Lady Gaga made a political statement during her Super Bowl halftime performance, though with a bit more subtlety than we're used to from the "Born This Way" artist.
Before she jumped to the field, Mission Impossible-style, Gaga belted two patriotic songs from the roof of the NRG stadium.
She started with "God Bless America," a very personal love letter to this country written by musical legend Irving Berlin, a Jewish immigrant, who came to the United States from Imperial Russia at just five years old. Then, she went into what is quite possibly the most famous folk song in American history, "This Land is Your Land," which, too had something of a hidden agenda.
Often used as a marching song, "This Land is Your Land" has become an anthem for those protesting Trump's harsh immigration initiatives from the recently contested executive order to his plans to build a wall on the Mexican border. The final verses of the song (which Lady Gaga did not sing) become increasingly political:
As I went walking I saw a sign there And on the sign it said "No Trespassing." But on the other side it didn't say nothing, That side was made for you and me.
In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people, By the relief office I seen my people; As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking Is this land made for you and me?
Nobody living can ever stop me, As I go walking that freedom highway; Nobody living can ever make me turn back This land was made for you and me.
Shortly after Gaga's performance, Eater executive editor Helen Rosner pointed out in a series of tweets that Woody Guthrie wrote "This Land Is Your Land" as an angry response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America."
Woody Guthrie wrote "This Land is Your Land" as a response to Berlin's 1st-person paean to America. He didn't think it was inclusive enough-- Helen Rosner (@hels) February 6, 2017
That said, many Native Americans disagree with its use, seeing it as a anthem of colonialism.
this land is not your land, though- Dallas Hunt (@Dallas_Hunt) February 6, 2017
nothing like opening up with the ultimate settler-colonial song. #Superbowlhalftime- Sterling HWM (@MrHWM) February 6, 2017
This land wasn't made for you tho.- Aura Bogado (@aurabogado) February 6, 2017
"What we say to every artist, very clearly, and they all buy in: the Super Bowl halftime is the biggest musical event of the year, and it's also a communal event for fans, the Super Bowl itself. People get together as families, as friends. It's a unifying day for people built around the biggest sporting event in the world."
To which Gaga responded, "Well, I don't know if I will succeed in unifying America. 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. … 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."
Just before she leapt, against a background of drone stars and stripes, Gaga said "One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
Liberty and justice for all. It doesn't get more unifying than that.
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