When you’re part of the biggest night in cinema and you hold one of the highest positions in the most powerful country in the world, you have the world’s attention when the spotlight is on you.
Appearing in Sunday’s 88th Annual Academy Awards, Vice President Joe Biden’s introduction of Lady Gaga’s performance was a platform to continue the dialogue on rape culture in college campuses across America.
As part of his introduction, Biden asked those watching–whether at home or at those at the Dolby theater–to do something about sexual abuse cases, specifically in college campuses.
“Despite significant progress over the last few years, too many women and men, on and off college campuses, are still victims of sexual abuse,'” Biden said. “Tonight, I’m asking you to join millions of Americans, including me, President Obama and the thousands of students I’ve met on college campuses and the artists here tonight to take the pledge. A pledge that says ‘I will intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given.'”
He also used his introduction of Lady Gaga as a chance to ask audiences to visit “It’s On Us”, a website for anti-sexual assault campaign.
— Vice President Biden (@VP) February 29, 2016
Biden capped off his introduction by asking viewers to remind survivors know “they did nothing wrong.”
“We must and we can change the culture,” Biden said.
And to drive home the message on fighting rape culture, Lady Gaga delivered a powerful performance of her Oscar-nominated song “Till It Happens to You” from the documentary The Hunting Ground.
Gaga, who revealed in 2014 that she herself is a sexual assault survivor, sang the emotional song which she dedicated to sexual assault survivors. As the performance was reaching its end, other survivors joined Gaga onstage in a moment of solidarity and profession of survival.
— Jade Tolbert (@jadelizroper) February 29, 2016
The performance was met with standing ovations in the theater and social media, according to Mic.
— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) February 29, 2016
In her tweet, actress Debra Messing called the song “a gift, a wakeup call, a punch in the gut, a validation.”
Meanwhile, singer Millie Thrasher said “[the] courage and artistry of [Lady Gaga] is so powerful.”
Another Twitter user summed up Lady Gaga in word: FEARLESS.
The Oscar moment is another necessary part of the ongoing discussion on sexual abuse that’s been going on in the media lately. The message of the song comes in perfect timing when the world is still discussing the pop star Kesha’s legal battle with her alleged abuser Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald. And it’s a message that must be continued to be spread.