I think we can all agree that Lady Gaga is no T.S. Eliot. She’s more like the 21st century love child of Madonna and a 70’s-era Elton John. And just as those previous artists used shock and controversy to further their careers, Lady Gaga is doing the same with her outlandish costumes, faux-artistic philosophy, and questionably offensive lyrics. And she’s done it again with her new single, “Judas.” However, although this song appears to be some sort of God-hating, anti-Christian rant, it is nothing of the sort. It’s just another way for Lady Gaga to appear controversial without really being offensive.
Lady Gaga is certainly not the first artist to appropriate images and themes from religious tradition and mythology for her own purposes. Artists, songwriters, and poets have been using Christian imagery for millennia–and not always for the most Christian purposes. And politicians exploit Christianity all the time to garner votes and support from people who wouldn’t otherwise vote for them. In other words, Lady Gaga’s not doing anything new or even inventive with the song “Judas.” She’s just jumping on the bandwagon.
The song is more self-serving than it is offensive pontification. It’s clear from the lyrics that Lady Gaga knows the story of Judas—who was the apostle that betrayed Jesus and handed him over to the Jewish authorities, culminating in his Christ’s death. However, the song as a whole isn’t about Judas at all–it’s about Lady Gaga. Although the first verse clearly establishes that Gaga (Can you call someone by their last name if that last name is made up?) is in love with a Judas-type person–perhaps a former lover or backstabbing friend. But the rest of the lyrics seem to focus on Gaga’s lame obsession with a person who lies to her and treats her badly:
Forgive him when his tongue lies through his brain
Even after three times, he betrays me
I’m just a holy fool, oh baby he’s so cruel
But I’m still in love with Judas, baby
The song is not a celebration of Judas, but rather a lament that Gaga cannot overcome her love for a person who clearly treats her like dirt. Honestly, it’s kind of repulsive and stupid.
Not only do the lyrics paint Gaga as the psycho in the relationship, but they outright focus on her pseudo-edgy persona:
In the most Biblical sense,
I am beyond repentance
Fame hooker, prostitute wench, vomits her mind
But in the cultural sense
I just speak in future tense
Judas kiss me if offensed,
Or wear ear condom next time
I don’t know about you, but when someone has to point out to me how sad, confused, and offensive they are, they’re usually not very sad, confused, or offensive. Again, this song isn’t about Judas or Jesus–or religion at all. It’s just about self-promoting the Gaga.
Lastly, if there was any doubt that the song wasn’t some type of anti-Christian rant, why does she throw in this lyric at the end of the bridge?:
Jesus is my virtue
Judas is the demon I cling to
Clearly, the song isn’t about loving Judas more than God. In fact, in this lyric, she affirms her Christian belief, acknowledging Christ as her redeemer and calling Judas a demon. She’s just complaining that she can’t rip herself away from an obviously destructive relationship. *sheds an ironic tear*
Is Lady Gaga’s new single, “Judas,” offensive? Sure, but it’s offensive in the stupidest way. Not to make a point or to create a discussion about the existence of God or our repetitive sinful natures. She has simply appropriated emotionally charged imagery to appear offensive on the surface without really saying anything offensive, thus creating controversy and furthering her career. If you don’t like it, just plug your ears.