Lady Gaga’s halftime performance at the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 started off with a political message that viewers might have overlooked amidst her dazzling theatrics.
As a backer of Hillary Clinton who has been critical of Donald Trump, she was asked by reporters on Feb. 2 if her show was going to be political, reports Billboard.
“Well, I don’t know if I will succeed in unifying America,” she responded. “You’ll have to ask America when it’s over. But the only statements that I’ll be making during the halftime show are the ones that I’ve been consistently making throughout my career.”
Then she went on to summarize those statements: “I believe in a passion for inclusion. I believe in the spirit of equality, and the spirit of this country as one of love and compassion and kindness. So my performance will have both those philosophies.”
Mark Quenzel, NFL senior VP of programming and production, was asked if the league had any say-so over the performer’s repertoire. “At the end of the day,” he replied, “we leave it to the good judgment of the artist.”
When Lady Gaga finally launched into her show, at first it appeared that she was going to play it safe. She began by singing a few lines from “God Bless America,” the famous patriotic song written by Irving Berlin. But then she quickly transitioned into “This Land Is Your Land,” a patriotic song of a much different type, and which anti-Trump protesters have been singing in the streets for the past few weeks, observes Vanity Fair.
Although the song is familiar to most Americans and is even sung by school children, its origins are lesser known. Written by the left-wing folk singer Woody Guthrie, the song was inspired by his experience as one of the refugees who fled Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s, only to find themselves unwelcome when they arrived in California.
Those who are familiar with the song’s background immediately understood that Lady Gaga was making a statement on Trump’s controversial immigration ban, explains University of Michigan professor Juan Cole on his blog Informed Comment.
And the song’s underlying philosophy is political, too, Cole notes: “That this land is YOUR LAND is nothing new in unequal America where so many aren’t paid a living wage. That this land is MY land is the radical statement.”
Judging from a Twitter message by Hillary Clinton following the performance, she is among those who apparently got the message, notes USA Today. “I’m one of 100 million #SuperBowl fans that just went #Gaga for the Lady, & her message to all of us,” Clinton tweeted. “Incredible performance from my friend @LadyGaga. You amaze me — and not just onstage.”
Sources: Billboard, Vanity Fair, Informed Comment, USA Today / Photo Credit: Marcen27/Wikimedia Commons