Rape. It is a word that when said, should be drawing the attention of the world, but doesn’t always seem to do so. Thankfully, someone with the voice strong enough to independently promote and make change is shouting out in pitch perfect tune.
When scrolling through the “recommended videos” list YouTube creates for viewers based on previous videos they’ve watched, I came across a video for Lady Gaga’s new single, “Til It Happens To You” which was released Sept. 18. I had no clue that this had been released, and I believe myself to be one of the obsessive fans. So I clicked on the link to watch the music video.
Before the song even started, these words appeared onto the screen against a pitch black background, with no audio at all:
“The following contains graphic content that may be emotionally unsettling but reflects the reality of what is happening daily on college campuses.”
I read this, understood that it was going to be about something sensitive to many people and continued anyways because I lacked any thought of how it would affect me. We all see these messages somewhere, but continue to proceed without really thinking anything of how we will react.
The song starts out with a stringed orchestral sort of sound, then starts right away into the lyrics.
As the first line comes from Gaga’s mouth, “You tell me it gets better,” I instantly get goosebumps. Then as the song progresses the lyrics (although somewhat repetitive at parts) definitely send a message. “Til it happens to you, you don’t how it feels,” Gaga sings in the chorus. It was then that I realized specifically what the song was about. It follows four different girls living on a college campus. One is in her dorm, two are at a party and one is a trans boy (a person who is physically female but mentally a male) in the boys restroom.
Long story short, and to avoid having to type things that might trigger any readers that have gone through these things, all I will say is that bad things happen to these innocent people. None of them deserve it, and that is Gaga’s message. No one deserves to be raped. No buts.
At the end of the song, the silent black screen returns. No warning this time for further graphic material, but instead a harsh reality that most people seem to be aware of but never say anything more than “oh no, that’s so terrible.”
“One in five college women will be sexually assaulted this year unless something changes,” the screen read.
In the video description I saw that Gaga was donating a portion (she did not say how much) to multiple organizations that provide help to female survivors of sexual assault. To see that the same woman who donated $1.5 million total to Japan during their earthquakes in 2011 is still raising money for different organizations, besides her personal youth-empowering foundation Born This Way launched in 2012, is heart-warming.
Of all the songs I have listened to (which is a lot), I’ve gotten goosebumps from, terribly danced to, but never has a song had such an emotional effect on me. As embarrassing as it may sound, “Til It Happens To You” made me bawl like a baby the first time I listened to it. Not only was the song itself moving, but the video that was with it only made the effect it had on me profoundly more intense.
Major props to Gaga on this song. While her slower stuff may not be my personal favorite, ‘Til It Happens To You” is definitely one of my top five.