In what some would say was the most emotional part of the Oscars this past Sunday, Lady Gaga ripped into the hearts of the audience and viewers at home with her performance of “Till it Happens to You.”
The song written for the documentary film The Hunting Ground, was nominated for Best Original Song at this year’s Academy Awards. The emotionally charged song tells the story of empathy and how no one truly knows how much sexual assault can affect it’s victim, until it happens to them. Gaga, who is a victim of rape herself, revealed that the song’s theme was not only important to her but her family as well. Her father’s sister Joanne had been sexually assaulted while attending college, which is exactly what the film is about.
Gaga sat at a white baby grain piano while donning a white strapless jumpsuit and over skirt. Alone at first, she pounded on the piano keys while belting out the haunting lyrics “You tell me ‘it gets better, it gets better, in time’…How could you know…Till it happens to you, you don’t know.” Later on during the performance a curtain raised, revealing dozens of young men and women standing hand in hand. As the group of survivors walked forward they showed off writings on their arms which read “Survivor,” “You Are Love,” “Unbreakable” and “Not Your Fault.”
Vice President Joe Biden introduced the performance by bringing much-needed attention to end rape culture. In his speech, the Vice President pleaded with Oscars viewers to go to website ItsOnUs.org and sign a pledge promising to intervene in situations that could lead to sexual assaults.
At the end of the song, Gaga joined together with the men and women as they raised their arms, proud, signaling that they are not victims but survivors. Teary eyed celebs gave a standing ovation to not only Lady Gaga, but the young men and women as well. As if the night couldn’t get more sentimental, Oscar winner Brie Larson gave an individual hug to every survivor as they walked off the stage.
Lady Gaga later tweeted, “After my performance last night I felt a weight lifted. Like I didn’t have to hide anymore.”