So Lady Gaga’s halftime show at the Superbowl turned out to be controversial. No surprises there, except for perhaps why. Evidently she took the “world’s biggest stage” and…entertained the audience. Shocking! Scandalous!
I’ve watched the performance, and I watched her press conference beforehand. I’ve read some of the punditry surrounding her performance. Supposedly she was told by the NFL not to get political. (Go figure! Evidently that’s for the players only?) She chose not to, but then how were they going to stop her if she had?
But evidently that wasn’t an issue. She herself stated her show would reflect her objectives all along: diversity and inclusion. And evidently her idea of diversity and inclusion includes football fans who just wanted a good show and Americans tuning in for the big game. Oh, sure, the left are claiming some victory for her careful choice of words and songs, but when she began her performance with part of the Pledge of Allegiance, and emphasizing for all, perhaps she really meant it. Perhaps she’s more clever than the average pop star and, in choosing to entertain first and foremost, drew in more people to listen to her message than if she’d beaten them over the head with it as part of the show.
Or maybe she sees the division in our country and actually feels it’s a bad thing, and decided to do her part to counter that? Maybe she realizes, as she seemed to suggest in her press conference, that it’s not all about her. Considering some of her antics of the past that seems incongruous, but she’s surprised me before.
One of the few ad lib moments of the show was her shout out to her mom and dad. Maybe that’s where she won me over. As a parent, I can only imagine how her parents feel, seeing their daughter giving one of the biggest performances of her career and nailing it. Whether you like her music or not, it was an impressive show. She worked her butt off for it. From what I understand she underwent physical training to be able to do all of that dancing and acrobatics and still sing through it all–for thirteen minutes! The performer in me was impressed. She put it all out there.
Of course not everyone is pleased with her performance. The Washington Post expected her to get political, and ruled that she “whiffed”, and played it safe. Other sites seem to feel she let the left down by refusing to turn her platform into a soap-box. They’ve recently expressed similar displeasure with Taylor Swift for her sideline praise for the recent Women’s March. Many seem to feel that celebrities like Swift and Gaga have an obligation to use their fame politically. (See Why the Left is Going After Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift for more.)
While it’s true that Swift hasn’t exactly been a strong voice for change. She’s on record as claiming ““. . . I don’t talk about politics because it might influence other people. And I don’t think that I know enough yet in life to be telling people who to vote for.” While I think that’s actually a pretty mature attitude, I can see how those who think they own celebrities and are owed a particular level of activism in return (though only if it’s in the “right” direction, of course) might be disappointed with that. These people, to be blunt, are stupid. Celebrities have as much right to live their lives their own way as anyone else, to say what they want, or to keep quiet as they please. They don’t “owe” anyone anything.
But Gaga hasn’t exactly been a shrinking violet socially or politically. I doubt there were many football fans on Sunday who didn’t have at least some idea which side of “the line” she falls on. I can’t help but think that her choice to erase that line for thirteen minutes was a statement in and of itself. She made her point, even if it wasn’t the one some people expected. I’d like to think her point was “Hey guys, cool it. Let’s come together for a few minutes, at least.” I’d like to think it was a message similar to that of The Piano Guys, who defended their performance at the recent inauguration by citing the ability of music to bring people together and build common ground and understanding. Good for Gaga for not taking an opportunity to poke half the country in the eye, but to instead give the entire country a chance to enjoy a common experience.
As for me, I’m still not a fan of Lady Gaga’s music. It’s not bad, but it’s not my style–and that’s okay. But I’m more inclined to listen to what she has to say today than I would have been a year or two ago. And certainly more inclined to listen than I would be to most of the soap-box celebrities out there who miss no opportunity to lecture. Self-restraint is a virtue, not a liability. Would that more people could see that.
Oh, and in case you’re curious:
https://youtu.be/txXwg712zw4 – For some reason it doesn’t embed, but this is the full halftime show.
And this is her press conference. Perhaps the most important thing she says comes at around 16:35, but the entire thing shows a different side of her I hadn’t seen before.