So it’s settled. I love Judas.

18Jul13

“You best shut the hell up!” roared my zombie-killing hero in episode five of the second season of The Walking Dead. I roar the same line to anyone who ridicules my infatuation with the magnificent Norman Reedus- Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead, Murphy McManus in The Boondock Saints, Harry Odum in Six Ways to Sunday. He is my celebrity crush. My favorite television star. My fantasy apocalypse hero who would be choice savior in the case of a zombie outbreak.

A school girl crush hit me in those days when I first started watching the Walking Dead series. It continued to flower as I hunted for more information on Reedus online. I sifted through interviews, watched movies he starred in, and followed him on Instagram and Twitter. He is a talented, accomplished man worthy of my admiration. Squinty-eyed and vicious-looking as he is, I feel like there is some kind of vulnerability and simple sincerity in him. That side of him, to my pleasure, is demonstrated by his character in The Walking Dead.

During my travels through the world wide web in search of all that is Norman Reedus, I stumbled upon Lady Gaga’s music video for Judas. The video, a visual celebration of blasphemy, leather, and the pop, lock, and thrust of Gaga’s dance moves, moved me to a contemplative inner discussion. I was bothered. Gaga was straddling Jesus’ motorcycle while making eyes at Judas and singing love to the traitor while he poured a beer on her behind. I was bothered, yet drawn. Fascination fluctuated with horror. I continued to watch the video. Once. Twice. Several times.

Lady Gaga, although reportedly a fan of Jesus, does not have many fans among Christians today. She is bisexual. She supports gay marriage. She displays sexuality in excess for performances and videos. “Lady Gaga’s music is sent to us from the Devil to make homosexuality and demon worship acceptable to the younger generation,” says nowtheendbegins.com.” Lady Gaga is a minister of Satan,” says holybibleprophecy.org.

In the video for Judas, Gaga plays Mary Magdalene caught in a love triangle between Jesus Christ and Judas Iscariot. Reedus plays Judas. He is one of the twelve rusty-looking “apostles” of Gaga’s leather-clad, harley-riding entourage. The motley crew journeys to an old chapel where dancers in hobo/hipster/biker attire join them. The dancers are the crowd Jesus extends a holy hand over to quell.

The crowd jeers at what my own heart initially scorned upon watching the video: Gaga’s infidelity with Judas.

Knowing how bizarre she always is, one should expect Gaga to rouse controversy like this. She loves Jesus, goes the story, but Judas is on the side and they share a passionate love/hate relationship. She’ll push him down the stairs, but a moment later they’ll share sensual eye contact that tells of deep feelings too loud to put into words. I would understand a girl in Gaga’s position; she reciprocates the love of the honorable white knight who is nothing but good for her, but out of her comfort zone stalks a seductive dark knight with secrets and skills and flaws that she can’t help but wonder about.

Christians would abhor the thought of loving Judas, the backstabbing bastard he is. He betrayed our Jesus, sold him, killed him. But I can’t hate Judas. It’s not just because Norman Reedus’s face portrayed him in the video. It’s because Jesus loved Judas. And I believe he continued to love him even as he was crucified.

Daryl Dixon

Daryl Dixon is a tough guy with a heart in AMC’s The Walking Dead. He says things like, “I ain’t nobody’s bitch,” and, “Shoot me again? You best pray I’m dead.” But he cares for the people in his group and will go out of his way to save lost little girls and damsels in distress. He lifted his eyes to a crucifix in episode one of season two and asked, “Yo, J.C., you taking any requests?” after a battle with some zombies. What’s not to love? The thing about Norman Reedus is no matter who he plays in whatever show or movie, there is almost always a little bit of a reoccurring identity in each portrayal. Despite a hard exterior, he has a soft humanity. Daryl Dixon is a brute redneck with boundless compassion and concern for others. Murphy McManus is a murderer who goes to church and champions justice. Judas Iscariot is a dirty traitor who out of remorse and a morbid kind of penance kills himself after betraying Jesus.

I see a soft humanity in Judas because I see past his sin against Christ and look at what he did at the end of his life. He must have loved Jesus to feel such regret for selling him out. He must have realized what crime he committed in sending an innocent lamb to slaughter. To doom something so perfect and undeserving may have seemed doable and even enjoyable in the moment of the act, but in hindsight it looked downright disgusting. He committed the most infamous crime in history, Judas did. And yet he did nothing more than demonstrate something all humans do- sin. He then demonstrated something only the more righteous of all humans do- repentance.

Lady Gaga

So it’s settled. I love Judas. But I don’t sing,

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

However like Gaga, or Mary, I occasionally find myself torn between Judas and Jesus, struggling between dark and light, human and godly. Jesus is always there, loyal as a cocker spaniel. But knowing I will always have J.C. to fall back on sometimes enables me to eye Judas and wonder what’s on the dark side. It’s a struggle we all must know because whether you’re Lady Gaga, Norman Reedus, Judas Iscariot, or Michelle Mendoza, no one is perfect. The only perfection we can count on is God’s love for all of us despite our sins.

Laurieann Gibson, director of the music video, said to MTV,

“I can’t speak for Gaga, but as a director, a choreographer, as a believer, I say, ‘Take a look at yourself.’ For me, I would never [defame] my savior and the love and the non-judgment of what Jesus means to me. So I say, ‘Take a closer look at why you’re judging’… be inspired by the fact that everyone has a Judas in their life and there is a place of deliverance.”

At the end of the music video Mary-Gaga, clothed in white, is stoned to death. Whether or not she went to heaven post mortem is something I’ll never know, but I believe I know where I’m going, and if I happen to see Judas there, we’ll have an interesting little music video to talk about.

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