On Jan. 21, 2017, Donald Trump—a man whose platforms and growing staff invoke fear in as many Americans as it does hope—will be sworn in as the President of the United States. Fifteen days later, Lady Gaga will perform at the Super Bowl LI halftime show presented by classic American beverage Pepsi. The 30-year-old diva stars today in a two-minute teaser video that feels like a declaration. The "fanifesto" clip intimates that this musical moment won't be a broad feel-good affair but rather a call, subtly or overtly, for fair protection and recognition for the rights of the people the cast of Hamilton recently called, in a message from the stage to guest Vice President-elect Mike Pence...
"...the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights."
"What I really want is to bring people together that normally wouldn't talk to each other or hang out, or maybe like each other or understand each other," Gaga—the bisexual, world-famous LGBTQ advocate who made "Born This Way," fiercely supports Hillary Clinton and protested at Trump Tower after the Nov. 8 election—says in Pepsi's "fanifesto" promo. "Fandom can do that. It's that powerful. ... It can give somebody the courage to speak up, or come out. Even turn a room full of strangers into a family for three hours on a Sunday."
What Gaga tells us in this video is, "I have a lot of different types of fans. Our community is like, very not–straight-laced. And it's not one type of music that they like. We have eclectic tastes." At the same time, here's who she shows us:
"I'm absolutely honored to be doing the Pepsi Halftime Show," she concludes in the clip. "We've been already thinking of all the different ways we can make this a special experience for all the NFL fans. I'm even planning to bring a few fans along with me, because it's not just going to be my moment. It's going to be our moment."
There is in fact a contest to be one of Ms. Germanotta's guests of honor; a few passionate superfans have already won—and been filmed finding out:
Gaga's already told Carson Daly she wants to "push the envelope"—but not too far. “In some ways," she said, "I want to lightly lick the envelope, hop inside, close it, write my name on it, and the thing is that I really just want to be there for football fans because that’s what I’m hired to do."
Now think about the 115.5 million Americans who watched this past January's Super Bowl halftime show—the same night Gaga sang the national anthem—and who felt like the moment was or wasn't theirs. The game was the most-watched TV event in American history. Smack dab in the middle, Beyoncé and 38 black dancers rolled into Coldplay's headlining slot with Black Panther–inspired outfits and Black Power spirit. They did "Formation," a song of black empowerment and celebration, of slaying, twirling and stunting on anyone who needs it, of hot sauce in bags, swag. It had dropped one day prior, and, with its video showing Beyoncé atop a cop car sinking in a flooded New Orleans, was already being construed in Trumpy corners as "anti-police" or "reverse racism" (not real, fam). An America well aware of Black Lives Matter reacted strongly and widely. It was confronted, on sports' and advertising's biggest night, with things it never faced during halftime rockathons by The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen.
Whichever side of her many-layered self Gaga emphasizes, what songs she plays and what they stand for, whether she drums up more conversation than Queen Bey—it's all immaterial. When it's done, Lady Gaga's Super Bowl halftime show will accomplish, to an extent great or small, what the cast of Hamilton aimed for in that same Nov. 18 address to Mike Pence:
"But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us. We truly thank you for sharing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men, women of different colors, creeds and orientations."
Next, watch an old school Fuse interview with Lady Gaga: