Lady Gaga’s “Judas” Music Video: The Mini-Recap

Maybe our standards are too high at this point. We were spoiled by Telephone and its cigarette glasses, PUSSY WAGON, lesbian makeout and overall campy awesomeness. We were spoiled by Alejandro‘s gender-bending pseudo nazi-ism. We were spoiled when Bad Romance made music videos relevant again. Her videos give me new appreciation for her songs.

But did I deconstruct Bad Romance so thoroughly at the time, thinking, “Huh! Looks like there’s more at work here than meets the eye!

I don’t think I did.

Don’t get me wrong. I love all Lady Gaga videos always. But when it comes to recapping, Telephone was so much fun to recap, and it embodied everything I love about this woman. But Born This Way and Judas have been a little bit more challenging.

In fact, Born This Way was SO challenging that I um, didn’t recap it. This was as far as I got with that one:

Lady Gaga Born This Way

Totally worth the wait, I know.

I’m torn as to whether Lady Gaga is attempting to impart any meaning/importance/social significance/commentary in her videos these days. Is she trying to make a statement or is she just making a crazy music video for her song? Judas is a song about betrayal — a betrayer she’s still in love with — and that’s a thing we can relate to. Of course we can find the religious imagery in the song and video, and that’s fun, but beyond that … I think this is just a … music video.

So the point is that this isn’t a traditional recap so to speak, it’s mostly screengrabs! However, I suggest/highly recommend reading every. single. comment our readers have left on this open thread about ‘Judas for incredible symbolic/biblical insight on the video. The discourse is amazing, and this is why WE HAVE BETTER READERS THAN YOU.

Okay? We cool? Ready — go!

The curtain opens, and the 12 disciples are on the highway to the dangerzone.

Lady-Gaga-Judas-Recap-opening

Clearly this is how my Catholic class teacher should’ve taught the gospel to me: “The 12 disciplines drove into Jerusalem on their motorcycles. Then Mary Magdalene showed us what she’s workin’ with!” (I went to public school but my parents put my brother and myself into a weekly night religion class so we could learn about Jesus. And I/we did.)

Gaga-slash-Mary Magdalene (because we all know that is who she is portraying here) is lookin’ back at Judas all lingering and shit. She probably can’t get over him even though he probs done her wrong or something. I don’t know, I just have this feeling, yannow?

Lady-Gaga-Judas-Recap-opening2

Why do the good girls always want the bad boys? #rhetorical

Lady-Gaga-Judas-Recap-judas

So pretty much there are two things that make this video worth-watching. And I think you would agree that one of those things is this red underwear get-up she’s sporting:

Lady-Gaga-Judas-Recap-red-outfit

I’ll get to the second reason in a hot second … but first — the macarena, duh:

Lady-Gaga-Judas-Recap-Macarena

Also. When I first heard Judas on the radio I was confused: “this can’t possibly be an actual song,” I thought. (That was mostly about the parts where she sounds like a cat. Also at first I thought the lyrics said “I’m just a horny fool.”)

I now realize this is a song, a real song, whether you like it or not. I’ve warmed up to the tune. I like it. The chorus is pop perfection. Also “ear condoms” are given a shout-out in the lyrics. This is the truth, just like the entire Bible.

Lady Gaga Judas Recap Earcondoms

Are you ready for the best dance sequence? Everyone can learn this choreography, even my friends dead cat. I am serious it’s awesome and the second best thing about this video:

Lady-Gaga-Judas-Recap-dance-sequence

I want this look/outfit so bad I can hardly stand it.

Next scene, verse 2: Gaga’s full-on in the blue and red garment situation, which according to my classes in art history, means she is one of the holy women — probs in this case Mary Magdalene, as we already discussed. I’m just stretching my art history muscles here (because really, when else do I get to do such a thing?), but when the Virgin Mary is portrayed in any art pre-renaissance and throughout the Renaissance, she is wearing the blue and red garment/robe. Ta-da! Thank you Fashion Institute of Technology!

