Spend Thanksgiving with Lady Gaga

Ga ga gobble gobble

After the traditional turkey and pumpkin pie have been gobbled up, the next tradition is to plop in front of the TV for the rest of the day. For music fans and little monsters, ABC will air A Very Gaga Thanksgiving which the network describes as “an intimate look inside the life of Lady Gaga as she performs, in front of a small audience, eight songs including a duet with guest Tony Bennett.” As seen in the clip, she performs “Bad Romance” with what looks like a mutant sweet potato microphone.

DEETS: WFAA-TV Channel 8. 8:30 p.m. ABC.com.

—  Rich Lopez

‘Glee’ fully

Concert film of the gay-inclusive sitcom is as empowering as Bieber, but far more relevant

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DON’T STOP | Lovable losers of the New Directions choir take to the stage as rock gods in the hybrid music celebration ‘Glee The 3D Concert Movie.’

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

You know that cliché that life’s not about the destination, but the journey? Well, that’s kinda true of Glee, too — specifically, the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

That anthem, which was performed at the conclusion the pilot episode of the series about Midwestern high school students coming to terms with their loser-hood, set the stage for what has become a cultural touchstone: A series that celebrated outcasts in the same way Lady Gaga has. Little Monsters, Gleeks … they’re all nerds with iPods and a sense of humor. (New Directions even performs “Born this Way,” speaking to its timeliness.)

“Don’t Stop Believin’” also kicks off the new theatrical release Glee The 3D Concert Movie, and is played during the closing credits. Hey, when you have a formula that works, why introduce New Coke?

But this concert film is a strange hybrid — neither fully part of the series nor outside of it. The cast of Glee perform their hits songs, but all in character as their teen counterparts; in backstage interviews (and for the fans out front), they maintain the façade that 29-year-old actor Cory Monteith is really 17-year-old virginal jock Finn Hudson. That creates a convolution, if not a paradox: The Glee kids are lovable because they are nobodies, so why has all of New Jersey showed up to the Meadowlands to watch them perform an arena-rock concert with enough special effects to start a James Cameron film? When gay kid Kurt (Chris Colfer) looks at the camera to say, “Thank you for loving me” to his adoring fans, is he still Kurt?

Once you can get beyond this peculiarity, you begin to enjoy the film for what it is — that is, if you allow yourself to enjoy it. Watching the Glee movie is probably a lot like calling the DEA and reporting your ex as a Colombian drug mule: All In good fun, until someone finds out.

Yes, it’s a kind of coming out experience to admit you enjoyed a movie aimed at a teen audience (although middle-aged gay men are clearly the secondary target demo). The enthusiasm surrounding Glee isn’t appreciably different than that showered upon teenybopper acts like Justin Bieber or the Jonas Brothers: Rabid fan-fed joy fueling a giddy sense of teen empowerment.

But the greatest hoots from the audience aren’t for new songs (there aren’t any original compositions) or even on fresh covers — it’s for the songs that have already been on the show. All of which makes a Glee concert something unique: A nostalgia tour for a TV series about to start only its third season. It seems appropriate, in the Twitter era, that such instant gratification has made us wistful about things we saw on TV just last spring.

But Glee is more important that Bieber or the Jonases for one reason: Its message of inclusiveness, tolerance and understanding. The TV show portrays the most sensitive discussion of gay life, especially among teens, that has been seen just about anywhere, and the movie is no different: In addition to the live concert performances, the film tells three stories of true Gleeks, one being Trenton, a teen outed in eighth grade who sees the Kurt character as a role model. (The other profiles are equally sweet and profound, including a dwarf who becomes her school’s most popular deb and a girl with Asberger’s who overcomes her shyness by bonding with others over Glee.)

The movie has almost as many cutaways to the audience as shots of the performers. That’s because, more so than most TV shows, Glee reflects its audience as much as it directs them. You occasionally forget the concert film isn’t a sing-along and are tempted to join in (and maybe do, during the closing credits) because it has a infectious energy.

Glee’s appeal, for me, has often been difficult to pin down. It takes an ironic approach to its rangy topics — American culture, high school popularity, current music, teen politics — but goes so far with its irony that it doubles back on itself. That pushes it into the realm of actual entertainment — it’s meta-irony.

