In the weeks leading up to Lady Gaga’s Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show performance, everyone was wondering if politics would come into play. This is Lady Gaga, after all, and she’s no stranger to standing up for the oppressed and taking a stance. While she didn’t mention President Trump once or make a direct comment on the current state of politics in the country, and, while in the wake of her performance, many news outlets are reporting that she kept politics out of the show, politics were written all over the subtle undertones. She didn’t outright speak against Trump in some long-winded speech, but she used her music to make a political statement and take a stance.
The halftime show began atop Houston’s NRG Stadium, Gaga performing acoustic versions of “God Bless America” and “This Land Is Your Land” before reciting the last lines of the Pledge of Allegiance and taking a plunge into the abyss. At first glance, the opening segment doesn’t seem all that political, but look a little more closely and the message is striking. The performance of “God Bless America” followed directly by “This Land Is Your Land” in and of itself is a political statement that dates back to the song’s origins.
“This Land Is Your Land” was written by Woody Guthrie in 1940 in response to “God Bless America.” It’s a critical response to Irving Berlin’s song and questions whether or not this land was truly made for you and me. It calls into question the stark contrasts between rich and poor, those who are included and those who face discrimination. It calls into question equality in the United States, something that is relevant in this time and day.
Perhaps the boldest statement she made was her performance of her chart-topping single “Born This Way,” which is an anthem of inclusiveness and diversity and was performed in front of an audience that included Vice President Mike Pence, who is known for his opposition to same-sex marriage and support of conversion therapy. Just listen to the lyrics, and it’s hard not to believe that Lady Gaga chose this song in direct reference to the political turmoil our country has been in. "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.”
It didn't take long for fans on Twitter to react to the performance.
Somewhere in Oklahoma an 8 year-old queer kid felt SEEN during that halftime show and that's political enough for me. ???️????️?— Chris Schleicher (@cschleichsrun) February 6, 2017
It was SO important that @ladygaga sang 'Born This Way' tonight at the bowl with all the negativity going on lately in the world, so proud ?— caeyoncé ? (@caelalogan) February 6, 2017
actual goddess bringing together all of america to celebrate being one nation under god, pop music, & aerial acrobatics #PepsiHalftime— Tyler Oakley (@tyleroakley) February 6, 2017
Her message was simple. It wasn’t bold. It wasn’t scripted in a speech or waving on a flag for the entire country to see. It wasn’t directly to Trump or any one person in particular but, rather, to America as a whole. Inclusivity not exclusivity. Embrace diversity. Love one another -- all of which are messages that Lady Gaga has been sending since she first graced our radios.