Also, I think its interesting that Gaga points out Peter in this one specific sequence where she also says “I’ve learned love is like a brick you can / Build a house or sink a dead body” in the lyrics. Because as L. Valentine pointed out in this post, the disciple Peter went on to establish the catholic church:
Lady-Gaga-Judas-Recap-peter

Way to go, Peter. Now I can’t get married, and also, Jesus said not to worship “brick and mortar.”

Alright, back to the music: now we have Gaga seemingly marking Judas with lipstick, which I thought at first was just for funsies (and I LOLed a little) and additional gender-bending, but no actually this goes back to the bible thing again. This was how Judas betrayed Jesus: this, as the story goes, was how Judas identified the blasphemer to the roman guards. So then it became more significant and less weird, but whatever, Gaga knows her shit.
Lady-Gaga-Judas-Recap-kiss-of-betrayal

Then some water is like what’s up, then Jesus is like whoa, guys, chill! I got this! then Gaga/Mary Magdalene washes Jesus’ feet as I believe the story goes (again), and then I kind of stop paying attention cause this water part really throws me off:
Lady-Gaga-Judas-Recap-lots-of-stuff

The end of the video is kind of sad. I hate seeing Gaga surrounded by people throwing things at her while she wears her favorite Queen Amidala halloween costume:
Lady-Gaga-Judas-Recap-stoning

Aaaaand that about wraps up our Bible class for this evening, guys. Thanks for coming. Thanks for your amazing/scholastic reviews and insight deconstructions of this video. I thoroughly enjoyed what you had to say in our previous post/Judas open thread!

I’m looking forward to anything else you have to add!

Cofounder and Design Director of Autostraddle. Professional web/graphic designer. Whiskey enthusiast. Drumming hobbyist. A past speaker at the 2010 BlogHer Conference ("Good Blog Design: The Role of Layout in an Online Medium"), 2013 Salon LGBTQ Conference ("Innovative Best Practices for Brand-Blogger Campaigns") and featured in the Los Angeles Edition of Refinery29's 30 Under 30 in 2013. Co-owns and manages Tully's Training, a dog training company in Los Angeles. Twitter: @a_ex Instagram: alexxxvegaaa

Alex has written 120 articles for us.

83 Comments

  1. I must confess (oh no, my ancestors’ latent Catholicism is creeping back in with all this Jaysus talk…), the conversations this video/recap has sparked are way more interesting to me than the video itself. Not that I don’t love Gaga unconditionally. Actually, I love her even more now for making us all harken back to our religious studies/art history classes. Even if this video isn’t my favorite of hers, with “Judas” she’s done one of the things art is all about — getting people to discuss Ideas! And bedazzled leather jackets. Also important.

    Um, also I totally thought it was “I’m just a horny fool” also. Thanks for clearing that up.

  2. Does anyone thing that the style of the outfits has anything to do with a message she’s trying to send out?
    The style of the outfits are overblown and gaudy looking in my opinion.
    It makes me wonder if Gaga is trying to say the whole story of Jesus and Judas is a bit overly dramatic in some sense, or our reactions to the story is told too often.

    Do you feel me?

  3. Ok so I’m going to go off on a tangent because I’m a Jew and like to talk about the Old Testament a lot. Ok? Ok. Basically this has to do with the cutting off of Judas’ name to Judah (“Jude-ah-ah”), which I saw someone mention briefly but nobody actually talk about – if someone’s already said all of this, I apologize, but I didn’t see it.

