The show for Joe Biden at the Capitol showed a sense of representation. But the young poet Amanda Gorman created a real spirit of optimism.
Redemption wore a red balloon skirt. When Lady Gaga took the stage to sing the national anthem at Joe Biden’s inauguration, it was nothing short of an exorcism. Because the singer is something like Madonna and David Bowie’s daughter in spirit – always the shrillest in the room, always on the side of outsiders, queers and freaks. It stands for a lot that irritates Trump fans to the point of blood.
The inauguration ceremony Biden was, like inauguration ceremonies always, sensitive in terms of symbolism. After all, the event has to be entertaining and dignified, zeitgeisty and compatible with the masses – a real quadrature of a circle. Four years ago, Trump had not been able to win any celebrities for his inauguration next to a casting show star and a medium-famous chunky band (3 Doors Down).
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, on the other hand, performed a powerful ensemble. In addition to Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez was also invited; she sang a medley from Woody Guthrie’s classics “This Land Is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful”. Country star Garth Brooks then sang “Amazing Grace”.
Obviously, the Biden / Harris team understood the value of representation. They gathered a platinum pop star in queer tradition, a Latina from the Bronx, whose American dream – from nightclub dancer to millionaire – has always been the subject of their narrative, and a cowboy hat man from the good old days. It was a cast to show the world what is good and right about liberal America. A party to prove that one can perform greatness and excellence without consciously belittling others.
“Yesterday’s Man” as host
But Gaga, Lopez and Brooks have one thing in common: their time as trend-setting forces was a few years ago, even if not many in Lady Gaga’s case. Pop stars like the singer Ariana Grande or the rapper Cardi B, who have shaped debates in recent years, had supported another: Bernie Sanders. From the point of view of the young Americans politicized by the “Black Lives Matter” protests: inside Joe Biden’s inauguration must have been a touching show – with a well-meaning “Yesterday’s Man” as host who will bring a lot, but certainly no optimism.
Another was responsible for that: the 22-year-old black poet Amanda Gorman read her poem “The Hill We Climb”, with the right amount of pathos and yet calmly, and delivered perhaps the most interesting message of the day: nobody squared the circle better.