Judas and Jesus in Lady Gaga’s Marketing Strategy

Gaga Magdalene and Rebel-without-an-orthodox-cause Jesus - Ka-ching!
Gaga Magdalene and Rebel-without-an-orthodox-cause Jesus - Ka-ching!

Biblical imagery makes for good business. For example, take the deadly dull single, “Judas” by Lady Gaga. In order to transform a tune which possesses as much excitement as a glass of lukewarm parsnip juice into a marketable commodity, the music industry needed to employ one of the standard forms in which religion is marketed today, even better, a combination of them.  You can find these on any shelf of the mind-body-spirit section of your local bookstore. The first is the “sympathy for the devil” strategy. In this case, Judas, the Devil’s agent in Christian orthodoxy, is redeemed, recuperated, shown to have “a good side”. Sexualities and moralities suppressed for centuries by the Church, not to mention a variety of styles for fake fingernails, now become viable niche markets for the peddling of trite pop singles.  It’s a move as boring as it is commercially successful. Combine this with the second most successful strategy for the marketing of “spirituality” (never “religion”, although the distinction is in fact meaningless): Jesus is a marketable quality so long as he is anything but the Jesus of orthodoxy. And so sales are booming for Jesus the rebel, Jesus the Jew (not Christian), Jesus the Cynic Philosopher with a million short and seemingly profound but mostly nonsensical aphorisms – and, in Lady Gaga’s “twist”, Jesus the rebel motorcycle gang leader. (And the scare-quotes around “twist” are, of course, there because today the Jesus-as-motorcycle-rebel is so embarassingly yawn-inducing. “Twist” would at least imply some element of originality, and there is absolutely none evident in Lady Gaga’s Judas). Finally, and for obvious reasons, add some sex with Mary Magdalene. Publicize the product as “controversial” – a deeply cynical marketing move, given the fact that you can find a hundred versions of this safely “edgy”, Romantic Jesus in pop music and pop literature today. The only thing possibly “controversial” about Lady Gaga’s Judas is her assumption that anybody could possibly find this hackneyed marketing ploy in any way “controversial”.

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