    One main story about Judah in the Old Testament is about Judah’s relationship with Tamar. Judah was one of Jacob’s 12 sons, who formed/form the 12 tribes of Israelites/Jews. Tamar was a woman who married Judah’s eldest son. A big commandment for Jews is to procreate, make babies, etc – but this son didn’t want to impregnate his wife b/c Tamar was supes hawt and he didn’t want her to gain weight/get ugly/stretch her whatever by birthing a child, so he had sex with her but would use his own form of birth control – aka didn’t come inside her (sorry, graphic). THIS IS A SIN AND HE DIES REALLY YOUNG B/C GOD IS PUNISHING HIM. Tamar then marries the next son; this is legit thing to do, it’s his responsibility to take over from his brother and make babies, give Tamar a home and money to survive, etc. But he does the same thing as his brother AND DIES TOO. Then Tamar asks to marry the third son, who’s still really young, when he’s of appropriate age, and Judah agrees, but time comes and goes and nada for her, she’s just hanging around Judah’s family and being bored and broke.
    Tamar then decides to get what she rightfully deserves – and God totally agrees with Tamar on this one, which makes it a really controversial story and heavily discussed in Orthodox classrooms – she needs to dress up as a prostitute and covers her face to conceal her identity and waits by the city outskirts/gates and solicit Judah, b/c he/his family is really responsible for her. He sleeps with her but has no money to pay, so gives her his staff and a ring as collateral. When he goes back to pay with money and get his stuff back, she is gone.

    Tamar gets pregnant from this debacle. But she’s still living within Judah’s house, community, etc, so when she starts showing everyone’s like wtfff whooore and decides to kill her for her actions. Right as she’s about to be killed, she shows the staff and the ring and says, whoever’s possessions these are, is the father of my child. She doesn’t reveal Judah’s identity – nobody knows who’s shit she’s holding – but Judah sees it and steps forward and admits what he did and that it’s his child, and she’s not killed. And – get this – she has twins and becomes the great-great-great-foremother or whatever of King David and the entire lineage of the Kingdom of Judah, which is a big frickin deal.

    SO. GAGA.
    Obviously the focus is the Judas/Jesus thing. OBVIOUSLY. But I think that besides referencing Mary Magdalene, she’s also referencing Tamar. Hear me out.

    Aesthetically/video:
    – They all ride up on the city outskirts = city outskirts/gate where Tamar meets Judah to sleep with him.
    – All the bikers = all the 12 sons/tribes, which are, when you think about, like one gang going to start the Jewish nation.
    – Gaga has the sunglasses covering her face in the beginning and keeps brandishing the blue train thingy to conceal her face = how she covered her face when she was being a prostitute.
    – When they all dance in the big town square in front of a big burning thing = the center where they are all gathered to burn Tamar (her punishment was to be death by being burnt alive).
    – Judas is suggestively touching/kissing a bunch of slutty girls = hello he picked up a prostitute.
    – She’s brandishing that gun to kill him = she has evidence to take him down (“bring him down, down”), but in the end she’s not shooting – just showing her cards. The lipstick smearing on his face is aka her showing him the stuff he gave her when he slept with her – and even though they’re in this big crowd of people, this scene in the vid is super intense/personal/eye contact-y between them, which is what the whole point of Tamar was – that she showed him and only him the sign that it was her. She then falls to the ground = she’s willing to actually die if he doesn’t reveal himself; she’s leaving him that choice.
    – She’s with them in the water jacuzzi situation in front of a roaring fire = sex (which is what the jacuzzi sitch symbolizes) leads to death by burning fire.
    – In the entire video, she only wears one ring – and granted, it’s a huge cross, but she wears all this other jewelry and crazy nails and headdresses and little gloves but only ONE ring = symbolizes the ring she shows to Judah to signal to him that she’s the woman he slept with.

    Actual lines of the song:
    – “Even after three times he betrays me” = Reference to three sons. Even after all three sons don’t do what they’re supposed to, Judah doesn’t take action/care, which he’s supposed to.
    – “A king with no crown” = References that through this intercourse, the future kingdom of Judah will be born (originally there was only supposed to be one king and kingdom, of Israel, but the kingship splits and there are two dominions, Israel and Judah). He’s a future king, but no crown yet = this is sort of her duty slash God’s will that through this the new kingdom will be established.
    – The entire chorus = she wants to be a part of slash she’s meant to be a part of this particular family of Judah. Even after all this tragedy it’s not like she tries to marry anyone else – she’s “in love with” THIS family/lineage/person. And she is holy, as proven by the fact that God is totally on her side and rewards her a ton for this whole crisis.
    – “I am beyond repentance, fame hooker, prostitute wench” = she prostitutes herself for Judah. Duh.
    – “I just speak in future tense” = References that she’s just doing this for the future, for the lineage that will come out of them, etc.

