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Friday, May 06, 2011

Lady Gaga: The Judas Video

Good heavens.
I'm actually writing about Lady Gaga.

Hardly seems right.
But, to bring closure to the analysis of the lyrics, the least we can do is look at the video.
I'll embed it here so you can follow along, if you are really that fascinated.

The start portrays Jesus and the 12 as a biker gang.
This isn't that odd... medieval and Renaissance artists generally dressed Jesus and the disciples in clothing and settings contemporary to their own times, much as Godspell attempted to do for modern culture back in the 1970s (I've often wondered when we will get an artist who will portray Christ on a cross in a business suit, or in a t-shirt and blue jeans).

While a couple of disciples (Philip and Simon) are briefly seen at the very beginning, three main apostles get most of the screen shot at the beginning:
  • Thomas (the doubter),
  • Judas (the betrayer) and - after Judas gets a longing look from the lady - a focus on
  • John (the beloved disciple who alone refused to run from the foot of the Cross).
Jesus is, of course, the leader of the gang, wearing the crown of thorns.

A major theme in the video is the presence or absence of tears - when Lady Gaga is oriented towards or clinging to Jesus, there are no mascara tears. When she turns towards or thinks about Judas, tears appear.

Oddly enough, the first verse, in which she proclaims her love for Judas, she is actually clinging to Jesus and has no tears on her face. She pushes Judas roughly downstairs and heads towards what turns out to be a wedding with Jesus at the Electric Chapel.

When she hits the first chorus, proclaiming herself a holy fool and still in love with Judas, we see the first tears appear.

So, this is apparently a lover's triangle, where she is throwing over Judas to marry Jesus, but still loves Judas.

Meanwhile, Judas is shown going after whatever sensual pleasure he can get, completely ignoring the singer.

As she walks with Jesus, there are still tears in her eyes - she still loves Judas.

There's a visual connection between "love is like a rock" and Peter (from Petrus, the Rock). And, of course, love can be like a millstone that is tied around your neck as you are cast into the sea (more on that in a bit), or it can be used to build up the house [of God].

A brief visual sign of forgiveness and an open cage followed closely by a swinging mace could be a reference to the sacrament of confession or to the harrowing of hell or both. This is immediately followed by (and reinforced with) Jesus warning Judas away from the singer. There are still tears in the singer's eyes.

We see a quick visual reference to the ropes and wood of the Crucifixion, with a shot of the crowned head of Jesus as the singer reiterates that Judas is a king with no crown.

She is taken to the chapel and protected by Jesus, as a mob fight breaks out and Judas follows. She clings to Jesus, but still has tears in her eyes.

Judas is still whoring around outside, Lady Gaga's tears are increasing.

She has to make a choice - she uses a gun to prepare to shoot Judas dead, but instead of a bullet, lipstick comes out, which she smears on Judas cheeks.

Although visually she is conflicted, as she wields the gun against Judas she has no tears in her eyes.

As Jesus calms the crowd, now we see the choice: either Lady Gaga is engulfed in the waters of the sea (sin) or in the baptismal waters.

Jesus is on her right in the baptismal font, giving life to the waters, Judas is on her left in the baptismal font: the waters of baptism can wash her sins away. Around the baptismal font, fire rages (Our God is a consuming fire). She pours out an Erhlenmeyer flask of water (these flasks are used for measuring liquids in chemistry - the measuring cup that pours out justice and mercy upon the nations). It is an interesting artifact of the video that, for the viewer, our right and left put the two figures in reverse.

Both men have their feet on the rock... whose feet shall she wash?

As the sea flood carries her near a bridge (Jesus is the Pontifex, the bridge between God and man), she chooses to wash Jesus' feet. Jesus is the winner, and is helped up into the winner's ring, as the evil in Lady Gaga is washed away by the sea.

The lipstick-smeared Judas is then seen kissing Jesus on both cheeks.

The tears are now gone from the singer's eyes, and she holds the gun as she glances back at Judas but clings to Jesus.

It is interesting to note that in the final portion, Judas pours what appears to be a beer over the singer's buttocks and groin, in an obvious act of disgust and dismissal, and an apparent acknowledgement that most modern sins originate below the waist.

She responds by mocking him, throwing baptismal water in his face. Throughout this sequence, she has no tears in her eyes.

She then dresses in a white bridal gown, but has her fingernails and hair daubed with black - an apparent reference to her current lifestyle, as the crowd stones her to death. In Scripture, a woman could be stoned to death for adultery.

Her face is clear of tears, until she sings her own name.
As she sings her own name, the tears reappear.

My conclusion?

She knows exactly what she's doing.
She did it as well as it can be done in a music video.
Pray for her.


Alan Aversa said...

I still like this video better, courtesy the people at Chant Café.

