The Super Bowl halftime show press conference takes tremendous liberties with the words “press” and “conference” each year. It is a choreographed show during which the last thing the NFL wants is an actual journalist to get the microphone and ask a real question.
But guess what? It happened anyway. So let’s see if you pick out which of these noted news gatherers make the only query that mattered to Lady Gaga on Thursday afternoon:
A) Terry Bradshaw.
B) Osi Umenyiora.
C) James Corden’s sisters.
D) Simone Biles.
The correct answer: E! That’s right, the same network that was busy dumping slime on Giants receiver Victor Cruz in another room at the sprawling NFL media headquarters managed to ask the pop diva if she would make a statement with her halftime performance.
“The only statements that’ll be making during the halftime show are the ones that I have been consistently making throughout my career,” she said. “I believe in a passion for inclusion. I believe in the spirit of equality and the spirit of this country. It’s one of love and compassion and kindness. So my performance will uphold those philosophies.”
So now we have another reason to watch the halftime show, presented by a soft-drink company that no doubt was counting on something bubbly. Will Gaga give America something more to talk about on Monday morning than a gyrating guy in a shark costume?
Will one of the world’s most outspoken entertainers, who has never been shy to take on anyone including the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., do something that will make Roger Goodell more uncomfortable than he’d be at a Patriots Fan Club meeting?
Pass the popcorn. We’ll be watching.
The halftime show “press conference” is my favorite moment moment each Super Bowl week, a truly bizarre spectacle that tries to pass off obviously staged questions from celebrities and fawning entertainment outlets as an actual interview.
As an example, two years ago Katy Perry was thrown this fastball by E!: “Where is your dog?” And, just moments later, a joyful pup named Butters came bounding onto the stage as everyone ooohed and ahhhhed. As press conferences go, it sure beats interrogating Bill Belichick.
Lady Gaga’s session followed that familiar formula. A Houston-area TV station asked her if she planned to repel off the Astrodome into the stadium, as if Gaga also can defy the laws of physics. Biles, the star from the Rio Olympics, offered up some gymnastic tips and then earned praise from Gaga for her work with foster families.
Then, there was this gem between Bradshaw, the four-time Super Bowl winner, and the performer (and can you imagine two human beings in the country who have less in common):
“You’re the biggest star that I’ve ever looked at, I sang with one of the Beatles once, but I screwed the song up,” Bradshaw said. When Gaga mentioned that her grandmother was a Steelers fan, and the old quarterback cracked, “Is she single, Lady? I have my wife here, that’s just a funny line.”
And it was a funny line. Mostly, though, it felt like Gaga was just playing her starring role in this ridiculous dog-and-monster show. I couldn’t help but wonder: Would the citizen who participated in protests outside Trump Tower have preferred a real 30-minute session to discuss the current events in the country? We’ll never know.
She did, however, make sure to use this moment in the spotlight to send out a real message.
“I’d say one of the things I’m most excited about for this halftime show, as much as it is a great moment for me in my life, it wasn’t given to me; it was given to them,” she said. “So essentially that kid that couldn’t get a seat at the cool kids’ table, and that kid that was kicked out of the house because his mom and dad couldn’t accept him for who he was, that kid’s going to have the stage for 13 minutes, and I’m excited to give it to them.”
Will she do something on that stage that will be truly memorable and remarkable at this time in our country’s history? I have no idea. But I do know this: We’ll be watching.