Style Journal

The Birth of Roma, Ro-ma-mah.

Posted by Lois Eliason on August 09, 2011 0 Comments

 Now that the hype over Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” video has died down, I’ve come around to giving it more thought in how it’s become a significant document of our contemporary culture.

The video tells the story about a young gal forced to participate in a Russian sex-slave trade. Lady dances for, teases, and entices her potential suitors. Then, she is sold off for a bunch of money to a hottie Russian mobster wearing golden gladiator-style cheek chaps; and their ensuing “romance” is so good (or “bad”), that she burns him up in bed. Her afterglow consists of soot, a skeleton, short-circuiting couture, and an unsatisfactory drag on a cigarette.

So, what up with this video? And why did it cause such a stir? Whether it’s shock or disturbance, excitement or arousal, it has garnered the full range of reactions from its viewers.

The 23-year old phenomenon gives us significant food for thought. Certainly, she has relied on the Haus of Gaga to guide and influence her artistic decisions and output. Her creation by the Haus seems to be acknowledged in the scene of her emerging from the pod/coffin titled “Monster”. Lady is indeed the product of a freakish collaboration of artists.

Her laboratory birth amidst the repetitive chanting of “Rah-Rah…Roma-ma-ma…” reminds me of what it must have been like to be in a crowd of spectators at a public event sponsored by the Emperor during the height of Rome’s domination and glory. Certainly, all emperors (good and bad ones) needed to hear their crowd affirm the all-powerful state of Roma…Ro-ma-ma…

What happens though, when a ruler who takes office falls under the bad devices of his advisory “Haus”? This is exactly what happened with Emperor Nero (37-68 c.e.), who was so young when he became emperor, that his mom had to act as his regent. While he started out with the best of intentions, he eventually gave into a hedonistic lifestyle that was defined by excessive extravagance, sadism, murder, and sexual exploitation. These aspects and others have made Nero one of the most infamous monsters in history.

Recently, archaeologists uncovered what was Nero’s dining room in his palace. It had a rotating floor, and a ceiling equipped with panels that opened up so guests could enjoy a lovely shower of flower petals. Sounds like something from MTV Cribs, doesn’t it? And, no disrespect, but if you’re young and incredibly rich, why not build yourself a rotating dining room and shower your guests with flowers?

When Nero was 27 years old, the Great Fire burned Rome, and legend has it that the young emperor kicked back, watched his city burn, and played the fiddle.

While we can all say that Nero was really, really “bad”, didn’t or don’t we all have bits of that same monster within us—the monster who wants more things, more sex, more extravagance…

I think complete awareness of the monsters within us is the key to freeing ourselves from confusion and delusion. It’s part of that fine line between true artistry and insanity. I think the fact that Lady walks that line so well is what makes us wanting more from her.

When Nero was 31 years old, the senate condemned the emperor/monster to death.

Completely confused and deluded by the actions of his lifestyle, Nero took his own life before his execution.

His last words: “What an artist the world loses in me.”


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