Did you catch the not-so-hidden powerful political message in Lady Gaga's Superbowl performance?Binjal Shah
If ever there was someone who could steal the Superbowl's thunder, it is Lady Gaga, who was invited to perform during the halftime of arguably USA's most anticipated sporting event.
This mega gala took place just days after the great American dream took a shocking detour with the election and induction of President Donald Trump who already instated a slew of regressive policies. So, Gaga, pop sensation and also one of the most prominent and fearless faces of the LGBTQ community in America, made sure her performance reinstates her stance in these restrictive circumstances.
There was widespread conjecture about whether Lady Gaga would deliver a politically charged performance at a time when America needs to hear the message shouted off rooftops – so, she did just that, literally, by simply, being herself and singing her most iconic numbers. This performance, that contained her usual avante garde flamboyance and showmanship, went a lot deeper.
With lights carried by drones forming a glowing American flag in the night sky behind her, she emerged singing "God Bless America" which was written by Irving Berlin, a Russian immigrant, and mashed up “This Land Is Your Land,” with it, only to stress upon the lyrics, “This land was made for you and me.” She then proceeded to recite part of the American Pledge of Allegiance, specifically the verse that goes "one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all" as a sign of resistance to Trump's divisive policies.
She then descended upon the crowd and chose to unleash the most powerful and currently relevant verses of her songs. With more than 100 million US viewers tuned in, it was no surprise that Gaga chose to sing "Born This Way" – which when it was first released, became a sort of anthem demanding acceptance and respect for people of varied colour, gender and sexuality, and in turn, urging them to be themselves unabashedly. But the verse she picked to insert in her 13-minute set was the most powerful, and still painfully relevant almost six years after this song was first composed.
Don't be a drag, just be a queen
Whether you're broke or evergreen
You're black, white, beige, chola descent
You're Lebanese, you're orient
Whether life's disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
'cause baby you were born this way
No matter gay, straight, or bi,
Lesbian, transgendered life,
I'm on the right track baby,
I was born to survive.
No matter black, white or beige
Chola or orient made,
I'm on the right track baby,
I was born to be brave.
At a time when the discourse around inclusivity is finding more and more takers and seeping into more and more household conversations, the crowd, most of whom would invariably be part of the movement through protests and resistance, unsurprisingly broke into hysterics. Celebrities came out in support too:
Some of the other songs she enthralled the crowd with were her classics Poker Face and Bad Romance, and some from her newer albums, "Telephone," "Just Dance," and the newest, "Million Reasons.”
Her performance ended with her doing the micdrop, catching a football and jumping off a set of stairs onto the field.
Another performance at the Superbowl was even more outwardly politically charged than Gaga's; part of the opening act, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Phillipa Soo, and Jasmine Cephas Jones, the Schuyler sisters on hit Broadway musical "Hamilton," sang "America the Beautiful,” except, the swapped the word “brotherhood” from the line, “And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea," with the word "sisterhood," in an effort to foster gender inclusivity in literature – and this feat quickly went viral on social media and earned them widespread praise for capitalizing on the platform and the opportunity to say precisely what needed to be said.