On Sept. 17, 2015, Lady Gaga officially released her new single “Til It Happens to You.”
The song was written by Lady Gaga and songwriter Diane Warren for the 2015 documentary film, “The Hunting Ground,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
The music video has already garnered 13,085,317 views on YouTube.
The video begins with a content warning: “The following contain graphic content that may be emotionally unsettling but reflects the reality of what is happening daily on college campuses.”
The words are followed by the music video footage, shot in black and white.
The video follows three separate assaults, cutting between the different plot lines as their stories progress.
The first story depicts a young woman composing music in a quiet space, presumably her dorm room. A male peer joins her and eventually makes romantic advances towards her.
She refuses his advances, but then the male peer becomes violent and rapes her.
The second storyline begins with an androgynous woman in a bathroom, when a male enters the bathroom and begins to grab at her. Upon her rejection, the male pushes her down on the counter and rapes her.
The third storyline shows two female friends at a party. As they dance, a male peer drugs their drinks. One of the women wakes up to the man raping her. Nearby, her friend is slumped over a chair unconscious, with her underpants around her ankles.
After the video establishes the three stories, the footage shows the aftermath of the assaults and its effects on the different victims.
The video depicts the mental and emotional trauma of assault and how it can manifest in different ways.
The victims struggle to keep up with academics, fight low self-esteem and experience problems maintaining interpersonal relationships.
The latter portion of the video contains interspersed scenes showing an arm with words written on it.
These scenes include phrases such as: “I am worthless,” “Sometimes I hate myself,” “Believe me” and “Listen, you will hear me.”
As the female victims gain support from friends and family, these written phrases take a turn and become more encouraging, showing phrases such as, “I am worthy” and “I love myself.”
The video footage closes with the victims marching down the hallways of their campuses, with their friends following in solidarity.
The video ends with the statement: “One in five college women will be sexually assaulted this year unless something changes.”
A portion of the sales revenue of Lady Gaga’s song will be donated to organizations that help sexual assault survivors.
On the day of the song’s release, Lady Gaga tweeted: “We hope you feel our love&solidarity through the song & perhaps find some peace in knowing u r not alone through this film #TilItHappensToYou.”
The feedback from commenters on YouTube has been largely positive.
While general audiences appear supportive of Lady Gaga’s socially conscious music, critics call attention to the fact that the victims in her video are all female.
Many listeners have commented that women are not the only victims of sexual assault on college campuses.
Despite the criticism, Lady Gaga’s song takes on an issue present on every college campus.
Moving forward, her new music can serve as a model for socially conscious and politically progressive media.