Cultural impact of Jesus Christ Superstar musical

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Introduction

Jesus Christ Superstar musical was produced in 1970 as rock opera with the music being done by Andrew Lloyd Webber while Tim Rice did the lyrics. The musical first made its debut in the year 1971 after it had been in existence as a rock opera concept album. The musical adopted a way of singing without any dialogue. The entire story in the musical rotates around Jesus Christ during his last days before being crucified. Judas Iscariot is also another notable figure in the musical as he plays the role of identifying Jesus for the soldiers to arrest (Goodacre 25). Not only that Judas betrayed Jesus Christ, he was all the way opposing Him. The musical starts with Judas Iscariot having issues with Jesus Christ over his actions. Part two of the musical talks of the last supper whereby Jesus Christ invited the disciples to share with him for the last time. Part two presents Jesus Christ being arrest and taken in a process of judgment as required by the law. From the musical, several themes can be identified which have had an impact to the culture. Themes of celebrity, betrayal and sacrifice are all clear in Webbers piece of work. Presenting Jesus as hero and a celebrity, He was faced by many challenges in his ministry from the beginning.  The events in the musical have impacted the society as different lessons are learned from the piece of work.

Playwrights

The musical is a product of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The music was done by Andrew Webber while Tim Rice did the lyrics. Webber is an English impresario of music theatre and a composer born in 1948 (Thornton 160). Prior to Jesus Christ Superstar, Webber had already done other musicals. On the other hand, Tim Rice is an English author known for being one of the best lyric writers in the country. Both combined to come up with Jesus Christ Superstar which had a positive response from the masses.

Impact of Jesus Christ Superstar musical

Through its themes as extended mainly by Jesus Christ and Judas Iscariot, the musical had influenced different cultures both positively and negatively. The main theme in the musical is celebrity as witnessed with Jesus Christ. Jesus had pulled a large crowd of people who kept following Him everywhere sparking fear among the roman rulers. People have been in a position to learn the effects which can be brought by celebrity (Webber 21). When an individual becomes a celebrity, it’s easy to clash with the authorities. This has affected the people negatively as most of them find themselves hating being celebrities. People do believe that Jesus was opposed by the authorities because of his celebrity status. People will find themselves loving the superstar tag as it was attached to Jesus Christ in the musical. Jesus was in a position to know that one of his disciples will betray him and the other one will deny him publicly and finally they came to happen.  Judas clearly understood the consequences of commanding such a big crowd of people and using the name King. He knew very well that it can cause violence or even death to Jesus Christ and the followers including other innocent Jews. From the musical, people learn that popularity comes with a lot of consequences. Commanding and controlling a lot people draws enmity with the leaders as they would like to remain in power without any threats. To them, a celebrity is a threat to their leadership.

The musical teaches people on how to choose battles. People don’t have to respond to each and every argument as portrayed by Jesus Christ. As in Deuteronomy 20:4, God is the one who fights for us and therefore no need to worry. The musical also teaches us that it’s okay if an individual cries his hear out as the outcome is joy. From Psalms 126:5, “Those who sow tears will reap joy” (Webber 23). This is shown in the act of Jesus crying to God to be with him through the whole ordeal. The impact is only to Christian societies as they are all connected with one religion. The way people will act when confronted by discouraging situations has been influenced by the actions of Jesus Christ when faced by a potential crucification. It has helped growing children develop self confident to approach situations without fear. Jesus had surrendered to follow the plans of God. This has influenced the society positively and spiritually.

From the musical, people learn about betrayal and what constitutes it as well as how to avoid. The theme of betrayal is also presented in the musical through Judas Iscariot. Being a close friend to Jesus Christ, he later turned to be a traitor and betrayed Him. Judas was one of the twelve disciples and a friend to Jesus despite the few disagreements but later becomes an enemy. No one would have thought one of the twelve disciples will either sell Him to the soldiers or deny him the way peter did. This has influenced the society positively as people learn from it not to trust anyone even close friends. After Jesus is arrested, Judas feels guilty and commits suicide after he discovers that he will have to live in denial the rest of his life. It shows people that actions have consequences and that every person has the mandate of watching his actions. As a result, people have become very keen their actions. It teaches people that they shouldn’t hang around with people who are against you in terms of ideas. People should instead seek those people whom they share opinions with. As in Proverbs 13-20, “he who walks with the wise is wise” (Webber 12) Jesus should have stayed away from Judas Iscariot after they had conflict of ideas. People do learn that such people add no value to the lives of individual but they can cause a lot of damage. This is showed by the actions of Mary Magdalene and Judas. The two are in two different sides in terms of their affection to Jesus. Judas betrays Jesus but Magdalene sticks with Jesus Christ regardless of the situation.

People also learn about sacrifice from various characters in the plot. From Jesus who is the main character, people learn that sacrifice is important especially if it’s for the benefit of the needy. Jesus chooses not to act but instead sacrifice for the people. Although He was in a position to perform miracles and escape from the soldiers, he chooses not to do so (Goodacre 12). All was about sacrifice and save the other people in the world.  The actions of Mary Magdalene also reveal sacrifice. In the first instance, she anoints Jesus with expensive oil. It’s an act of sacrifice for the other person. Magdalene goes on to accompany Jesus from one place to the other which is also a form of sacrifice. The musical also teaches people how to appreciate others. According to Judas, Mary Magdalene was a prostitute who didn’t deserve to be with Jesus Christ. Contrary, Jesus allows her to anoint Him with expensive oil. He accommodates everyone regardless of an individual’s past.

Unlike the positive impact brought by the musical, it also influences the society negatively. It prints a negative image of the leadership of the time. It brings out a picture of a leadership that is all about power regardless the cost. Crucifying Jesus is an indication of fear for their leadership. This in turn makes people look at their leaders negatively (Goodacre 13). People will tend to generalize everything and assume that all the leaders are the same. People will look at their leaders in the society as people who are only interested with power but not the people. People will think that their leaders will do away with anything threatening their leadership.

Conclusion

Jesus Christ Superstar musical has influenced the society both positively and negatively. The piece of work rotates around the life of Jesus Christ before being crucified. Through the various themes in the musical, people have been in a position to learn from it. Events happening in the piece of work clearly show that celebrity comes with a cost (Goodacre 32).