As filmmaking, it’s more than serviceable, with the 3D effect magnifying the crotches of sexy back-up dancers and charming even non-fans with its love for an Asian toddler who mimics, eerily well, the choreography of “rival” glee club the Warblers… before throwing a 3D Slushee in your face (a common punishment at the Glee high school). Nothing like making your audience feel like part of the outsider clique.

The Help hit theaters on Wednesday, and it will likely still be eclipsed at the box office by Glee, but don’t let it slip by: It is the best film of the summer. Some may dismiss is as overly sentimental hokum, but it is really an expertly crafted comedic tearjerker along the lines of Steel Magnolias, Fried Green Tomatoes and The Blind Side with bits of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil thrown it. But it is more touching than all of those put together, and for me the top Oscar frontrunner of the year to date.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 12, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

What’s Brewing: Lady Gaga at the Round-Up last night; Joel Burns’ brother killed in wreck

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. What a treat for the little monsters in Dallas. Lady Gaga stopped by the Round-Up Saloon again last night in advance of her show tonight at the American Airlines Center, and this time she performed a song accompanied by backup dancers. Above is a still from video shot by our Brent Paxton. More coming later.

UPDATE: We’ve posted more photos and video here.

2. What a whirlwind year it’s been for openly gay Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns, who gained international attention when he delivered his “It Gets Better” speech at a council meeting in October. On Saturday, Burns’ younger brother — 27-year-old Cody Burns of Stephenville — was killed when he lost control of his pickup on a dirt road in Erath County. In a post on Facebook, Joel Burns said Cody “was one of the finest human beings I’ve ever known. I and my family will miss him every day.”

3. State Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, squared off with anti-gay Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, on the issue of same-sex adoption on KXAN’s Session ’11 on Sunday. Anchia has filed a bill that would allow same-sex parents to put both of their names on an adopted child’s birth certificate. Watch video of the exchange below.

Session ’11: Reps. Berman and Anchia: kxan.com

—  John Wright

WATCH: Lady Gaga on self-love, AIDS prevention and her little monsters on ‘Good Morning America’

In case you were heading in to work at this time, Lady Gaga appeared today on Good Morning America. Remember, she’s the spokesperson for MAC cosmetics and discussed their work with HIV prevention, but she also talked to Robin Roberts about a few other things.

Not that we’ll post every appearance on TV by her, but I thought she was relatively poignant about working toward educating and preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS.

—  Rich Lopez

North Texas’ Danny Hernandez now opening for Lady Gaga on ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ speaking tour

We’ve told you about Marine Cpl. Danny Hernandez, the North Texas native and Texas A&M University graduate who was discharged from the Marines under “don’t ask don’t tell” after being outed by a fellow Marine.

Hernandez, who’s from a small town northwest of Fort Worth, is now working with Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and he spoke at the rally Monday in Portland, Maine, where Lady Gaga would later deliver her “Prime Rib of America Address.” Watch video of Hernandez’s remarks at the rally here.

Hernandez was also interviewed by MTV for a story about the rally yesterday. Video from the MTV interview is above.

Hernandez told MTV that he was initially skeptical about Lady Gaga’s advocacy for DADT repeal, until he got a chance to meet her and tell her his story.

“It was then that I realized she’s serious about making this an issue that people learn about,” Hernandez says. “People were not that aware about ‘don’t ask don’t tell.’ There was a group of people that thought it was repealed already. … She definitely brought light to an issue that many people had no idea was still going on in this county, and so I think a lot of that support has come form the Little Monsters that are so adamant about supporting Lady Gaga. If it’s something she supports, then of course they’re going to support her 100 percent behind that as well.”

And on that note, here’s the latest advisory from SLDN that hit our Inbox at 9 a.m. Dallas time Tuesday:

The final hour has arrived. Today at 2:15 PM ET, the full Senate will determine whether “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) repeal will move forward this year. For repeal to happen, we need 60 votes to break Senator John McCain (R-AZ)’s expected filibuster. All supporters must call their senators now.

Call both your senators at the Capitol switchboard right now and urge them to vote to end the filibuster and move on to a real debate on the Defense bill.

