Need yet another piece of evidence that we are currently living in one of the most appalling periods in history?
Consider what’s been happening this week in the world of Lady Gaga.
As you might have heard, the woman known to her high-school drama teacher as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was the featured musical attraction at last Sunday’s Super Bowl LI.
Going into the show, the NFL no doubt had concerns, given the current divisive political climate in America.
Gaga is a famously left-leaning supporter of LGBT rights and a vocal critic of the American government’s often discriminatory immigration policies. On the other side of the table, the last thing the NFL wanted was controversy, especially in an era when it’s under fire for everything from its handling of Deflategate to an ongoing unwillingness to acknowledge concussions.
Gaga turned in a performance that managed to be big, bold, and mainstream, and sneakily subversive. Those who tuned in simply to be entertained saw her start a greatest-hits set by literally plunging from the roof of the Houston’s NRG Stadium, and finish it by catching a football mid-air while jumping off a riser and disappearing from sight.
It was crowd-pleasing gold that every Middle American—no matter how intolerant—could love.
Those paying attention to the subtext of Gaga's show might have noticed how it started with her singing “This Land” (an enduring protest anthem written by card-carrying commie Woody Guthrie) and “God Bless America” (where she placed a notable emphasis on the lines “Stand beside her and guide her”).
If disciples of the Cheeto Jesus missed those shots, they almost certainly missed the significance of Gaga rolling the LGBT anthem “Born This Way” into her set, and then re-imagining football as high camp for "Bad Romance".
But everyone went home happy. From Ivanka Trump....
....to Hillary Clinton.
And then, almost immediately, we were reminded the modern world is an awful place. Rather than find herself celebrated for a difficult job pulled off brilliantly, Gaga quickly became the target of Internet trolls, not for her performance, but for the fact that her stomach in certain shots looked like she enjoys eating more than a bowl of air once a week.
Most of us marvelled at the kind of midsection we haven't owned since age 12. Some didn't.
The body-shaming started—within seconds. And in some ways it was entirely predictable, considering that we live in a time when even the president of the United States spends his days on Twitter taking low-blow potshots at his fellow citizens.
But giving us hope for the future of humanity, Gaga’s legions of fans were quick to come her defence. Inspirationally, that led to a statement from the Queen of the Little Monsters herself. The most important part of that statement, which she released via Instagram, was this: "I heard my body is a topic of conversation so I wanted to say, I'm proud of my body and you should be proud of yours too."
Thanks to chronic alcoholism, a life-long weakness for Pringles, and a three-bottles-of-Avalon-Dairy-Eggnog habit in December, I've ballooned up to where I'm now the heaviest that I’ve ever been.
A post-Christmas promise to ride the Stairmaster at home for at least 17 hours a day in January went right through the window 36 hours after New Year's. So did that vow to stop eating every bit of skin off Safeway chickens, including that extra-fatty part around the birds’ golden-roasted anus.
Thanks to Lady Gaga, I no longer care that I look like I’m in my third trimester or that haven't seen my johnson in person for a half-decade.
Or that I weigh 230.6 pounds while wearing nothing but a pair of Calvin Kleins and a look of sadly defeated horror.
Thank you, Lady Gaga. You have a body that 99.9 percent of America’s Cheeto-stained keyboard trolls can only dream of owning. And even better than that, you've made me feel better about mine.