Susie Lloyd is the author of Bless Me, Father, For I Have Kids and lots of other fun stuff you can find on her website: susielloyd.com. She spent the last 25-plus years homeschooling her seven kids, yet managed to win three Catholic Press Association awards anyway. When there’s enough food in the house, she speaks at conferences or appears on EWTN or paints the bathroom.
With less than a week since Lady Gaga’s Superbowl Half-Time performance, the Facebook universe has already moved on to the next spectacle. But allow me to talk about it anyway as a launch for this topic – which is not the show itself but our strange response to it and to stuff like it.
The consensus on Facebook seems to be that this year “wasn’t as bad as expected” and definitely “wasn’t as bad as previous years.”
In previous years, Beyonce gyrated around like a prostitute, the Red Hot Chili Peppers flailed around half naked like yesterday’s, cold, fish leftovers, and Madonna practically conjured up the devil. So yeah. Lady Gaga came closer to “family entertainment” because sophisticated as the Super Bowl is, it’s still a family event. Yet most parents I know shut off the halftime show every year.
I am one of the fourteen people in the universe who never watches the game and always watches the halftime show. (I don’t show it to the kids.) I don’t enjoy football. I enjoy singing and dancing and the halftime show is the most spectacular concert of the year.
Lady Gaga’s show was a spectacle that did not disappoint. Most entertainers just wish they had her pipes. I kept thinking, why don’t they just hire her every year to do the Star Spangled Banner like she did in 2016? Rare is the singer who has the range to handle it. This year she was pure delight at the beginning of the show, when she rolled out a medley of God Bless America and This Land Is Your Land. Later, I heard that it may have been a political statement against Trump’s immigration policy. Whatever. It was still lovely. It hearkened back to a more innocent time in America.
Then there was that dive from the roof of NRG Stadium. Prerecorded — so I also heard later — yet no less astonishing in the moment. Then came her Greatest Hits So Far concert itself. Though the acrobatics were impressive, she started losing me. I’ve always thought her hit songs a waste of her talent. They’re not pretty and her voice is just so pretty and capable of such stirring drama and a moment later, such tenderness. But it was that the dancing that finally broke the spell for me. Dancing can make me weep tears of ecstasy — as when I took the kids to see Aladdin on Broadway last summer. This stuff with its jerky, offensive moves made my eyes burn.
The dancing is what got me thinking about my Catholic friends in the Facebook universe saying the show was “not as bad.” I think my friends were saying they weren’t “too” scandalized this time. When you’ve got Catholic homeschooler types rejoicing that the bikini was not as bad as most bikinis you realize that “not as bad” has morphed undetected into a type of good. We forget that it still has in its very definition the word bad. Frankly, we sound a little desperate.
We’ve tacitly accepted this shifting standard of “not so bad.” So I think we should at least see it for what it is. When an artist is capable of something really lovely and really classy then “not as bad” is not a step up but a step down. As the Scarlet Pimpernel put it, “There is nothing quite so bad as something which is not so bad.” It is the same for us who are fortunate enough to be familiar with what is truly good and truly beautiful.