They tend to be humorous these days: ironic, self-deprecating.The same country singer who sang the national anthem, Luke Bryan, appeared in a Busch beer ad with a second of goofy humour that made him look a little embarrassed. There is not necessarily a meaning to each year’s aesthetic.Read more: New England Patriots come back from 25 points down to win Super Bowl over Atlanta FalconsLike the Oscars, the moment presents an opportunity for artists to make some statement of defiance against this military-musical complex, as M.I.A. That was fashion reference without content. She began with a patriotic song, God Bless America, on the roof of the stadium, then descended on ropes into a medley of her biggest hits – Poker Face, Born This Way, Just Dance, Bad Romance, Telephone – performed with her usual vigour alongside a team of five or six million fit dancers (by my count).Did the aesthetic of the stage set indicate any commentary? But we know Born This Way so well it hardly shocks now.It was a slick, sexy, professional show – and Gaga’s breathlessness as she sat at her piano to sing, after some acrobatic dancing, showed that she was actually singing, which was refreshing, in an age of simulacra.Otherwise it was just nice: polite to the point of being timid. There were some costumes that mixed football helmets and white drapery, to uncertain effect. There was not even any humour.It could be argued that Born This Way, an anthem to gay rights, is inherently disrespectful of a conservative administration that seems likely to curtail those same rights. What we saw was the tamest Lady Gaga performance on record. It was hard to tell what the aesthetic was. There was a scrap-metal tower that was vaguely reminiscent of Mad Max-style dystopias. The commercials. Because the performers at the Super Bowl halftime show are the most popular in the United States, they are expected to provide a kind of definition of contemporary culture: Their costumes and references will summarize the moment in fashion, their political statements will be seen to represent the mainstream. Lady Gaga flies solo at Super Bowl halftime show (literally) (The Associated Press)

The Super Bowl is a nationalistic spectacle: The anthems – America the Beautiful and The Star-Spangled Banner – are sung with a backdrop of military uniforms, celebrities of entertainment appear in every commercial (this year, Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake appeared to hawk products in separate ads) and the F-16s scream overhead, a congealing of military and cultural power.Some of the cultural references assembled on that massive stage have been frankly bizarre – as when Madonna had dancers dressed in the costumes of the thugs in the film A Clockwork Orange. Even Mr. It didn’t happen. What there was not was any kind of statement. Gaga will not be the hero of the revolution.You know what was more subversive than Gaga’s show, though? Bieber mocked himself a bit.This is the real sophistication of the United States: the sense that to be cool involves humour, even when millions of dollars are at stake.This is where the popular culture of that country shows itself to be far more sophisticated than its Commander in Chief, for this kind of cool is beyond him. did when she gave the finger to the cameras during her performance (and was subsequently sued for $16.6-million by the NFL).The choice of Lady Gaga as star of Super Bowl LI was a similarly dangerous one for the league, as her political views are known to be liberal: Was she likely to make some kind of uncomfortable anti-Trump statement to the most conservative audience of the United States?Expectations for this were set when cast members of the musical Hamilton – known to be not the President’s favourites – sang one of the anthems.We were all waiting for it.