Lady Gaga’s Hypocrisy: An Analysis of Judas

A good artist creates things that cannot be easily pinned down or defined.  Like her or hate her, Lady Gaga is a good artist.  Sure, she’s a little quirky with her outfits made entirely of meat, and she says things just to be sensational, but her lyrics are meaningful.  I think you’ll find my analysis of her latest single to be intriguing.

Be sure to watch this video before reading further.

Before I jump into the lyrics, I want to take a closer look at the video itself.  Did you notice that the bike gang is composed of a Christ figure and twelve men representing the twelve disciples?   It’s clear that Lady Gaga wants us to focus on the biblical references, but for what purpose is yet to be determined.  I think it’s an interesting choice to make them bikers.  Bikers are often looked at as unrefined rebels, and you could certainly say the same for the disciples of Jesus.  They were rebels in relation to the established religion of the day, and also rebels in the eyes of the Romans.  Bikers also tend to travel in packs, which is how the disciples mostly moved around.

One observation I have that is of great importance is the relation of Lady Gaga to the Christ figure.  She is constantly near him, and usually clinging to him.  I don’t get the impression that she is portraying the Christ figure as undesirable or false in any way (Lady Gaga has stated that she believes in Jesus and God, but she has a lot of questions).  Actually, I was surprised with how non-offensive this video was.  Well, at least in terms of tearing apart Christianity.  Also, notice how she is usually between the Christ figure and the Judas character.  This has to be symbolic of something she states later in the song, “Jesus is my virtue, but Judas is the demon I cling to.”  She is torn between what she believes is true, and what she feels, which is the desire to rebel and indulge.  Basically, just like in her song,  “Just Dance”,  Lady Gaga is pinpointing the duality of human nature, or, to put it another way, the reality of ambivalence, which paves the way for hypocrisy.

Judas

Lady Gaga

Ohohohoh
I’m in love with Judas, Judas

Ohohohoh
I’m in love with Judas, Judas

Judas! Juda-as Judas! Juda-as
Judas! Juda-as Judas! GAGA

Judas is the disciple of Jesus who betrayed him into the hands of the Romans to be crucified.  His name is synonymous with betrayal, falsehood, and just plain evil.  He was as close to Jesus as one could be, as he spent many miles and days following him.  For Lady Gaga to say that she’s in love with Judas implies that she is attracted to the dark side, or even just attracted to those things that are less than godly.  Note how she ends this section of the song by saying her own name, which may indicate a fusion of identity between her and Judas.  Perhaps she sees herself as a Judas figure. 

[Lady Gaga – Verse 1]
When he comes to me, I am ready
I’ll wash his feet with my hair if he needs
Forgive him when his tongue lies through his brain
Even after three times, he betrays me

There’s a lot going on here.  In the Bible, a woman washes Jesus’ feet with her hair.  And there is a place where Peter, Jesus’ disciple denies him three times, and later Jesus forgives him.  So much of this is actually from the perspective of Christ.  But the first two lines could also be from Lady Gaga’s perspective.  When Jesus comes to her she is ready to show that she loves him by showing him the same kind of affection and reverence as the woman who washed his feet with her hair.  But the quick transition in the next few lines may indicate that Lady Gaga is saying these things of Jesus from her perspective.  That she feels that he has betrayed her somehow, or lied.  Perhaps she is expressing her frustration at how the church has lied to her somehow. 

I’ll bring him down, bring him down, down
A king with no crown, king with no crown

The Jews were expecting a conquering messiah.  They weren’t expecting their savior to die on a cross.  Jesus was a king without a crown, in that he didn’t seek power on earth to rule while he was living here.  I have heard it said that Judas was waiting for Jesus to become that powerful king on earth, but when he realized that he wasn’t going to fill that role, he decided to betray him since he felt betrayed.  This is all speculation, but it fits with an interpretation of the lyrics.  Judas is bringing Christ down because he is a king without a crown, and in his eyes, a false messiah.  Another way to interpret is to continue from the perspective of Lady Gaga from the last stanza, and say that she is bringing Christ down in how she lives, and by what she feels.  Notice that the word down is repeated three times.  The betrayal happens three times.  

[Chorus]

I’m just a Holy Fool, oh baby he’s so cruel
But still I’m in love with Judas, baby
I’m just a Holy Fool, oh baby he’s so cruel
But still I’m in love with Judas, baby

This could actually be from Jesus’ perspective.  Jesus knew Judas’ heart, and it is safe to say that he still loved him regardless.  So Lady Gaga is calling him a Holy Fool for keeping such an evil man close to him.  Or, this could be Lady Gaga acknowledging that she is foolish to love Judas and what he represents, but she can’t help it. 

