Leo may have finally won an Oscar this year, but the Internet was buzzing with another star’s outstanding performance at the 2016 Academy Awards. Lady Gaga, who is no stranger to award shows, performed her Oscar-nominated song “Till It Happens To You” on Sunday evening. Gaga wrote the powerful song for a documentary titled “The Hunting Ground,” which addresses the all too-real issue of sexual assault on college campuses nationwide. The songstress, who has opened up about her own sexual assault that occurred when she was 19, left many celebrities in the audience with tears in their eyes, as well as the millions of people watching at home. Gaga was joined on stage by other survivors of sexual assault who revealed various messages written on their arms, some saying “Not your fault,” “Unbreakable,” and “You are love.” As she concluded her performance, Gaga stood and joined hands with the survivors while the audience gave a standing ovation.
Gaga’s performance was more than just an emotional tribute to victims of sexual assault. Her performance is apart of something much larger – a movement that is reaching people worldwide through social media. For years, sexual assault has been a taboo subject. Victims are often ashamed and find themselves suffering emotionally, psychologically and physically as a result of the trauma they have endured. Our culture has repeatedly told victims that they are to blame, whether they were too weak, too nice, too trusting, too intoxicated, or had on too little clothing. While these myths of rape culture will probably always exist in one way or another, they don’t have to dominate our opinions on the subject forever. The truth about sexual assault is finally being brought to light and victims are finding their voices – and I think we have to give a lot of the credit to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Think about it: how many of your friends posted statuses or links on Facebook regarding the Oscars last night? As you were scrolling through your feed on Twitter, how many tweets were accompanied by #Oscars? Given that the Academy Awards was trending on both Facebook and Twitter, I would guess that we all had feeds full of posts about what was happening at the awards show. Not surprisingly, Lady Gaga’s heart-wrenching performance generated a lot of positive attention. As I scrolled through Facebook, I saw my own Facebook friends sharing the video of her performance and expressing their support for her and other victims of sexual assault. I saw other celebrities coming forward and sharing their own stories, encouraging others to do the same and letting them know that they are not alone. I witnessed people from all over the world posting, commenting, and “liking,” but most importantly, I saw the unstoppable power of social media.
Social media has become a platform for injustice – those who were once voiceless can find their voices again just by seeing how much people actually do care about what happened to them. They find their voice by witnessing others sharing their own stories and building the confidence to do the same. They find their voice by connecting with people who understand what they went through, and in return forming communities of activists who are determined to change the world. If it weren’t for social media, so many people would still be silently struggling, hiding their pain, and believing the lies that they’ve been told about themselves. For as much criticism that social media receives, it should receive ten times the amount of praise. Lady Gaga’s Oscars performance last night was just another example of how powerful the sharing and commenting on social media can be; not only can it change lives, but it can save lives.
You can see her powerful performance below.