Lady Gaga astounds, adverts attack Trump – and Aussies are embarrassed


Lady Gaga's halftime Superbowl show astounded millions watching in the stadium and on TV
Lady Gaga's halftime Superbowl show astounded millions watching in the stadium and on TV
From Lady Gaga's astounding show to politically charged ads, the Superbowl had it all. Even some football

Lady Gaga was last seen dropping the mic, grabbing a flying football and seemingly jumping into a deep pit.

That was the finale to 13 minutes of frantic action that started on the roof of Houston’s football stadium, saw her plummet to ground level before running several kilometres while singing and fitting in a costume change.

The consensus was that Lady Gaga nailed it – it being the SuperBowl halftime show, the big date in any American football fan, entertainment or advertising agency’s diary.

Following such names as the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson and Beyonce, there was one big question before the game: how political would her show be?

In the past, Lady Gaga has not been shy in addressing questions that matter to her, notably LGBTQ issues. Donald Trump is reported to have prepared an executive order rolling back LGBTQ rights.

Surprisingly she did not deliver an explicit message. We got a brief introduction incorporating the lyrics of Woody Guthrie – “This land is your land/This land is my land” – and the pledge of allegiance: “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

To those seeking a political statement from Lady Gaga, it did the job. And it will have appeared purely as a patriotic message to everyone else.

One moment did stand out. One of her six songs was Born This Way: “No matter gay, straight or bi/Lesbian, transgendered life/I’m on the right track baby/I was born to survive.”

It may not have been a coincidence, given the presence of Vice-President Mike Pence, a longstanding and virulent opponent of LGBTQ rights.

The more political statements came in the famous, and expensive, advertisements. And that message was: “We’re all one nation together, and we respect where people come from and the journey they took to get here.”

This was most obvious in the advert by Airbnb showing people of different colours under the hashtag #weaccept.

“We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong,” the ad said. “The world is more beautiful the more you accept.”

The company went on to announce a programme to support refugees.

A lumber company showed a family’s journey from Central America to the US. That was censored by the Fox network: a longer version posted online shows them arriving at a huge wall, only to find someone has built a door into it.

Budweiser’s ad tells the (fictionalised) story of Adolphus Busch, who leaves Germany for America in 1857 to make something of himself as a master brewer.

On arrival in New York he’s greeted with cries of: “You don’t look like you’re from around here” and “You’re not wanted here! Go back home!”

Busch gets to St Louis, meets Eberhard Anheuser, and the pair go on to brew the quintessentially American beer.

It’s already roused the ire of Sarah Palin and the far-right Breitbart fake news site for being “pro-immigrant”, as if that were something deeply wrong.

Coca-Cola unleashed a wave of social media support for its multilingual sing-along, championing the US’ multicultural nature.

The drinks giant’s advert features America the Beautiful being sung in various languages, including English, Arabic and Hindi, by a cast of people against a backdrop of different landscapes across America.

There’s no doubting which was the worst commercial. Yellow Tail wine has been accused of embarrassing Australia with its ad featuring a woman in a bikini and a kangaroo in an apron.

The 30-second spot introduced an estimated 120 million viewers to a muscular, wine-slugging kangaroo: “If you see a roo at a party, it’s a good party.”

In the ad, a supposed quintessential Australian larrikin wearing a yellow suit and tie and the oddly muscular “Roo” advocate the “fun” of drinking wine outside and with others.

The ad was also singled out for sexism for showcasing Aussie model/actor Ellie Gonsalves’ ability to wear a white bikini and walk on a beach.

“Hi,” the presenter says to Gonsalves. “Wanna pet my roo?”

“Sure,” says Gonsalves. “I’ll pat your roo.”

The ad has induced cultural cringe in Australia, with social media followers criticising not only its embarrassing reduction of their culture but also the fact that the cheap, mass-market Yellow Tail was representing Australia’s wine on the international stage.

There was also some football played. Boston’s New England Patriots – appropriately – came back from 28-3 down to beat the Atlantic Falcons 34-28 in extra time.


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