Ohohohoh
I’m in love with Judas, Judas

Ohohohoh
I’m in love with Judas, Judas

Judas! Juda-as Judas! Juda-as
Judas! Juda-as Judas! GAGA

[Lady Gaga – Verse 2]
I couldn’t love a man so purely
Even prophets forgave his crooked way
I’ve learned love is like a brick you can
Build a house or sink a dead body

I’m honestly a little stumped by the first two lines.  She could be saying that she can’t love a man without also being impure, which is that conflict between holiness and sin.  But the second line puzzles me.  Prophets spoke about one who would betray Jesus, but I don’t see how they forgave him.  Unless she is speaking about Jesus, and implying that Jesus was somehow crooked.  This is possible since much of this song is about loving Judas and to see things from Judas’ perspective would probably paint Jesus in this negative light. 

The last two lines are a little easier to discern.  Love is like a brick in that it can build up or bring down.  Love is what brought Christ to live on earth, but it is also what brought him to the cross.  Love can give meaning to relationships, but it can also lead to tremendous sacrifice and pain.   At the end of the video, Lady Gaga is stoned (or bricked) to death.   Just keep that in mind. 

I’ll bring him down, bring him down, down
A king with no crown, king with no crown

[Chorus]
I’m just a Holy Fool, oh baby he’s so cruel
But still I’m in love with Judas, baby
I’m just a Holy Fool, oh baby he’s so cruel
But still I’m in love with Judas, baby

Ohohohoh
I’m in love with Judas, Judas

Ohohohoh
I’m in love with Judas, Judas

[Bridge]
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 offenced,
Or wear an ear condom next time

In the Bible, Judas hanged himself after betraying Jesus.  He felt despair and considered himself beyond repentance.  So, in the most Biblical sense he is beyond repentance because that’s what happens in the Bible.  But Lady Gaga is also speaking from her perspective, since in the next line she lists reasons that she is beyond repentance.  In that sense, she is not correct, since the Bible teaches that no one is beyond repentance.  BUT, we can look at it another way, and for that we need to consider the whole stanza.

In the last four lines she is speaking to the people in our culture.  To say she speaks in future tense is to call herself a cultural prophet.  How is she a prophet?  She identifies the hypocrisy of those who condemn her.  Those who judge her, are supposed to be those who don’t judge.  I am referring to the Christians.  In the second to last line she refers to those hypocrites as Judas because they have betrayed Christ and his teachings.  It is not hard to see how Lady Gaga would arrive at this conclusion since she is an outspoken proponent for gay rights.  From her perspective, many Christians hate and judge homosexuals, which is contrary to what Jesus would have done.  When she tells them to wear an ear condom she is saying many things.  For one, she is telling them not to listen to her if it makes them so disgusted.  She is also poking fun at the issue of abstinence vs. safe sex.  There is controversy among those who believe sex should not be taught in school, and that condoms only promote premarital sex, and those who believe that sex is going to happen anyway so people need to be educated on how to do it without hurting themselves.  Many Conservative Christians largely favor the abstinence policy over the condom use policy, so to tell them to use a condom is a jab.  Finally, AIDs is an issue in the gay community and condom use is meant to prevent the spread of it.   I could be completely off here, but based on some reasonable evidence, I think I’m at least on track. 

I wanna love you,
But something’s pulling me away from you
Jesus is my virtue,
And Judas is the demon I cling to
I cling to

This is the heart of the matter.  There is a conflict between values and actions.  There is a prevalence of hypocrisy among Christians, people in general, and specifically Lady Gaga herself.  We are torn between what is right and what we want. 

[Chorus]
I’m just a Holy Fool, oh baby he’s so cruel
But still I’m in love with Judas, baby
I’m just a Holy Fool, oh baby he’s so cruel
But still I’m in love with Judas, baby

Ohohohoh
I’m in love with Judas, Judas

Ohohohoh
I’m in love with Judas, Judas

Judas! Juda-as Judas! Juda-as
Judas! Juda-as Judas! GAGA

Advertisements

Posted on May 15, 2011, in Popular Culture, Religion. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Those two lines you said you weren’t quite getting, from a woman’s perspective if she’s talking about herself, she’s basically saying that she has an honest love for someone even though he wasn’t that great of a guy. This is the same as when a Christian loves Christ, often times they still have a love for things that are worldly, or “Judas”. And wasn’t Judas crooked? He sold Jesus out, and wasn’t just forgiven, but he was appreciated for it by non-believers, no matter how bad he felt afterward.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: