Lady Gaga Judas Video Pushes The… Nothing

Lady Gaga Judas

First of all, let’s agree that pretty much all music videos have a touch of ridiculousness to them. When you boil it all down, they’re just commercials that attempt to persuade us to by an artist’s album, the mp3 or even just the artist. That being said, there are serious videos, funny videos, clever videos, and videos that have no substance whatsoever. Lady Gaga’s video for her latest single, “Judas,” falls into this last category.

Earlier this week, I wrote about the lyrics for this song and determined that it shouldn’t be offensive to Christians (it only has the appearance of mocking Christianity without actually mocking it).  It should however be offensive to music lovers because it is a bad, self-promotional song with no meaningful substance.  This is true of the video as well.


Madonna Wannabe

First of all, as I pointed out in the last article, Lady Gaga isn’t the first artist to use religious imagery for shock value. In fact, Madonna did it first, and much more effectively almost 20 years ago in here “Like a Prayer” video. As opposed to Lady Gaga’s meaningless and haphazard collage of religious imagery, Madonna’s video creates an engaging postmodern argument about racism, redemption, and the theater of religion. Although Gaga wants to create meaning out of her pastiche, all we get is a muddled up mess.  All we walk away with is some simplistic representation of Jesus, the 12 apostles and the stoning of a woman, none of which makes cohesive sense when pasted together. If Gaga really wanted to take a note straight from Madonna’s playbook, she should have paid a little more attention and imbued it with some substance, or at least some cohesion.

Fuzzy Symbolism

The main difference between “Judas” and an effective music video is that Gaga’s symbolism makes no sense. As far as plotline goes, apparently Lady Gaga is in a relationship with the Jesus-like leader of a biker gang whose jackets are conveniently labels for us with their names: John, Peter, Thomas, etc.–the 12 apostles, if you’re a little slow. But all the while she’s making eyes at Judas. They go to a biker bar (the Electric Chapel–*groan*), where they live it up. Then, for some inexplicable reason, Lady Gaga agonizes over putting lipstick on Judas (from here golden lipstick gun), after which Judas kisses Jesus as the sign of betrayal, or repentance, or something.  Finally, Lady Gaga is stoned to death, wearing what appears to be a wedding gown made out of cellophane.

As I’ve said before, Judas is only an offensive song is you like meaningful lyrics and good songwriting. In reality, the lyrics are only a way for Gaga to appear shocking without actually being offensive, thus boosting her controversy level and her career. It is no surprise that the video follows the same route.

Although the song is (supposedly) about being in love with someone who betrays you (thanks for everyone who tried to explain that to me in my last post), the video is about how Lady Gaga flirts with someone who is not her boyfriend and gets stoned for it. Therefore the video, just like the song, co-opts emotionally laden religious imagery, ignoring the actual significance of the imagery, in order to paint Gaga as the pained and tortured artist/savior. A character that is–frankly–a little played out.

Bad Dancing

Finally, for such a club-beat heavy song, there is a surprisingly small amount of actual dancing going on, at least not what I would consider dancing. There is a lot of arm waving and upper-body movement, but very little footwork. And most of the dancers don’t move more than a couple of feet from their positions, making the video an extremely bad example of the how danceable the song really is. (Although I was pleased to see the fantastic Mark Kanemura in the group of backup dancers.)

I’ll give Lady Gaga some props; the song is catchy, but that’s all it is. And the video is further proof that Lady Gaga, for all her touted artistic aspirations and photocopied philosophies, is no more than a Madonna wannabe who is only concerned with self-promotion through glitter and glam without any substance to back it up.

This guest post is by Edwin Daniels who blogs at USdish. You can also follow him on Twitter: @Edandish.

