation centered, though this is common with films like Chained Heat.

We get the WIP vibe right away with a shot of razor wire atop a fence and scenes from the prison yard. As Gaga is led in to the "Prison for Bitches" she is accompanied by two guards who are highly masculine in build, yet heavily breasted. The line between feminine wiles and masculine brutality are a bit skewed, as it should be with the guards. The other inmates yell threats and cat-calls at Gaga who plays the "new girl" but will soon be portrayed as the HBIC. They forgo the standard strip search, for time's sake, and just strip her down and throw her in a cell. Many of the standard elements are here. The trashy, beat-up lingerie, fights in the rec area, posing and posturing between rival factions, and a touch of lesbian action. For occupying under five minutes, they go a long way in presenting the essence of a WIP film.

Some of you may have noticed how exploitation friendly Lady Gaga is. She got big points from me when she wore a take on the Charlotte Rampling Nazi-kink outfit from The Night Porter in the video for Love Game. The look of the video's titles are very Jackie Brown, and Gaga and Beyoncé ride around in the "Pussy Wagon" from Kill Bill. There are several modern steps taken here to change the direction of some exploitation elements, as well as combining modern ideas into the format. Probably the smartest is the cigarette sunglasses. Cigarettes are money in prison, so having sunglasses made of cigarettes makes them automatic bling. Burning said cigarettes means you have "money" to burn. Gaga as both new girl and HBIC is new in my experience. People don't want to see the "good girl" anymore. Also the use of heavy product placement is exploitative. Lady Gaga was criticized for the dearth of product placement in this video, though it is nothing new to her. In the aforementioned Love Game we quickly see Campari and Virgin Mobile shots. Products are the new cool, and many people want to use what their idols use. Gaga goes from the old stand-by Virgin Mobile to the oddball Miracle Whip. In a way she is hurling exploitative elements at us, just as exploitation films of the past would have a stripper in a restaurant just to get some nudity in there.

In all, I think this video shows that the rebirth of exploitation as a genre is going well. Certainly Quentin Tarantino is greatly responsible, but other recent films have moved the genre into the modern age, notable Hell Ride and Bitch Slap.


Copyboy said...

I'd go gaga cig bling!

Kal said...

I get over my minutes worth of GA GA and she goes all creative on me and sucks me back in. Danm that girl. How does a guy like you even FIND 31 scary movies you have never seen. All I can suggest in the recently see at Cave of Cool theatres - 'Mad Love' - with Peter Lorre and Colin Clive. Mad in 1935 and is the story of a scientist who has a boner for an actress and the evil things he does to win her love.

Darius Whiteplume said...

@CB :-)

@Kal - She is a force to be reckoned with ;-) - I'll have to look into 'Mad Love' - as for the rest, I have seen some of them, but trying to hit some classics, even the dubious ones ;-)

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