Just when you think you’ve given up entirely on popular culture, something happens that makes you take another look.
Start with professional football. To say that the NFL had a bad year would be kind. Between Colin Kippersnack’s antics and a ratings slide that would give Keith Olbermann pause, pro football seemed to be on its way to irrelevancy. It also didn’t help that Commissioner Roger Goodell, with his politically correct virtue signaling, seemed all to happy to help usher the NFL out the door. Then along comes Super Bowl LI to remind us all of why we watch professional sports in the first place. Roaring back in the second half, Tom Brady led his Patriots back from a seemingly insurmountable 18-point deficit–and in a show of pure grit and sportsmanship, the team rallied, put the game into overtime, and then pounded their way down the field to win it with one final touchdown. Not only was it a championship for the ages, it was proof that you should never let the impossible stand in your way–something uniquely American, in both its audacity and determination.
If all that wasn’t enough, there was that halftime show! Now don’t get me wrong: I’m a fan of Lady Gaga and have enjoyed her music for years, but I wasn’t much looking forward to seeing her perform when I heard the show was going to be about “inclusion” and “equality” (usually code words for “political” and “harangue”). I figured she, like so many other “artists,” would use her time on stage as a forum to air grievances and give America yet another excuse to hit the restroom instead of watching some bloated spectacle of fakery and folly. Boy, was I wrong. It seems that Gaga actually meant what she said about inclusion, and figured that any message she may have had for the audience would be ill-served by alienating half of it. Instead, she did what entertainers are supposed to do: she entertained. The show was an amazing piece of pop art from start to finish. Not only that, it was truly brave (and not just because Gaga leaped from the roof of NRG Stadium). Instead of lecturing, Gaga let her audience draw their own conclusions from the music and the moment. And she blew everyone away in the process.
Tom Brady and Lady Gaga. They both showed everybody how it’s done.
Here’s hoping that the NFL and Hollywood take notice.