Saturday, September 18, 2010

Gaga's Disco Stick

In both Aparicio’s article on Singing the Gender Wars and in Grupo Niche’s salsa Youtube clip, there are acute references to (hetero)sexual violence and to men’s assumed dominance over women. Clearly, these ideas are not only present in Latin@ cultural music but also in numerous styles of song and dance, one of which came to mind readily when I heard Grupo Niche’s explicit recitation of how a man is going to beat his woman with “the tip of the stick, half the stick, the whole stick.” This concept of using a stick to exert dominance, both sexually and authoritatively, is not a new one and I could not help but think of one of the songs by possibly the most controversial entertainers of our generation; Lady Gaga. What came to mind was her song “Love Game”, where she uses the term “disco stick” to refer to a similar idea of Grupo Niche's, however in a less violent, more playful yet still powerful context.

In her music video posted above, Gaga holds a staff of some sort no doubt referring back to her idea of a “disco stick” with a glowing apparatus at the top. Surrounding her, men watch her every move, mesmerized by both the way she moves her hips and the way she asserts superiority over the men with her staff, as if she is ruling over them. The video cuts to Gaga, naked but slightly covered in sequins and gems, in a room with two men, and later to a clip of her pushing a policeman and policewoman into a booth and behaving sexually promiscuous with each of them. Her sexual promiscuity is evidently used as a tool of empowerment for her because both the men and the women she goes after comply with a seemingly blind devotion; as if they would do anything for her.

Whereas Grupo Niche’s song uses the idea of a stick to exert violent power over the opposite sex, Lady Gaga uses the same idea to evoke a kind of sexually mesmerizing power, less violent than Grupo Niche’s, over both men and women. Being a woman herself, there are obvious lesbian and bisexual references that are present in this video and in other Latin@ music like Chabela Vargas’s. Gaga’s music video also parallels greatly the type of sexual empowerment that Celia Cruz’s “La Negra Tiene Tumbao” does in the fact that Gaga struts and dances half naked in front of men, painted in glitter instead of gold.

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