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  • Anonymous

    Okay for one lady GaGa is one of the most influential people in the world. She and all her fans don’t care about what you think. The creativity in music is endless and there is really no limits. GaGa has a right to all of her songs and believe it or not DING BAT they have meaning. All songs have meaning. Even if the person who wrote it is the only one who know the song’s meaning, the song is still great. Basically my point is that all your haters out there that don’t like Lady GaGa and don’t like her songs can go ahead and do that. Part of her message is being strong when people doubt you. So I know that while GaGa is reading these INCREDIBLY STUPID AND MEAN writings she doesn’t care. Because we are strong and yall are just jealous of us.

    • Rusty

      Lady Gaga informed me that she read this post and is very pleased with the analysis.

      • Rush

        I think her dancing and message is “Incredibly Stupid And Mean”, and what do you mean by “Jealous of us”? Your not Lady Gaga, you are nothing…

    • Darolo

      In your dreams baby!!!

  • i agree with
    Anyway, lady gaga is just a modern day madonna but at the same time 1,000,000 times better!

    • Anonymous

      I <3 u Jordan! I'm ignoring the person who also responded bcuz we all kno that she's just sad that she's not Lady GaGa. That's just final and we <3 u Lady gaga 2!

      • Sarahcthorson

        Thats what intelligent people do, ignore people who engage them in debate lol. It is fine to like the song, just don’t go calling her an artistic genius simply because you like the song.

        • Anonymous

          This is not my favorite Lady GaGa song. But I do <3 Lady Gaga for her other songz. Plus her talent, style and message.

  • Sarahcthorson

    I think Lady Gaga is a genius. She has found a way to become rich and famous off of dumb people who think she actually has meaning in her songs. She is just doing what she knows will make her A TON OF MONEY! You are not really intelligent if you think her songs are intelligent. All it takes is a simple analysis, which looks like has been done by Mr. Daniels here.

  • sachertorte

    The writer hit the nail on the head. Gaga is shit. He just chose to nicely word that for me in a manner that I can use in debate 😀

  • lolababe

    Edwin Daniels is totally right. i found the song kind of crappy and the video confusing and weird. not one of lady gaga’s best.

  • JaneSays

    I think this was well put and a fair analysis of the video. I don’t know if I would call myself a “fan” of Lady Gaga, but I do appreciate her style and the amount of work that must go into these videos. As a result, high expectations might be partly to blame for my disappointment in the “Judas” video.

    I will admit, I did not have a lot of respect for her work until I saw the video for “Bad Romance.” I can’t speak for other generations, but personally, I had never seen anything quite like it. Having grown in the days of Britney and Christina, it was refreshing to see a powerful female artist that didn’t sacrifice her creativity for the sake of being “sexy.” After hearing lyrics like “how’d I turn my shirt inside out?” I had initially pegged Gaga within this category, but was pleasantly surprised when I saw her video. I agree that the tortured artist character is a bit played out, but at least it contains an element of art (the skimpy outfits haven’t disappeared, but the air of subjugation that used to accompany them has certainly taken a hit).

    With that being said, the lack of substance in the “Judas” video was a bit disappointing. The religious symbolism seemed forced and unnecessary, and it lacked the power and originality of some of her other videos. Being controversial, like being a sex symbol, is a gimmick that can only take an artist so far. I think Gaga has the potential to make a lasting impression (especially given her dedicated following of fans-as evidenced here), but only if her music and videos contain meaning and depth beyond what is seen in “Judas.”

    • Anonymous

      I’m perfectly okay with your opinion. Lady GaGa isn’t for everyone. The only thing that gets me is when people say that she’s stupid and has no meaning in her songs and stuff like that. Lady GaGa stands up for people and their rights as human beings. She is very crazy in showing that sometimes but that’s just HER. I really hate when people write all these mean things about her because of the fact that they just don’t understand people that are different. When I say US (just for “Rush’s information) I’m talking about people who deal with people LIKE YOU (Rush) that say that we are nothing. Because I AM something. I AM important and no matter what you say I know I am. Lady GaGa started out just like me. Where is she now? Famous? Rich? Yes that’s true
      “Sarahcthorson”, but what Lady GaGa REALLY has is fans that support her. This may have not been one of GaGa’s best songs, but don’t go hatin on her just because you don’t like it. WE don’t care.

