So, I'm sure many of you have already seen Gaga's latest music video for 911. The video is very surreal and confusing for the entirety of the song. The visuals don't seem to make too much sense until the song ends, where the video changes completely and you get a post-song scene that basically explains the whirlwind of visuals you were just subjected to.
Now, with the context of the end scene, it isn't all too hard to figure out what the symbolism was within the video after a few re-watches. That being said, I thought it would just be fun to make a little chart/rundown of all the symbolism and connecting imagery I found in the video! I'm not saying I'm finding out anything particularly new, as I'm sure many to all of you have caught onto the same questions and answers that I'm providing here. This is kinda just for me, because I find it fun to do this kind of stuff! But, if it's helpful to anyone, that's great!
I'm going to just go in chronological order of what the imagery means in the video to the actual events happening "in real life". Then I will show a list of images/characters from the surrealist dream and their real-world counterparts/equals. Let's go!
Gaga has been involved in an accident. Here we see she was probably riding her bike and was hit. The red beads on her ankle represents her bleeding wound.
The man bashing his head on a pillow represents the victim of the crash who was in the car: the pillow being the airbag. The woman in blue who starts off singing the
song is the first witness to the crash.
The group of three in the blue are also witnesses to the crash. The paddle represents their phone on a selfie stick. The man with the umbrella and the woman in white
are paramedics. The people in blue point their paddle towards the paramedics, meaning they probably called them to report the accident. The paramedics descend
onto the scene. The umbrella could be the ambulance or the ambulance sirens themselves.
We see a woman cradling a person in a shroud. She is the friend or loved one of another victim of the crash who already died at the scene. They are the first person
the paramedic goes to and checks their vitals. Because we do not see them again, it is assumed because they are already dead, the paramedics move onto
the other victims.
I actually don't know what this means! It seems to correspond to the line that follows this first chorus: "Keep my dolls inside diamond boxes". My best guess is that Gaga
is weighing between the two. The paramedics are not in time to save the victim on the right, but are able to save the victim on the left. It is perhaps why she moves the doll
on the right hand (a soul?) to the box (a body?) on the left hand. Let me know what you think!
The water Gaga dances next to relates to the lyric "Front I've built around me, oasis. Paradise is in my hand." but this could also symbolize the water on the street
of the accident. Meanwhile, the paramedic attends to someone: he holds up a shell to his face, which represents an oxygen mask.
Gaga begins ascending, meaning her life is slipping away. I think the halo around the middle of her head symbolizes she's on her way to heaven, but not quite there
yet. The rope around her ankle represents the paramedics finally beginning to attend to her, grabbing onto her before she slips away any further.
Fun fact: this shot is a reference to the Italian surrealist film 8 1⁄2 !
The mirror in the woman paramedic's hand represents a flashlight which she is shining in Gaga's eyes to check her vitals/response. The male paramedic pulls Gaga
down to the ground, and when she hits it, there is a brief shot of Gaga in the "real world" – indicating that the paramedics have begun their revival procedures.
The red dress symbolizes the blood bleeding from her wound. The paramedics arrive, with the male paramedic holding a rope – representing the tourniquet.
The male paramedic wraps his fingers around her ankle, representing his putting pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding and applying the tourniquet. In the next
shot he opens his mouth and turns towards her, with Gaga stepping away soon afterwards. I believe this represents CPR/mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Gaga turning
away and leaving could mean that the CPR is not working.
In this shot, the mural behind them obviously represents the "real world" accident. The female paramedic is holding a snake, representing the Star of Life on EMS
uniforms. The man is first seen attending to Gaga's leg; applying the tourniquet. Then he is seen with his hand on her chest while hers waves. This could further
represent the CPR attempts and her stuttering heart.
In the scene with the black background we see yellow "caution" tape that surrounds the accident scene. The male paramedic brings the female paramedic a box with
two daggers inside. These daggers represent defibrillators, which are often the last-ditch attempt at reviving a patient, proving that the other attempts had not worked.
Two orange-clad figures who we have seen throughout the video arrive with a gurney. These figures represent other EMS members on the scene of the accident.
In the next scene (not shown) Gaga is on the stretcher and the male paramedic takes the two daggers and stabs Gaga's chest.
That pretty much wraps up the surrealist/dream/hallucination/escape-thoughts/whatever-you-want-to-call-it portion of the video! Now I will just run-down all
the visual connections and matches from dream-to-reality!
Top: the two paramedics in the dream and in reality. Bottom: the paramedic with the mirror & the paramedic with the flashlight.
Top: the black figure on the horse is the ad for the White Sands, NM that looms over the scene (also where the dream portions of the video are filmed!)
Below: Gaga's wrecked bicycle, the scattered fruit, and her busted-up ankle.
The other members of the scene: 1) the airbag victim 2) the woman cradling her dead loved one 3) the man being given an oxygen mask 4) the first witness
and 5) the selfie stick witnesses (Note all the color coordination in their wardrobe!)
And finally, the entire scene! On the left you can see a figure in blue, which is the police officer directing traffic. The flying confetti is the sparks of the marquee. The
orange figure on the ladder is the fireman attending to the faulty electricity. I also thin the busted fire hydrant could represent the water I mentioned from earlier.
And with that we're done! I do still have some questions. I don't think the exact nature of the accident really matters, but I'm curious anyway. There seems to be
two pedestrian victims (Gaga on her bike and the person who died on the scene), as well as two cars involved (the sports car, belonging to the man given the oxygen
mask, and the other car, owned by the pillow/airbag man). Very interesting! I loved this video a lot and it's just so pleasing watching it over and over and making all
these connections. I'm glad that Gaga didn't make it too vague at the end, and the parallels are all pretty notable and make sense. It's still artistic, but not so over-the-top
that people can't click with it and understand it. So lovely.