Monday, May 9, 2011
As I sat on hold waiting to talk with the second of what would be three separate Verizon representatives yesterday, I tabbed away from the Verizon site and began noodling distractedly though the entrails of omnipresent online pop culture. I do this now and again, typically for the purposes of finding stuff that will make me seem hipper and more relevant when I preach. My hop-paunch and wrinkles don't help that cause much, but so long as I wear a dark shirt, keep the sanctuary lights dim, and stand a good distance from the congregation, it almost works.
Anyhoo, as I puttered around in the godforsaken wasteland of some ADD entertainment industry web-hole, I encountered the latest video from Lady Gaga. Or rather, I assume it was the latest video. I'm too ignorant of pop culture to know better.
The song title was "Judas."
Oooh! Relevant, thought I, as my sermon-anecdote sensors indicated a high level of pop-culture reference potential.
And then I listened to it. And watched it. Ack. Ack. There's a reason I stay away from contemporary music.
Lady Gaga truly baffles me. On the one hand, she's supposed to be "edgy." "Crazy." "Interesting." And on some levels, most of them having to do with costumery and carnality, she is.
On the other, her music is really surprisingly processed. It's corporate-synth-pop, pre-masticated and lovingly disgorged into the gaping mouths of the more undiscerning LGBT-friendly lumpenbourgeoisie.
Even though it was provocatively released around Easter, "Judas," which I suppose was supposed to stir some sort of outrage, seems to have utterly failed to tap the usually Marathon-Man-Dental-Hygiene nerve of reactive conservative Christianity.
There was no buzz around this...thing. None.
And oh, Lord have mercy, did they try. Watch it, if you have not. The images in the vid are a peculiar mashup of Gospel references, urban-biker-chic and Gay Men's Chorus Dance Party. Ms. Gaga herself appears to be playing a Mary Magdalene-esque role. Jesus is played by a fey Dennis Rodman clone. Judas, well, he's the only one who actually kinda looks like a real biker, a good ol' boy honkey meat-sack.
The narrative line of the video is purty straightforward. The Gay Men's Chorus Disciples ride motorcycles. They dance. Gay-Rodman-Jesus looks wistful. She changes outfits. Biker Judas gets into a fight. They dance some more, with backup dancers doing their follow-the-semicompetent-leader thing. She changes outfits again. Things get moody. She changes outfits. She sits in a hot tub with Gay-Rodman-Jesus and Biker-Judas. And gets things moodier, and then she changes outfits, and then dies-or-something in a very emo way.
It's all crosses and Jesus and bustiers, enough to give me flashbacks to Madonna back when she and I were young.
Listening to the lyrics, I discovered why this wasn't actually offensive. A bit dull? Sure. But offensive? No, not really.
The song, what little there is of it, regretfully describes how much Ms. Gaga loves her Judas...meaning the part of her that defies her better self. She struggles with it. She dances around. Then she struggles with it some more. It's...not offensive, any more than simul justus et peccator is offensive. It's theologically innocuous.
I found myself wondering if perhaps Miz Thang might want to try something really outrageous next time out. Like sitting on a stool, in a baggy t-shirt and sweatpants, no makeup, and singing an old gospel tune with only an acoustic guitar backing her.
Now THAT might confuse people. Get people talking.