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Mar 19, 2010

On March 11, Spring Break festivities tempered in anticipatory respite for the premiere of “Telephone,” the long-awaited music video collaboration between pop stars Lady Gaga and Beyoncé. Nine minutes later, Facebook accounts updated, Twitters tweeted and ­— somewhere — manager-dad Mathew Knowles was laughing all the way to the bank, having conned daughter Beyoncé into participating in this lucrative but base excuse for artistry.

Sasha Fierce should shoulder some of the blame, but “Telephone” is inherently Gaga, with Knowles as a mere accomplice in a haphazard jailhouse romp gone awry.

This Tarantino-inspired short film follows sexualized criminals Gaga and Beyoncé as they break out of jail and murder an entire diner — complete with all the self-promotion and macabre histrionics now synonymous with the pantsless phenomenon known as Lady Gaga.

While the song itself is sassily exuberant, the video suffers from an awkward pairing. The brassy, assertive voice of Knowles unabashedly outshines the nasally Gaga. The former’s languid acting provides the impression that Mrs. Jay-Z has little patience with Gaga’s vision; the tension between the two is most evident in the sub par dance sequence at the film’s end — normally a climax for pop videos.

Slow, simple choreography and distracting screen shifts dampen the excitement of dual diva gyration. Knowles and Gaga are never shown in the same shot for more than two seconds.

When the camera does zoom out, they get lost in a sea of similarly lethargic dancers.
Additionally, imitating the grandiose, film format a la Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is little better than flattery if the length doesn’t correspond with a readily evident narrative. The lyrics do not remotely match the plot, and its myriad strands prevent a cohesive vision from forming.

Beyoncé and Gaga journey from a jail to a runaway car to a diner. This trajectory is juxtaposed with solo shots of Gaga in a kitchen and Beyoncé in a hotel room. The plethora of props are also distracting, as the audience likely spent half the video trying to figure out Gaga’s alien telephone-hat. “Telephone” remains but a visual symptom of the Gaga disease, a desire to propel pop music into the realm of high art without the means, substance or originality to do so. Gaga employs a machine gun approach to social advocacy, touching on many cultural problems, then disavowing these concerns through a sensationalized and vapid form.

Gaga claims to be a proponent of LGBTQ rights, serving as a speaker at 2009’s National Equality March. Yet, “Telephone” crassly employs lesbian porn undertones (“You’ve been a very bad girl Gaga,” seductively recites Beyoncé, satisfying every frat guy’s girl-on-girl fantasy. The flirtation between the two presents bisexuality in an exclusively objectified manner, complete with silicon, bikinis and dominatrix ethos — this hardly champions the queer community.

In a recent interview with E!, Gaga claimed “Telephone” is critique of materialism and “the kind of country that we are.”

Yet, Gaga herself is guilty of the same sin: inundating the audience with every logo from Ray Band to Polaroid (coincidentally, she is the camera company’s new spokesmodel). Even if this move was a convoluted commentary on materialism (as I’m sure she would tell you), she’s hawking the same companies inadvertently. Additionally, any serious commentary is masked by the whirl of plot lines and costume changes.

In a January interview with Barbara Walkers, Gaga discussed her music’s message: “I want to liberate [my fans]. I want to free them of their fears and make them feel that they can create their own space in the world.”

How can a synth-pop voice dare fans to be different by strutting around in a wardrobe that could belong to Britney Spears? Many consider her skimpy clothing avant-garde, but her costumes merely put an esoteric spin on pop music’s fiercest commodity: skin. Before urging her fans to part with convention, Lady Gaga might give it a try herself.

Gaga exists as a stain-glass window of pop music, fashioning herself piece by piece with the shards of her forbearers. Gaga’s fascination with shock fashion conjures early 1980s Madonna, albeit the effect is tempered in the Material Girl’s wake. Her obsession with cultural art recalls Andy Warhol. Her choreography is equal parts Michael Jackson and Britney Spears with its crotch grabbing, militaristic turns and brash gyrating.

