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Screw It, Gaga: Get Political AF at the Super Bowl


Sports and active resistance have a long, storied relationship.

When my editor asked me I was interested in writing about my take on what to expect from Lady Gaga performing the halftime show of Super Bowl LI, my reaction was a resounding, "Me?! Do you even read my articles? My hottest hot takes on the media are on reruns of Star Trek and how much I hate awards shows. Now you want me to cover both pop music and sports?" He replied, "Well, about how it's going to be political." All I could think was, Oh. Well. I guess that is what I do around here. So here we go, my hot take about Lady Gaga's halftime show...

Why is everyone expecting a political statement? Is that what we do during the halftime show now? If I recall correctly, the first time a political statement was made during a halftime show was by Beyonce at last year's game in an outfit invoking the Black Panthers, but in short shorts and chunky heels, and singing her new song, "Formation," which as we all know was about empowering black identity, and the video protested against the recent spate of police killings of unarmed black men. The performance wasn't that shocking to watch, and as far as statements go, it was well done. Of course, I'm only speaking for myself and not the masses of shocked and outraged white people who thought that a bunch of backup dancers wearing sexy black militant costumes was about to usher in a race war. I mean, really guys? If you're that frightened when a black person wears a black beret, I hate to tell you this, but the Army issues black berets to black people every day and teaches them to use rocket launchers.

Still, if we're going to start doing political statements during halftime of the Super Bowl, I'm OK with it. Sports has long had a history of political statements from athletes, so why shouldn't the performers get in on what's probably the largest audience they'll ever have? Over the course of sports history, you have Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising a Black Power fist at the 1968 Olympics and President Carter leading 50 countries to boycott the 1980 Olympics over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In 1967 Katherine Switzer snuck into the Boston Marathon, which was men-only at the time, and finished the race even though officials tried to physically remove her. In 2012 members of the Miami Heat shared a picture of themselves in hoodies with the hashtag #WeAreTrayvonMartin. In 2013 Minnesota Viking Chris Kluwe wrote often about the rampant homophobia on his team and in the NFL, while in 2014 members of the St. Louis Rams came onto the field with their hands in the air to say "Hands Up Don't Shoot." Last year San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to show support of Black Lives Matter. These are small handful of political protests in sports, and these are just the protests involving American athletes. There are dozens more examples involving Irish independence, defiance of Nazi Germany, protests against Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, women's suffrage in England (which resulted in a fatality), and religious discrimination.

So if Lady Gaga wants to get involved in the athletic political protest racket, I say go for it. Almost certainly her protest will be against Donald Trump's presidency and his appointing of white supremacists like Steve Bannon to the National Security Council, taking said white supremacists off the terrorist watch list, then limiting background checks on gun purchases. Or maybe it will be about Trump not recording his conversations with Putin over the White House phones. Maybe it will be about his Muslim ban or appointing shills for oil companies to the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department. Could be about Trump threating war with Iran, North Korea, and Mexico? It might be about his botched raid in Yemen, which killed an 8-year-old girl. There's also his firing of the acting attorney general over her refusing to defend his nonsensical Muslim ban, the firing of almost every senior director in the State Department, and senior Secret Service personnel. Maybe it's ... HOLY JESUS WE HAVEN'T EVEN GONE THREE WEEKS WITH THIS GUY AND HE'S SETTING FIRE TO EVERYTHING!

Mother of God! If Gaga doesn't get up there and channel America's collective anxiety and just scream in abject horror for 15 minutes it'll be the biggest letdown in Super Bowl history. We should all just be screaming along with her. Why even have a game?! Just spend the whole time screaming at Trump, "What the hell are you doing, you lunatic?!"

AMANDA KERRI is a writer and comedian based in Oklahoma City. Follow her on Twitter @EternalKerri.

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