Gaga’s half time show delivers more than good reviews

Singer Lady Gaga performs during the halftime show of the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, in Houston. (Matt Slocum/AP)

This past weekend, America’s favorite holiday came and went. That’s right, the Super Bowl is over for the year, and while it may not have been a very exciting game until the end, the rest of the evening held people’s attention for a different reason. Going into Super Bowl LI, people were wondering not just what the outcome of the game would be, but what the tone of the event would be, as game day fell during a time that America was, and continues to be, very conflicted. People were curious as to whether or not our country would be able to come together for our favorite ‘All-American’ pastime. But, as always in America, football comes first. Of course, this did not mean that there were not some political undertones running through the event.

In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, it was obvious that the game would not be free of any politics but it was unclear as to what extent the topic would be involved. It turns out, while football can bring people together for a few hours, it still can’t force the outside world to stay outside. This was due to a multitude of factors, including the advertisements, who attended the game and, above all, the half time show. While none of these things are overly controversial on their own, when taken as a whole they ended up making this game not only the most shocking Superbowl in history, but also the most political.  

Other than the miraculous comeback made by the Patriots last night, by far the most headline-worthy event that came out of Super Bowl LI was Lady Gaga’s performance at the half time show. Gaga’s performance came as a shock to most people, not only because it was so well done or the number of drones involved, but also because of how mellow it was compared to the activism they expected. However, what most people seem to be overlooking is how politically-fueled it was underneath the surface.

While some seem to think that Gaga left the halftime show without making any political statement, many are claiming that her show actually started off in protest and never stopped once it got going. Her show began with a rendition of “This Land is Your Land”, a classic anthem by Woody Guthrie, which apparently is “inherently activistic. While Gaga only sang a short snippet from the song, people seem to be speculating more about the lines that she did not sing, rather than those she did. The verses that Gaga sang during her performance were the common ones, the ones everyone learns without realizing that there are more; but what she left out were verses that allude to pro-immigration ideals. While few people knew these verses before Gaga’s performance, many viewers had speculated that the singer would add a political twist to her performance, causing them to discover the additional meaning hidden in the song.

Gaga’s hidden political statement didn’t just stop after the kickoff of her show, her message was carried throughout the rest of the performance through her song choice and visual displays. As Lady Gaga is a known advocate for being true to yourself, it is no surprise that her most popular songs also spout these messages. Her 2011 hit, “Born This Way,” is no exception, and Gaga spent a good portion of her performance on this song. She especially made sure to highlight a specific verse from the end of the song that states, “no matter gay, straight, or bi, Lesbian transgendered life/I’m on the right track baby/I was born to survive,” a particularly pointed move considering Vice President Mike Pence was in the audience at the game.

Though her performance at the Super Bowl on Sunday may not have been an overwhelmingly political performance as some had hoped, the show was powerful and moving while still being entertaining to people from all political parties. If there was ever a way to be progressive and advocate for your beliefs all while maintaining poise and grace, Lady Gaga has just set an example by doing so, and on one of the biggest stages in the world. Stay classy, Gaga.


Emma Hungaski is an opinion contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at emma.hungaski@uconn.edu.