Glaze this amalgam with the essence of the East Village and Lady Gaga emerges, unacknowledged parts that never sum to a whole. This synthesis is cheapened, not ground-breaking, when considering Gaga’s self-perception. “You have to be unique, and different, and shine in your own way,” Gaga once tweeted. Arguably she has yet to find her own way. Fusing and mimicking others is not originality, merely sensationalized recycling.

Blindly adhering to these pop-cultural paradigms limits the believability of her deconstructivist attitude. Gaga’s fascination with fame never reconciles with her desire to abscond from its constraints. This uncertainty soundly prevents the musical-philosophical uplift she so ardently desires. Post-modernist whining might forge a hit single, but never a pop revolutionary.

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Posted: Mar 19, 2010 4:48am
Mar 19, 2010
Just like with any relationship, building a positive relationship between parent and child is one that requires work and effort to make it strong and successful. Parenting is a tough job, and maintaining close relationships and open communications helps to ensure parents and their children stay connected through all ages of their upbringing. Here are 10 simple tips for enhancing the bond between parent and child.
1. Say I Love You Tell your child you love him every day -- no matter his age. Even on trying days or after a parent-child disagreement, when you don't exactly "like your child" at that moment, it is more important than ever to express your love. A simple "I love you" goes a long way toward developing and then strengthening a relationship.
2. Teach Your Faith Teach your child about your faith and beliefs. Tell him what you believe and why. Allow time for your child to ask questions and answer them honestly. Reinforce those teachings often.
3. Establish A Special Name Or Code Word Create a special name for your child that is positive and special or a secret code word that you can use between each other. Use the name as a simple reinforcement of your love. The code word can be established to have special meaning between your child and you that only you two understand. This code word can even be used to extract a child from an uncomfortable situation (such as a sleepover that is not going well) without causing undue embarrassment to the child.
4. Develop And Maintain A Special Bedtime Ritual For younger children, reading a favorite bedtime book or telling stories is a ritual that will be remembered most likely throughout their life. Older children should not be neglected either. Once children start reading, have them read a page, chapter, or short book to you. Even most teenagers still enjoy the ritual of being told goodnight in a special way by a parent--even if they don't act like it!
5. Let Your Children Help You Parents sometimes inadvertently miss out on opportunities to forge closer relationships by not allowing their child to help them with various tasks and chores. Unloading groceries after going to the store is a good example of something that children of most ages can and should assist with. Choosing which shoes look better with your dress lets a child know you value her opinion. Of course, if you ask, be prepared to accept and live with the choice made!
6. Play With Your Children The key is to really play with your children. Play with dolls, ball, make believe, checkers, sing songs, or whatever is fun and interesting. It doesn't matter what you play, just enjoy each other! Let kids see your silly side. Older kids enjoy cards, chess, computer games, while younger ones will have fun playing about long as it involves you!
7. Eat Meals As A Family You've heard this before, and it really is important! Eating together sets the stage for conversation and sharing. Turn the TV off, and don't rush through a meal. When schedules permit, really talk and enjoy one another. It can become a quality time most remembered by young and old alike.
8. Seek Out One-On-One Opportunities Often Some parents have special nights or "standing dates" with their children to create that one-on-one opportunity. Whether it is a walk around the neighborhood, a special trip to a playground, or just a movie night with just the two of you, it is important to celebrate each child individually. Although it is more of a challenge the more children in a family, it is really achievable! Think creatively and the opportunities created will be ones that you remember in the future.
9. Respect Their Choices You don't have to like their mismatched shirt and shorts or love how a child has placed pictures in his room. However, it is important to respect those choices. Children reach out for independence at a young age, and parents can help to foster those decision-making skills by being supportive and even looking the other way on occasion. After all, it really is okay if a child goes to daycare with a striped green shirt and pink shorts.
10. Make Them A Priority In Your Life Your children need to know that you believe they are a priority in your life. Children can observe excessive stress and notice when they feel you are not paying them attention. Sometimes, part of being a parent is not worrying about the small stuff and enjoying your children. They grow up so fast, and every day is special. Take advantage of your precious time together while you have it!
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Posted: Mar 19, 2010 4:43am


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