    • Darolo

      Sure glad to hear that. Honesty is the best policy. Gaga won’t last if all her fans are scared to criticise with honesty when she gets it wrong.

  • First of all, She agonizes over putting lipstick on Judas because:

    She was putting lipstick on Judas so Judas could kiss Jesus meaning that Jesus was going to die. Mary loved Jesus as much as she loved Judas.

    Second of all, there is a lot of foot work. Maybe not on the music video, but if you watch her performance on Ellen, there is a lot of feet movement that is really hard to follow.

    Lastly, When they go into the Electric Chapel, only Judas lives it up. Jesus is watching Judas closely and Gaga is supposed to execute him for his actions. Gaga, instead of killing him, lets him live. Get it now? Oh, and the stoning, they stoned her to death for letting Judas kiss Jesus, not because she flirted with someone else. Mary Magdalene had no boyfriend. And if you read the bible, she might as well be stoned because she had sex out of marriage.

  • Scotty

    This article provides little to no substantial evidence supporting its claim. Any true scholar would take one look at this and write it off as a personal rant against an artist. Despite this fact, I’ll take the bait and respond.

    To your first point, you make the claim that Lady Gaga has copied from Madonna. May I first applaud you for your originality in this concept. You’re the first person to ever mention that. By the way, where do you think Madonna got her look and style? From a small actress known as Marilyn Monroe. Here’s an interesting compilation of all the people Madonna has copied: So to your comment that Lady Gaga poorly copied Madonna: 1) Again, this is your personal opinion about her usage of religious imagery which still stands unsupported by any empirical evidence, 2) This is a claim that seems to suppose that Madonna is the mother of all music and therefore anyone following her is a copy-cat since you seem to claim that she was the original.

    To your second point, you write a lot of snarky comments about the plot of the music video and then fail to show or analyze why this symbolism is “fuzzy”. For someone so obsessed with the existence or lack of symbolism you sure do dismiss it quickly by essentially summing up that it isn’t significant. Well pardon me if I don’t take the questionable conclusions you draw on face value. Being an unknown and clearly uninformed writer gives you little to no authority on this subject. My advice, research and then back up your claims with that substantive evidence.

    To your third point, I don’t even know what to say… This is again your personal opinion which ultimately comes off as a rant about the artist.

    It’s clear from this article (and your other article about Gaga) that you have a personal vendetta against this particular artist. I would have appreciated and possibly even respected this article more if it weren’t for the lack of evidence and analytical thinking. Overall the points made in this article reduce to tabloidesque opinions. This is most likely why your article is published on, because anyone who read this would instantly dismiss it as a ranting opinion rather than an intellectual discourse about film analysis. I’m sure you’re going to respond to this comment with some snarky remark as you did with other people who posted on your website before – go for it and see if I care. It will only prove that you are unable to have an intellectual discourse with anyone – further proving my point.

    • Guest

      Well said

    • Tripoli

      I don’t understand.

    • Darolo

      Madonna never ripped off her fellow artists. All her ‘inspirations’ as Gaga calls them, were people no longer around – eg Monroe, Dietrich, Mae West, Garbo, Kelly etc. Madonna is an intellectual and draws on literature along with classic films.

      • Scotty

        The fact that someone is dead does not make it any more legitimate. If I plagiarize from an author who’s dead, it’s still considered plagiarism. Drawing the line between ripping-off and “inspiration” based on the person’s living status is incorrect. While I understand what you’re getting at, I don’t agree that Gaga drawing on Biblical text and artists who are alive is any different from Madonna drawing on literature and artists that are dead.

  • Johnny MacK

    It is absolutely ridiculous to me that people have actually commented on this subject and referred to Lady Gaga as, ‘intelligent’. Come on people do some research on Lady Gaga before you start throwing out ridiculous comments.