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LADY GAGA WAS THERE FOR A GOOD TIME NOT A DEEP TIME AT THE SUPERBOWL HALF TIME


There was no literal meat – the chop-covered dress of yore was not going to be part of the Lady Gaga outfits for her performance at the Super Bowl half time show.

But was there metaphorical meat – some sense that this show was not pretending to exist in the world as we once knew it but this new orange-hued one?

It’s true, the half time show is about the spectacle, the music, the star power and the ability to keep people at the screen to see the high cost commercials shown either side of it.

It’s not a political rally, despite Beyonce’s powerful statement of the rights of the oppressed last year in her performance of Formation.

But when Lady Gaga’s core group of fans are self-identified and eulogised by her as her Little Monsters - the marginalised and ostracised, the people of colour and other orientation – plus she is the descendent of an immigrant family who know what corporate fascism is all about, and a man seemingly in conflict with all of them was inaugurated two weeks ago, can she really put on a show without acknowledging that?

Yes. And sort of no.

Gaga began the 12 minute segment from atop the stadium quoting from God Bless America, Irving Berlin’s simplistic patriotic moment of “land that I love, stand beside her and guide her through the night with the light from above”.

But she also brought in lines from Woody Guthrie’s more defiant song of resistance This Land Is Your Land, with its reminder to the excluded that “this land was made for you and me”.

Once Gaga in a harness dropped from the sky to the ground, initially on what might be a chrome-gloss version of a Mad Max landscape, and thereafter in a series of brightly designed, dance-focused, massed movement sets, the message was at best in the medium.

As she danced, changed outfits, played keytar and climbed – without losing breath or her place – Gaga left what commentary could be discerned to the text, of her songs, and the subtext, of her presence.

As she had told the New York Times prior to the show, what comments she would make would be those she’s always made in her songs “I believe in a passion for inclusion. I believe in the spirit of equality, and that the spirit of this country is one of love and compassion and kindness.”

So there were “there’s nothing wrong with loving who you are” and “don’t be a drag, be a queen” in the unofficial LGBTI anthem Born This Way. There was the more oblique, or arguable, throw to a certain president in “”you’re giving me a million reasons to let you go… but baby I just need one good one to stay”, from Million Reasons.

And maybe more credibly if still tenuously, there was the suggestion the 46 per cent who voted for Donald Trump may be caught in a Bad Romance: “I want your ugly, I want your disease/I want your everything as long as it’s free”.

Not much meat though was it? Though the silver wrapping of the spectacle was shiny.

But before anyone complains, it’s worth remembering that Beyoncé was not last year’s headliner, but rather a guest of the hardly apolitical but also hardly strident Coldplay.

#LadyGaga

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