(202) 224-3121

These senators are currently uncommitted on breaking the filibuster and particularly need to hear from us today:

–Susan Collins (R-ME);
–Olympia Snowe (R-ME);
–Mark Pryor (D-AR);
–Richard Lugar (R-IN);
–Judd Gregg (R-NH);
–Jim Webb (D-VA);
–George Voinovich (R-OH);
–Kit Bond (R-MO)

Don’t let opponents of open service hold up critical funding for our troops and prospects for repeal. Supporters of open service must make their voices heard today. If you have already called your senators, call both of them again.

Call the Capitol switchboard and tell both your senators to follow the lead of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) to stop the filibuster and begin debating passage of the Defense bill.

(202) 224-3121
Speak up for all our service members today and spread the word to your friends: www.sldn.org/gaga
We are almost out of time to contact senators before the vote today. We must call now.

Thank you.

Aubrey Sarvis
SLDN Executive Director

—  John Wright

Anxious little monsters

AGOG OVER GAGA | Excited fans line up early on Thursday, July 22, as they waited to get in and get the best seats they could for Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball Tour concert at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Temperatures soard into the upper 90s, but Gaga’s little monsters weren’t deterred. Some even came in costumes from her videos or in outfits mirroring the singer’s famously avant garde look, and others came prepared by bringing their own shade in the form of umbrellas to fight off the sun as the giant video board kept them entertained with Gaga videos. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

—  Kevin Thomas

Gaga Countdown: Bedazzled colleagues gear up

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Some of us heading to tonight’s Gaga show see it as just another concert. We get the big deal of it and all that, but for two Dallas Voicers, they weren’t going without making an impression. Both Chance and Ramon are sparkling up their wardrobe before hitting the American Airlines Center tonight and tomorrow. Of course, we had to show you what they had in mind.

The Breakdown: Ramon is wearing a Fame T-shirt from the movie of the same name. Bedazzling the logo, he hopes everyone remembers his name — and the shirt. He didn’t hold back on accessories. His sunglasses have undergone the bedazzling as well with his right eye clearly the location of his G-spot. Chance has taken his vintage sparkly vest to new limits. First, he tries it as a head wrap. Unsatisfied with the look, he turned into a “shirt,” but he tells me he’ll put it to its original use come show time. He’s accessorized with a tiara, mask and glasses found around the office.

After the jump, behold Dallas Voice’s own little monsters.

—  Rich Lopez

The Gaga Countdown: Parties and afterparties galore — oooh, and more tickets just released

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You’d have to know that after Lady Gaga’s final song for the night, that the Monster Ball wouldn’t end there. Whether it’s official or not, clubland is buzzing with after parties following the concert. The Brick jumps the gun by getting their Gaga party in Wednesday night. If you’re still feeling “Starstruck,” then continue your adventure at these spots. They each give you the lowdown on their fab-tastic post concert experience.

Station 4 – “Calling all Little Monsters: GAGA Giant Afterparty at Station 4 on Thursday July 22 and Friday July 23. Bring your concert ticket stub and get in free (21+). Two nights of Lady Gaga’s greatest hits. After the concerts, head over to S4 and JUST DANCE!”

GhostbarNou Wav Thursdays and the House of Gaga host the “official afterparty” on Thursday. What makes it so official? Um, that would be because opening act Semi Precious Weapons will be there to perform a DJ set. So, we’d say that makes it pretty legit. Now, will Ms. Gaga? Well, we wonder.

Plush – So it’s not a gay club. Don’t worry. Ultra lounges are really just a Cosmopolitan away from being gay bars. Plush will host a look-alike-contest and ticket stubs get you in as VIP.

Dish goes Gaga Thursday with its Monster Ball Afterparty. G-tunes, inspired cocktails and a costume contest for Friday night tickets will be part of the bash. Dish also hosts a performance by “Dallas’ top Lady Gaga impersonator,” whoever that may be.

If you’re lacking for fun, then there’s nothing more I can do for you.

THIS JUST IN via Twitter — LiveNationDAL JUST ANNOUNCED — Additional tickets just released for Lady Gaga 7/22 & 7/23 at AAC! Get them before they sell out!

—  Rich Lopez