Look, let’s just get it out there. I like Lady Gaga. She’s good pop. Good pop is hard to find. Clear? Cool.
That said, Telephone is a really horrible video.
I don’t have a problem, in theory, with a 10 minute short film masquerading as a music video. I’m sure there are a lot of directors trying to make their way into film through music videos. If they can snatch a budget big enough to do something more than shoot a couple of girls against a backdrop of fake smoke, I can’t blame them for going for it. But whatever it is you’re hoping for your career, you’ve got to, at the very least, still make sure there’s a music video buried in there somewhere.
There are a lot of things wrong with Telephone. It’s an exploitation film parody by someone who seems to be parodying other exploitation film parodies. If Jonas Acklund, the director of Telephone, is actually a fan of the films this is supposedly paying homage to, it doesn’t show. It’s also full of nonsensical, stylistic ticks that are, at best, distracting. It straight out steals the Pussy Wagon gag from Kill Bill, too, and it has so little to do with anything that I can’t really write it off as homage. Apparently the truck is owned by Quentin himself, so I can only hope that he at least got some cash for it. Either way, as a piece of film, it’s a hot mess.
None of that is really the problem.
The problem is that, unlike, say, Thriller, the “film” part of the video interrupts the song at the end of every verse. Just when the song is getting going, we get another pointless exploitation “homage” sequence. Yes, I think the film parts are bad. Maybe you think they’re good. But I’d bet money we both turned the video on to see a music video, not Jonas Acklund’s short film about Lady Gaga and Beyonce going on a costume party crime spree.
Thriller interrupts the song once, in the middle, but otherwise it’s a straight ahead showcase of a great pop song and awesome dancing. Yes, it’s also just a better shot piece of film. Yes, it’s directed by John Landis, who’s a fantastic filmmaker. But even if you hate the werewolf movie parts, you can get to the song part and run with it without being interrupted every 45 seconds with nonsense.
If you want to make a self indulgent piece of crap, go for it, but at least make a self indulgent piece of crap music video.
And sorry for making you watch Telephone. Here, I’ll make it up to you with Thriller.