Yes, of course “The Simpsons” put Lady Gaga in an aerial harness and flew her over a concert crowd five years before the performer actually did so at Sunday’s Super Bowl.
Given the degree to which the record-breaking Fox show has so savvily blanketed pop culture for three decades, “The Simpsons” can be interpreted as having “predicted” everything from NSA surveillance to President Donald Trump.
Granted, there are striking visual similarities between the 2012 episode of “The Simpsons,” titled “Lisa Goes Gaga,” and Gaga’s own halftime act over the weekend, in which she is suspended above the audience in full glittery costume before being lowered by wires to take the stage like, as The Washington Post’s Chris Richards wrote, “a glam rock Spiderwoman.” But what is more striking than this precursor image is the “predictive” content and context of the episode.
“Lisa Goes Gaga” was dreamed up in 2011, after executive producer James L. Brooks was impressed by the singer’s interview on “60 Minutes.” Showrunner Al Jean approached the musician, who was game for playing a cartoon avatar of herself donning more than a dozen outfits that parodied her own headline-worthy costumes. She was also up for performing a tune that nods to the singer’s “Little Monsters.”
Yet beyond the visuals, the true connective tissue here is that in both the May 2012 “Simpsons” episode and in her Super Bowl performance, Gaga is delivering a message of inclusion in difficult times.
In “Lisa Goes Gaga,” the entire town of Springfield is in an emotional funk – particularly young Lisa, who has become especially unpopular after Bart unmasks her scheme to improve her standing at school.
It just so happens, though, that Lady Gaga is traveling town to town to build tolerance and tear down those cultural walls that divide us. And so, like a silvery goddess of self-esteem uplift, Gaga is literally uplifted above the townsfolk as she sings about overcoming differences and of “monsters” finding self-acceptance (with even an allusion to “Star Wars'” Jawa).
Likewise, as has been dissected, Gaga’s Super Bowl performance brought a message of inclusivity amid divisive times and what for some is a politics-fueled funk – especially in her delivery of “Born This Way” as a melodic celebration, The Post wrote, of “gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgender life.” (Her singing also included a brief quoting of the protest-rooted song “This Land Is Your Land,” penned by legend Woody Guthrie,
In that way, “The Simpsons” – with that episode’s message of tolerance – rings now like a dry run for Gaga’s Houston extravaganza.