EDITOR’S NOTE: (Hello, Crimson Media world. While the blog/radio show is mostly dedicated to featuring local and independent artists, we also are dedicating the blog to cultural commentary, humor, and mischief. Thanks for playing along!)
There are many, many things that can be said about the cultural influence of Lady Gaga, the new age pop diva with the voice of Madonna and the sound of… well, Madonna. And the stage presence and driving message of Madonna. Look, the point here isn’t to compare her to anyone else, no matter how obvious and blatant the resemblance. She played the most recent Super Bowl, and the fact that she is a star is indisputable.
Yet, for whatever preconceived notions you may have of her, there is one arena in which she did shine: her ability to break from the celebrity pack and not use this moment to preach.
You may have noticed a recent trend in media recent: no matter what the format, you are constantly being preached at. This isn’t a moral argument for or against any political position: this is an argument about the fact that everything has become political now. You can’t exist without being lumped into a group of identity politics. You can’t watch a game without the sports newscasters commenting on which players might sit out the National Anthem, and what the deeper impacts of that are in a divided America. You can’t even read reviews for the newest Grand Theft Auto game without the editors accusing the game of ‘profound misogyny.’ For a game in which you can run over people for fun and mug old ladies for their purses, this is a very weird and specific criticism.
In case you had forgotten, or are one of those who would rather not remember, we had an election. In a post-Trump world, people are obviously divided on a number of issues. We all flock to Twitter to call people names about these issues daily, and it is part of living in a democratic society: engaging with the opposition, even if the words minced are not always nice. The fact that there is a deep, profound discussion to be had about a number of issues is obvious.
What has also become obvious, however, is that the appropriate forum for this discussion is not every event that gives you a microphone. Without naming anyone, we all know a recurring trend that has come up time and again: a mainstream star uses one of their public moments to tell you how they feel about the current administration, or legislation pending, or whatever political issue is currently facing the country. As is their right. But it’s also our right to admit that maybe some of us are thoroughly bored at the grandstanding and posturing. It seems to imply we only watch football, MMA, and some of us vote differently because that person wasn’t there to stop us from ourselves. Okay, now this is becoming a bit too specific (and meta), but you should get the drift by now.
Now back to Gaga (finally.) It’s fairly obvious that Gaga has been a political person: she stumped the trail with Hillary Clinton (arguably, in Third Reich garb), she sang songs, gave speeches, and cried the night of Hillary’s defeat. There are plenty of issues to take with the condescending implications of a star using her power to influence the lesser mortals. However, it was her right to use her voice to support what she found important. The argument that celebrities can use their star to bring light to important issues, as annoying and preachy as it has become, is valid and should be respected.
The Super Bowl, the one uniting force behind the US of A, is a prime example of putting differences aside and rooting for your team. In a time of such divide, when everyone can’t help but jump up and down and announce their opinion for the world to hear, we saw an amazing display from Gaga instead: she simply sang “God Bless America” and “This Land is Your Land.” No preachy speeches, no obvious symbolism that demeaned anyone, no name calling. No confusing ads depicting struggling immigrants whose journey is stopped by a wall, which by the way was apparently pushed from a Trump supporting, wall supporting CEO (wrap your head around that one.)
In today’s world, where everyone wants to speak all the time, a moment of restraint counts for an awful lot. She may not have converted everyone, nor should she (we can’t let her off the hook for getting all those “Ra ah ah’s” that will forever be stuck in our heads.) In a moment where she had the microphone and could have been divisive, she chose to unite. Regardless of opinions towards her as an artist, it can no doubt be agreed: she was able to provide unity through restraint. In this forum, that was the winning answer.