Alan Aversa said...

Interestingly, her "Alejandro" video is about redemption, too, at least according to her agent. Also, Wikipedia has a good synopsis and analysis of "Judas," and there is also a good Washington Post article on how many have overreacted in dismissing it blasphemous.

But, similar arguments could argue that this video has Masonic themes and symbolism, too, especially based on Lady Gaga's comment that she and her collaborators have, in the process of making the video, "created a new Jerusalem." That article also quotes her saying she almost left during the production process because she thought it was offensive. She very much likes religious art, and I am willing to bet she would be (or perhaps secretly is) a promoter of the generally more ascetically profound (NLM) Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

Pray for her. It could be her agents who forced her to support the LBGTQ and abortion agendas. I know many lapsed Catholics who actually know more about Catholicism than some other Catholics. One, an anarchist, actually knew not only what "mea culpa" means but also that it is said during the Catholic Mass. If have often wondered why satanist/anarchists seem so fascinated by Catholic art and symbolism, even if they pervert it in imitating it. Evil is the corruption of good, and evil has no power on its own. Good is always the victor.

St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us!

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Yeah, Wikipedia and the WaPo both have kind of shallow interpretations, although WaPo does a better job than Wikipedia.

Her support of LBGTQ and abortion is probably real - there's a lot of pretty messed up Catholics out there, and she appears to be a leading light among them.

As for Masonic elements... beats me.

Doug Pearson said...

This is the first music video that I have watched since I was about 15 years old... I think I am good for another 30 years.

I feel like I just watched an S.O.S. message from the first circle of Hell.

ilovemyelias said...

Whoever wrote this is clearly just trying to get people to his/her blog. If you were such a righteous Christian, you'd pray for her and leave it alone. Instead, you want everyone to know your opinion about the subject so you can be viewed as an even greater Christian for suggesting she needs prayer. Remember the hypocrite, as he prayed in public.

How about prayer for EVERYONE? Let's not just focus on someone who is an artist. No matter what you want to believe, that's what it boils down to. She is a performer, she is very talented, and she probably knows more about The Bible than half of America. On another note, I have never once heard her make any comments whatsoever about abortion, even when asked, so don't start ugly rumors. This is basically a gossip column/fear campaign for older people to make Christianity look even more unappealing to our younger generation. You all are making the entire religion laughable with your incessant paranoia about how the world is going to Hell in a handbasket over Lady Gaga and texting all day.

Seriously, give it a rest. Concentrate on yourselves and work on building your relationship with God, not your little blog "fans."

Steve Kellmeyer said...


First off, you are correct. I blog about this to get readers to my blog, just as Lady Gaga released her video on Easter in order to generate noise and views of her video.

I don't know why you are happy when Lady Gaga does it, but not happy when I do it.

Second, we should pray for everyone, that is true. But people in public trust need more prayer because they suffer more attacks from the devil. The number of priests who have been led astray should be a testimony to that.

Third, the reason I said to pray for her is PRECISELY because Lady Gaga virtually says it in her video.

The penultimate word of the video has her face without tears. The last word of the video, "Gaga" has her face covered in mascara tears again. She essentially SAYS, using the language she herself established in the video, that she is falling into evil.

I believe her when she tells me that in her own video.

Why don't you?

Kurt said...

You sure this isn't just an excuse for a middleaged man to oggle a scantily clad young lady shaking her groove thing?

"Pray for her" is a worthy sentiment, but me thinks it could have been expressed without posting her immodest video and inviting your readers to partake in it.

Alan Aversa said...

I second what Kurt said.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

OK - well, you are welcome to your opinion.

If you don't like a column, I suggest you don't read it.

I've stated why I wrote both Lady Gaga columns in the columns themselves. Your illiteracy is not my problem.

joan said...

Thanks for your post.
If you think of today's modern Church,this could be an artistic view of the crisis:the Church that is not interested in Tradition and betrays Jesus daily in thought, word and deed. Jesus betrayed in the New Mass.

Steve Kellmeyer said...


I hadn't thought of that angle, but you're right - there's a lot of correspondence between the video and a Novus Ordo parish; not just the way the run the Mass, but the way the whole parish is generally run.

The only thing I know about Lady Gaga is this song (and now video), but she strikes me as a typical product of the typical American Catholic parochial school or parish youth group. Those schools and youth groups are disappearing fast, of course, but as long as they're around we'll have Madonna/Lady Gaga/etc.

Angel said...

Heya! I am currently doing a thesis on popular culture. More specifically,focusing on the consumption of music videos by teenagers. I have made a video which focuses on Lady Gaga and basically takes you through a brief analysis of her music and her. Would appreciate it if you guys could check it out and tell me your views! Thanks guys!