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Posts Tagged ‘Born this Way

Super Bowl Halftime and Lady Gaga’s Subtle but Powerful Protest

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By now, you’ve probably seen Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime show (if not, it’s above). It was pretty epic. However, many people were expecting her to be more political. And I think that she was in her own subtle yet powerful way.

 

I think that rhetorically, Lady Gaga’s halftime performance is interesting. A lot of people went in expecting her to be overtly political and to use her platform to address Trump’s politics and policies. However, I think that she does that here and in a way that puts the ideas of oneness, American for all, and acceptance into the minds of those watching. This is interesting because it makes me wonder how many more her subtle message connected with.

Starting with “God Bless America,” “This Land is Your Land,” and a line from the Pledge of Allegiance, she set up that this was a performance that was about America. Then, she moved into a line “I’m on the edge” from “Edge of Glory.” This makes me wonder if this was a move to set up her precarious position as an entertainer and the line that she’s walking here with her politics, which helps make sense of “Poker Face” coming next. As she puts on a show that people didn’t expect, she has to keep up a face that you “can’t read.”

The next song is the most overt as she sings “Born this Way.” The song proclaims:

“There’s nothing wrong with loving who you are”
She said, “‘Cause he made you perfect, babe”
“So hold your head up girl and you’ll go far,
Listen to me when I say.”

And she moves into the bridge which is the most overtly political and biting of Trump’s administration (with Pence in the audience no less):

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.

This speaks to the spirit of those who are fighting the injustice that is present all around us. Fighting the bans, fighting the infringing of rights.

Her next two songs are party anthems “Telephone” and “Just Dance”, which might feel oddly placed; however, they work perfectly to amp up the crowd and subtly to pull away from the overt politicism of the last song. Yet it could also be said these songs are to remind that even in the midst of these hard times one needs to “just dance” not to be consumed as “It’ll be okay.” Moreover, with these being dance music, again, we have the spirit of LGBTQ being brought forward as dance music and congregation takes place in LGBTQ bars all over the nation.

Finally, Gaga segues into her final songs: “Million Reasons” and “Bad Romance.” Even before she begins the song, Gaga says, “How are you doing Texas? America? World? How you doing tonight? We’re here to make you feel good. You wanna feel good with us?” This statement and the first line of the song “Million Reasons” brings us back to our theme of America (and arguable the world):

You’re giving me a million reasons to let you go
You’re giving me a million reasons to quit the show
You’re givin’ me a million reasons
Give me a million reasons
Givin’ me a million reasons
About a million reasons

Here, we are faced with the idea that even in the midst of the turmoil and the “million reasons to let. . .go” that we “just need one good one to stay” whatever that may be. As the beat picks up and we go into “Bad Romance,” we are ultimately reminded of (hopefully) the temporal nature of our current affairs as we are “caught in a bad romance” and will ultimately find ourselves out of it.

If you team this with the visual rhetoric (of which there is so much Gaga’s ultra-fashion pants suit, the diversity of the dancers moving freely around the stage, the reminiscence of the lights the crowd carries to those of protests and mourning ceremonies), I think that Lady Gaga does protest in her own way. She brings attention to certain issues and shows us the indefatigable nature of the human spirit even in the face of uncertainty. And although she yells “Super Bowl 51” at the end, she literally drops the mic before diving into the crowd.

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