Lady Gaga spoof gets the nod
Dan de Luce
Washington - American soldiers gyrating to Lady Gaga in a video spoof will not face any reprimand for their massive YouTube hit, the US Army said on Thursday.
The video by paratroopers in western Afghanistan dancing in a choreographed remake of Lady Gaga's hit Telephone has attracted more than 3.5 million views and made a young sergeant an overnight online star.
While the amateur dance number bears no resemblance to the slick promotional videos the military uses for recruitment, army commanders raised no objections to their soldiers shaking their booty, a spokesperson said.
"The paratroopers involved were not disciplined at all for their actions," said Major Michelle Baldanza of the 82nd Airborne Division.
"They did nothing illegal, immoral or unethical and the video did not violate our operational security at all," she said in an email from Kandahar airfield.
She added that "the brigade command team is happy to see that they (the paratroopers) also still have a good sense of humour and that morale is high."
Sergeant Aaron Melcher, 24, the mastermind behind the video, introduces the clip on YouTube with the words: "Prepare yourself for a fantastical journey."
The video lives up to its billing, transforming seven soldiers into a farcical dance troupe offering a little relief from a grim war.
The stocky Melcher, who looks more suited to American football than mimicking a skinny pop star, steals the show as he grinds with abandon to the beat in a sweat-stained T-shirt and camouflage pants.
He pouts as he plays the role of Lady Gaga, and in another scene goes shirtless under a veiled hat, imitating the pop star's get-up of yellow police tape. He joins six other comrades in various makeshift costumes, featuring black underwear and two big telephone cutouts on the wall.
The backdrop to the fanciful dancing and dressing up is a spare military outpost, with plywood walls, a dart board and a rifle propped up against the wall.
Unlike Lady Gaga's raunchy Telephone video with Beyonce, the soldiers' version is more innocent and no one gets poisoned.
Melcher and his dance partners are mechanics who came to Afghanistan in August and are stationed at a remote forward operating base in western Farah province with the 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne, which is charged with training Afghan security forces.
When they are not making dance videos, the mechanics' "primary job is fixing broken vehicles and keeping them maintained," Baldanza said.