During Super Bowl 51, Lady Gaga performed during the half-time show. Almost immediately after her performance, conservatives praised Gaga for a nonpolitical, unifying show. In the process, they criticized Beyoncé’s Super Bowl 50 halftime performance for being divisive.
I did not watch the Super Bowl. But after seeing the viral GIF of Gaga nonchalantly jumping from the roof and watching Tomi Lahren’s ridiculous “Final Thoughts” segment, I had to check if her performance was worth the hype.
After 13 minutes of reliving my middle school jams, I realized that I had to give credit to Gaga. By beginning with “God Bless America” and then transitioning to “Born This Way,” where she proudly belted lyrics of being confident in sexuality, gender and race.
I wanted so badly to hate her performance, but I could not help but feel a sense of comfort and relief as she sang. In a time when tensions are constantly high due to President Trump and company’s antics, a message of positivity and acceptance was exactly what I and other Americans needed to hear.
I did not know that I needed her performance until I watched it. Prior to watching, I was ready to define Gaga’s performance as “basic” and “boring” due to the compliments she received at Beyoncé’s expense. While Gaga’s little monsters rejoiced over her message of love for all people, I found myself wanting to side with the Beyoncé fans who criticized Gaga for not making a blatant statement against our country’s current leaders.
I do not know if I wanted Gaga to pull a Madonna and give Trump a “f*** you” on national television. I just wanted her to be mediocre, especially after seeing Lahren’s tweet of support for Gaga.
In a “Final Thoughts” video for The Blaze, Lahren hypocritically thanked Gaga multiple times for putting her political opinions aside and “just singing.” What Lahren and many conservatives fail to realize is that Beyoncé “just sang,” too. The only difference in Lady Gaga and Beyoncé’s performance and any other Super Bowl halftime performer is the message within the song choice.
Last February during Super Bowl 50, Beyoncé along with dancers dressed as Black Panthers performed “Formation,” a modern day anthem for black people that encourages love of one’s prominent black features and determination for success.
Sadly, but also predictably, many viewers were offended by Beyoncé marking a turning point in her career from just another pop star to activist at the Super Bowl. Never before had Beyoncé proclaimed pride in her blackness in her music. But her black pride came right on time with police brutality being a hot topic in 2016.
African-Americans like me were empowered by Beyoncé’s public solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. While white America may say that they did not have needed her performance, black America did. Unfortunately, many of those who do not identify as black will not bother to ask why Beyoncé’s performance was so emotionally significant to black Americans.
Like Lady Gaga, Beyoncé adapted to her audience and gave the audience what they needed. However, this conversation should not be centered around the hidden political messages in Super Bowl performances or commercials.
This is about Lahren and other conservatives wanting to police and censor the opinions of entertainers. In her “Final Thoughts” video, Lahren simultaneously shows her underestimation of Gaga while praising her and denouncing other celebrity activists.
“And yes, she has political opinions,” Lahren said. “But on Super Bowl Sunday, America’s game day, Lady Gaga chose to keep her political opinions and/or distaste for the President to herself . . . I never thought I would say this, but here are a few folks who could really learn something from, yes, Lady Gaga: Meryl Streep, Colin Kaepernick, Brandon Victor Dixon, Sarah Silverman, Jesse Williams, Natalie Maines and, of course, the Queen Bey herself, Mrs. Drug Dealers Anonymous Beyoncé Black Panther Knowles.”
I believe that regardless of where these people choose to publicize their opinions, Lahren will be able to rant and scream about their anti- Trump thoughts in a video for The Blaze. Yet, Lahren not attempting to empathize and readiness to name call proves that she cannot handle an opinion other than hers. This explains why she wants to silence entertainers and imply that they are public servants incapable of possessing opinions, but only those that she disagrees with.
Lahren resonated with Gaga’s performance because her message of love was easy and applied to everyone. It relieved her white guilt for one night. But the tougher messages that entertainers like Beyoncé and Colin Kaepernick, who courageously choose to be more than their profession and call out injustice when they see it, threaten her. In this case, Lahren is the one creating a divide.