The Sexist

Lady Gaga on the Line Between Drunk Dancing and Date Rape

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In 2008, Lady Gaga dropped her first single, "Just Dance," an ode to dancing while extremely wasted. In the song, Gaga details her level of intoxication: She's lost her keys, she's lost her phone, she can't see straight, she's forgotten the name of the club she's in, and she can't figure out why her shirt is turned inside out. Still, everything is "gonna be okay"—until Colby O'Donis enters the scene and announces that he intends on doing more than just dancing with Gaga that night. "I'm gonna hit it, I'm gonna hit it and flex and do it until tomorrow," he says. "There's no reason at all why you can't leave here with me." Well, I can think of one.

The bouncy club track doesn't address the disconnect between Gaga's drunken intentions—just dancing—and those of O'Donnis—hitting it. In the recently released track "Monster," that drunken interaction takes a sinister turn, and Gaga finally addresses the negative space left by "Just Dance."

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"I asked my girlfriend if she'd seen you round before," Gaga sings in "Monster." "She mumbled something while we got down on the floor baby / We might've fucked not really sure, don't quite recall / But something tells me that I've seen him, yeah." If the friend's lack of clarity on her fucking history with this guy isn't enough of a red flag, wait for the chorus, where Gaga eliminates all the ambivalence of "Just Dance": "That boy is a monster."

Later in the song, Gaga makes a direct reference to her first single as the club monster turns into a "monster in my bed": "I wanna Just Dance / But he took me home instead / Uh oh, there was a monster in my bed / We french kissed on a subway train / He tore my clothes right off / He ate my heart then he ate my brain." In the background, the robotic voice of the "monster" provides the stalker's perspective: "I love that girl, wanna talk to her, she's hot as hell."

Reader Zoe, who sent in "Monster" as an example of an anti-Date Rape Anthem, says that the song works as a necessary footnote to "the trend . . . of women singing about how awesome it is to get disorientingly drunk, and then going Ke$ha and saying you can slap the guys away when they try to 'touch your junk':"

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"I don't think the song is supposed to be a 'lesson' to women about getting drunk," Zoe adds. "It's just connecting those dots, and then condemning the dude as a monster. Hooray!" Like Zoe, I'm glad that pop music has a figure like Lady Gaga, who can convincingly defend the harmless entertainment of drinking in the club, and then release an equally compelling dance track condemning the people who want to deny women that experience—rapists.

Comments

  1. #1

    Have you ever read Rap or Hip Hop lyrics? GaGa is tame in comparison. Instead of slamming lyrics how about condemning video games that hypnotize youngsters for hours on end while glorify raping little girls all in High Definition

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6TeaodMxoA

  2. #2

    Jersey Boy - if the link you post leads to the japanese rape role play game (RapeLay) (and I don't know if it does, because I am not willing to click on the link) then firstly it is an aberration in gaming, and secondly there has been MUCH written on this.

    The fact that rap music or video games contain graphic descriptions of sexual assult does not limit or invalidate the negative implications of lady gaga's music.

  3. #3

    Wait are we assuming that the songs are connected? Or did Lady Gaga say that this is what the two songs say? Because jumping to conclusions about her glorifying rape and her lyrics are degrading, etc. Dont you think we should hear what they lyrics really mean from her own words?

  4. #4

    I KNOW THIS IS OFF OFF TOPIC MS. MANDY BUT WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE ERYKAH BADU STRIP DOWN WHILE WALKING VIDEO?

    http://www.theroot.com/views/freeing-black-woman-s-body

  5. #5

    I THINK THE VIDEO IS INCREDIBLE, NOODLEZ!

  6. #6

    @Brianna - she didn't say that Lady GaGa glorified rape OR that her lyrics were degrading.

  7. #7

    This is another reason why I'm one of Lady GaGa's little monsters.*

    *GaGa calls her fans "little monsters," which seems to be another calculated move on her part to subvert celebrity culture and embrace social outcasts.

  8. #8

    First: I'm hardly an expert in cultural criticism, and I'd certainly like your interpretation to be true (esp. since I like working out to the song!).

    That said, I'm dubious; it strikes me as at least ambiguous whether it's a critique or a reinforcement of the icky "sex as commodity" / "guy pressures woman into doing more than she says she claims she wants, which is really in her interest" model.

    Why? 1. The opening "you amaze me." 2. "But I can't stop staring at those evil eyes." 3. In the final repeats of the chorus, the "could I love him?" backing vocals. Put together, I think it's at least as plausible to read "we might have fucked, don't quite recall" as implying "ashamed that I did something slutty, not willing to fully admit it to friend" rather than "was blackout drunk, raped."

    Again: I'd love to think your interpretation was the only reasonable one. But, A, it's at least contestable, and B, given that ambiguity, we should hardly expect the anti-sexist interpretation to be the one most people actually pick up on. This isn't purely a *generalized* pessimism: there's a specific form vs content dilemma in any attempt to make a *dance song* whose lyrics are supposed to be critical of the behavior described, simply there's no real way to express that critical valence while singing along / dancing enthusiastically. It can kinda work if the song's an explicit morality play, I suppose, like Sublime's "Date Rape," since then the audience is celebrating the *retribution* rather than the original act, but otherwise, I'm dubious. It's like that great Onion headline: "ironic porn purchase leads to un-ironic ejaculation."

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