    OBVS IT’S ALL ABOUT JUDAS AND JESUS. HELLO. IT’S WRITTEN ON THE BACKS OF THEIR JACKETS AND THEY ALL WEAR CROSSES ETC. This is just one aspect I think is hidden yet referenced continuously as well. Gaga is a multilayered cake, kids.

    Tell me what you think.

    • I think you may be on to something here, but that something may also be that there are a lot of parallels between Hebrew Bible Judah and New Testament Judas.

      And now it fascinates me how these stories repeat themselves and I need to go dig out a Bible.

    • I agree with @Marika; I think it’s more because of the parallels and coincidences between Jesus’s 12 homies and the 12 tribes, as well as Mary’s historical transformation into a prostitute. Nonetheless, that was a really great reference and just goes to show how prominent these same themes are throughout the Bible.

      And holy cheese, I just regurgitated Marika’s words lol Two for two?

      • Is okay to regurgitate my words, I am indeed awesome…

        Also. I win the nerd game because I just facebook messaged my former Old Testament theo prof about this. I will report back with her thoughts–I expect she will see a lot of the imagery that @Po is seeing.

    • I do think that the “even after three times he betrays me” reference being related to Judah is a bit of a stretch…the most obvious interpretation is referring to Peter’s denial of Christ (before the cock crows you will deny me three times). I mean, it’s not impossible tho.

      I know that certain numbers repeat throughout Judaism and Christianity…has anyone really thought about direct parallels between each apostle and the 12 tribes of Israel? Or have I not slept enough again?

      And if there are parallels between Judas Iscariot and old-school Judah, are there any with Judas Maccabeus? Or is that just a random dude who happened to be named Judas (and was a BAMF, from what I’ve heard)?

      • I think it’s a pretty obvious (re: intentional) parallel with the 12 Tribes and the 12 Apostles. That was probably the Biblical authors’ way of reconciling the two concepts of People of Israel united under 12 [insert noun].

        And about Maccabeus, he was a warrior-hero type, so I think the Judas name is just a coincidence. I mean, Jesus’ real name should be Joshua, but I wouldn’t say he resembles Moses’ buddy Joshua.

      • The transliteration of names from Hebrew to English actually means that “Judah” and “Judas” are both English words for the same name in Hebrew – Yehuda. And there were lots of dudes named Yehuda – including Judas Iscariot. But Judah Maccabee has no real parallels; he and his four brothers and father waged a war against the Greeks during the time of the second Temple. The point of his story is that they were courageous and the few overpowered the many, the weak overpowered the strong, etc, b/c God was on their side. There’s no hidden dark side or underbelly of the story, so I don’t think that fits exactly.

        Also I think you may be right about it just being parallels of the story, but the original Judah came first, and I do actually think there’s symbolism in the song/vid for it as well. And obvs I have strong opinions about the validity of the Old vs the New Testament, so maybe I’m not really only making an argument in regard to the vid but in regard to every story in the New Test being recycled from the Old Testament. Idk.

        • Uh yeah can we agree not to argue about the validity of the Old and New Testaments? Cause yeah then this thread will turn into a shitshow and I don’t really think we should start arguing who is right and who isn’t.

          I kind of suspected you were going in the direction that the New Testament recycles themes from the Old (obviously true) but I strongly suspect that most of these themes were based on the New Testament and therefore only tangentially on the Old.

          I mean, none of us are really gonna know exactly what was behind it, but I’m feeling a little bit like I was reading too much into it when I didn’t sleep ALL OF LAST WEEK.

          Also, asking if Judas Maccabeus was also a parallel was a stupid question and I realized it right away, so sorry for being stupid erybody.

