By Kelsey Duchesne
Sunday night was the Superbowl, and I, per usual, wasn’t watching (you're shocked, right?). My lack of enthusiasm for the 4-hour wingfest is partly because *my* superbowl is on February 27th, and partly because I’ve never cared for football in general. Despite being from New England and home to one of the most powerful teams in the league, my disinterest, as of late, has evolved into deep disappointment. the NFL have made some bold attempts to seem pro-women, but the league has been consistently riddled with abuse scandals that result in players receiving a measly few game suspensions and a press tours (where they share their shame and try to seem relateable and sincere). Now, I know plenty of proud feminists who are still committed to their Sunday afternoon ritual, and I understand that it’s an embedded part of American culture-- I’m just saying it’s not for me, and I know I’m not the only one. However, this year felt a bit different, thanks to Renée Elise Goldsberry, Phillipa Soo, and Jasmine Cephas Jones, and Lady Gaga.
Superbowl 51 began with a breathtaking performance by Goldsberry, Soo, and Jones, who all played sisters in the 'lil known musical Hamilton. While showing off their impeccable harmonizing skills during their rendition of America The Beautiful, the three ad-libbed a line that had the crowd cheering. After singing the line “And crown thy good” they added the line “and sisterhood,” as they shared warm, knowing smiles with the audience. This line, sung by three women of color at one of the most-watched televised events of the year struck a cord, and we hope the audience caught on to the significance (and relevance) of their tune.
And then Gaga happened. GAGA. SHOWED. UP.
Before the Superbowl, there was a lot of speculation as to whether Gaga would provide a political performance. Less than a week before, Gaga released a statement, saying that “The only statements that I’ll be making during the halftime show are the ones I’ve been consistently making throughout my career.” While this may have seemed like a tame response, Gaga fans (and specifically mega fans like my coworker Elliot, who sent me this statement seconds after it was released) knew what this meant: the show had no choice but to be political. Gaga is a passionate advocate for the LGBTQ community, domestic abuse survivors, and mental health awareness, and her lyrics reflect this. “No matter gay, straight, or bi/Lesbian, transgendered life/I'm on the right track baby/I was born to survive,” Gaga belted to 111.3 million people (yes, really!). At a time where we’re fighting for the visibility and safety of American minorities, immigrants, and refugees, Gaga’s powerful statements of equality and acceptance hit hard. While I ultimately still don’t feel like watching football is meant for me (which I’m cool with-- no hard feelings!), Gaga’s performance felt like it was for everyone-- and not just those watching. In a time of uncertainty, we saw four women declare what they know America to be-- let’s just hope all 11.3 million viewers were listening.