Celebrating the cultural/entertainment moments that defined America’s 59th Inaugural Ceremonies
( @ladygaga / Instagram )
Wednesday’s inauguration ushered in a new era of American history. It felt less like a quadrennial bureaucratic procedure and more like a vibrant, hopeful, and (in all honesty) surreal celebration of America and all that we, as a nation, can do and be moving forward. The ceremonies were filled with a sea of jewel tones, Dior x Air Jordan 1s, and Bernie Sanders mitten memes galore. Maybe, just maybe, we can scrub the country’s past stains with a Tide pen and a whole lot of persistence.
There’s quite a bit that needs to be done in our country going forward — and the Biden administration must put in the work to do it — but, for now, I’m going to revel in the stunning cultural moments that marked the past week’s festivities.
Inauguration Day’s display of American excess was oddly refreshing, complete with patriotic performances from Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks. It felt like new life was breathed into familiar American classics like The Star Spangled Banner and America The Beautiful. (Anyone in Washington tryna sponsor a bill to make Judas our new national anthem, though? Jon Ossoff, I’m lookin’ at you 👀.) Personally, I was totally living for Jennifer Lopez’s Let’s Get Loud moment.
The only thing that could have possibly outshone Lady Gaga’s Hunger Games-esque gown and brooch was our nation’s first ever youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, and her passionate, powerful, and stirring composition. Her message of working together to repair the past and sow seeds of change for the future was completely necessary. I am hopeful for the future of American life and literature because of her.
What’s more American than making Forrest Gump — err I mean Tom Hanks —the host of a multi-network evening special literally titled Celebrating America? Since we’re in a pandemic, all of the Inauguration’s nighttime festivities were socially-distanced and virtual. Yet, they still felt unifying. The symbolism, intentional or not, of the performers plugging in from different locations across the country added an extra layer of national unification. Demi Lovato, Bruce Springsteen, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake and the Foo Fighters rounded out the diverse musical contributions of the evening.
To whoever coordinated Celebrating America, I just want to talk. I was shocked by the overwhelming presence of Despacito and the complete lack of a signature Lin-Manuel Miranda lip bite (though his recitation of a Seamus Heaney poem was just as beautiful imho). That being said, I was impressed overall by the evening show. Contributions from notable American figures like Dolores Huerta, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Kim Ng, as well as from everyday Americans like a UPS driver and kindergarten teacher were meaningfully sprinkled throughout. Past presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama even spoke of national unity and a peaceful transferral of power as a not-so-subtle nod to the turbulence and divisiveness of the past four years. The evening’s entertainment ended with a flashy fireworks display, signifying the formal end to Chapter 45 of the presidency and the beginning of Chapter 46.
Culture is at the heart of the American experience, and the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies proved no different. In a nation that has been starved for high-level entertainment, Wednesday’s offerings were more than satisfying (I’m still patiently waiting until we can go back to live shows and mosh pits though).
When all is said and done, Gaga > MAGA.
Madison Rosenfield is an Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. When she's not going down internet rabbit holes at 2 AM, she can usually be found curating the perfect Spotify playlist, celebrating her Jewish heritage, crafting, watching coming-of-age films, or taking action in support of causes she cares about. You can find her at @madisonrosenfield on Instagram or @madisonleahh on Twitter to get a deeper look at her passions and perspectives.