  4. Interesting video! I’m reading the whole thing as a battle between virtue and betrayal. Throughout, you see Gaga tempted but publicly rejecting Judas, devoting herself to Jesus with hugely dramatic baptism and prayer (while Judas, um, baptizes her ass with beer). This seems in line with traditional views of Mary Magdalene as a sinner as well as Jesus’ most devoted apostle. Her final action is to be martyred as a bride in pure, virtuous white, personifying the bride of Christ concept, Jesus’s crucifixion bringing salvation for the sins of the world (and for her personal sins), and the early martyrdom of Christians after Jesus’ death. In Gaga’s regal imagery and long hair, I see a bit of references to St. Catherine of Alexandria who is usually portrayed in art as a woman with long blonde hair wearing a crown who marries Jesus. She’s also associated with wheels as a torture instrument (I may be reaching on this last point, but the motorcycles do seem associated.)

    So much Christian imagery. We need to get Sister Wendy up in here! What’s interesting to me is that the video seems to have the opposite meaning as the song – Gaga is tempted by Judas but ultimately finds salvation in Jesus before her martyrdom.

  5. I feel that lady gaga is on this kick about being culturally significant and is alienating her fans in the process. Unless the majority of them just love her period and will follow her blindly no matter how great or how shitty the work is. I personally am on the fence with her right now because i do enjoy the music and her videos but feel that the direction shes headed just came on to quick. Even though it began with the paparazzi video. But i dont think shes purposely trying to be shocking shes an artist and a person and she has every right to do what ever she damn well pleases just like the rest of us. its a natural progression. it cant expect someone to be the the same forever. personal views, taste and fashion sense change all the time but being in the spotlight everything you do gets picked apart. at the end of the day who really gives a fuck and why should it even matter. i commend her for being an equal rights advocate but unfortunately when artist incorperate their political views into their music their careers go down in flames shortly there after. i think the born this way album is going to flop and hopefully she learns from her mistakes. either be a pop princess or be a rebel but again unfortunately you cant have your cake and it too. not that i like that more than anyone else but its just society.

  6. This video is beautiful and as someone who is religious and gay it has a lot of symbolic significance. We are viewed as “sinners” by the “church” yet we are still in love with our “sin.” I love it. I don’t think her having or lacking a college degree is of any significance either…though an attorney myself, I have several friends who are smarter than myself who didn’t get past high school.

  7. So one thing people missed that goes with the Mary Magdalene theme: ALL THE OIL. That at one point she is like literally RUBBING ALL OVER HER BODY (thus distracting my homogay mind). I think at one point Judas pours some on her too. Unless that was beer.

    So this is signficant because I went to sunday school and Mary Magdalene is usually supposed to be the lady who came and sat with Jesus while he was dining with a Pharisee (I think named Simon) and she came in and everyone knew she was a sinner (aka a prostitute, adulterer, or whatever) but she came in and washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and then anointed them with an expensive oil/ointment. And Simon was like “Oh gosh what is this woman doing and where did she get that stuff did she steal it or pay for it with her money she got being a PROSTITUTE?” and then Jesus was like, “Hey. Well she is actually alright because she is repenting for the things she has done AND she is showing me a great symbolic hospitality by giving me the most valuable thing she can.” or something like that.

    So yeah, she she’s rubbing herself with oil and Judas is potentially pouring it on her (and anointing people with oil was like really symbolic in the Bible cause it meant that you were being approved, or chosen as someone special. The prophet Samuel I think anointed David as future king of Israel). Also the bathtub reminded me of the whole feet washing thing (Jesus also washed his disciples’ feet right before or after (can’t remember which it’s late) the Last Supper where Judas betrayed him and it was an important act back then because you know, your feet got all groty without sandals so offering someone some precious water to wash their feet with after traveling was considered how to be a super-hospitable host or so I’ve heard).

    I’m not analyzing any of this because I am tired but yeah. More Bibical parallels, maybe.

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