Mother Monster’s Subtle Protest
It was totally political, and you know it
In the midst of the most-talked about sports events of the year, pop icon Lady Gaga shocked the world by not only performing a medley of just some of her biggest hits, but by paying respect to the country that made her who she is today at the Super Bowl LI halftime show. Gaga, in a custom Atelier Versace outfit, did the impossible and gave a highly political, yet subtle, performance, that was inclusive rather than divisive.
After there being speculation about the National Football League barring the superstar from including politics or talk about Donald Trump into her performance, in a statement, they said it was “unsourced nonsense from people trying to stir up controversy where there is none.”
After a compilation of extremely nationalistic songs, such as Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”, melded with Woody Guthrie’s anti-fascist “This Land is Your Land”, and ending with “The Pledge of Allegiance,” Gaga’s drones created a backdrop of the American flag as she plunged herself down to the Super Bowl stage.
After a quick nod to her song “Edge of Glory,” she continued on to perform her international smash hit, “Poker Face,” which subtly references her bisexuality, while simultaneously suspended with wires. Talk about badass.
But dazzlement and set-list aside, equal rights activist Lady Gaga sent out an important and subliminal message of unification and national pride through her choice to perform her six-week long, record breaking number one hit: “Born This Way.”
Her choice to sing “Born This Way,” served as a way to channel support for everyone regardless of race, appearance, and sexual orientation. The song, which is at the time was a revolutionary anthem for individuality, was the first #1 song to reference LGBTQ issues, such as transgender rights. Gaga was also the first Super Bowl halftime show performer to say the word, “transgender,” in a performance.
I’m beautiful in my way
’Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way
Don’t hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way
In an event fueled by testosterone and hyper-masculinity, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta utilized a once in a lifetime opportunity to perform a career retrospective. She included diversified performers as a statement to support issues regarding the non-acceptance of people dubbed “outside of the norm.”
By incorporating a collection of dancers from various races and appearances in her performance, Gaga relays the message of acceptance and inclusion in a way that was easily transmitted and not “in your face.”
Her Born This Way Foundation, namesake inspired by the song, was founded in late-2011 as a non-profit organization aimed at the upbringing of self-confidence, anti-bullying, and career building in youth. Proclaiming self-love and acceptance in the lyrics, the song quickly became a symbolic mantra of the LGBTQ community.
Channeling her art into activism, she called for “good times” while addressing Texas and the U.S. before performing “Million Reasons” from her new album, “Joanne.” Many of her social media followers believe that by singling out a woman of color in the crowd while singing the lyric “why don’t you stay, stay” was a way to further support fair immigration treatment.
The lucky Little Monster was 16-year-old Ally Bellini. She said, “I had no idea that was going to happen. It was an amazing surprise to me. We knew she was going to go around and high five people but I never expected her to hug me. It was… amazing.”
Gaga ended her performance with an epic mic drop and football catch. Wigs were flying, ladies and gentleman. However, the controversy dealt with whether Gaga’s performance was too political, or not political enough.
If you’ve been following her on social media, you’ve seen how she isn’t afraid to speak out. The Vice President of our country, who is openly homophobic, was in the audience when she sang the lyrics: “No matter gay, straight, or bi/ Lesbian, transgendered life/ I’m on the right track baby/I was born to survive.” She didn’t have to single anyone out, or call them by their name, she let her music and her performance do it for her.
Gaga killed it. Whether you decide to look at it with a political stance, or just as an entertainment performance, she gave us a spectacular 13-minutes. She also snagged the spot of second-most watched Super Bowl halftime show, right behind Katy Perry.
She even got a shoutout from her #1 girl, Hillary Clinton.
Lady Gaga’s message to her fans has always been one of love, and her performance proves that actions speak louder than words. Despite the location of the performance and the event, Gaga stands up in a subtle way to remind everyone watching: This is a time for peace and unity, love one another despite race, religion, sexuality, and beliefs.