There’s Something About Madonna

Madonna Inn #2

Madonna was in the news [again] recently at the centre of controversy [again] for [another] lewd and raunchy stage performance. To be honest, this isn’t at all surprising as Madonna’s whole career has centred around sexual controversy in a series of masterfully, orchestrated, attention grabbing, performances.

Madonna has been the dominatrix of the media for years. For three decades she has controlled her own controversy like it was a muted, masked, gimp at the end of a leash; and in doing so she has become a multi-millionaire and achieved legendary pop status. Her most recent media hype came during her MDNA Tour in Los Angeles where she performed a ‘striptease’ on stage in support of the young girl who was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan for promoting women’s rights to education. Well why not? Any rational person would find Madonna’s actions perfectly appropriate to the cause wouldn’t they? Only just last week I considered uploading a sex tape on YouTube of myself with a prostitute and three grey squirrels to draw attention to my blog… oh, and highlight the plight of… of… erm… yeah, the plight of the Syrian freedom fighters – yaay!

I’ve never been a huge fan of Madonna’s music, although I have nothing against the woman herself. As 50-odd year old women go – aside from her vampire-white, tissue paper skin – Madonna is looking good; and I’m sure the dirty old mare still knows a trick or two in the bedroom (I certainly wouldn’t kick her out of bed for menopausal sweating). I’ve always had a soft spot for  women who are unfairly labelled as ‘slutty’. I find women who are open about their sexual proclivities tend to be open and honest about everything else. And they are great fun. It’s just that Madonna’s pseudo-erotic publicity seeking routines are getting a little bit predictable and tired. Times have moved on and Madonna isn’t ahead of them anymore. Not only that – elderly feminine rights aside – she’s old and it just looks so desperate, sad, and glaringly cheap.

You can’t really knock Madonna’s achievements. She is pop-royalty, for sure. I was a kid when she first broke onto the scene in 1982 and for me that style she had made her look accessible. She was like the older, precocious, teenage chick at the school disco, who would take you by the hand to the toilets, pull you into a cubicle, remove her chewing gum, unzip your pants and give you a blow job with a smile. She was energetic, rude and playful, but instead of being considered as slutty, she was just a liberated, horny, 80’s chick. A throwback to the hippy-chick of the sixties, but with brighter colours, more makeup, more hair dye and more cleavage. Her music wasn’t really any good, but she was shagging John ‘Jellybean’ Benitez, one of the most successful producers of the time, so she was onto a winner. With MTV pumping out of TV screens 24hrs a day, pimping out pop-music for all it’s worth with flesh, neon, flashing lights and trashy fashion, this horny Italian-American chick in raunchy outfits, thrusting and gyrating and bouncing around like she just wants to party, singing stupid songs with catchy beats and lyrics about material girls living in material worlds getting touched for the very first time – this was the dawn of the age of decadence and excess – Madonna had arrived whilst the rest of the world had come.

Sex sells, and for the remainder of her long and successful musical career, Madonna sold sex like nobody else could (Madonna also did some acting and film stuff, but she wasn’t very good). She milked the tit of sex marketing for every last drop – hetero sex, homo sex, group sex, dirty sex, sleazy sex, kinky sex, inter-racial-religious sex – stage shows, videos, risqué clothes, even a book – Madonna used anything that was left to the imagination to sell herself and she did it very, very, well.

After all the sex and erotica Madonna did on and off stage in the 80’s and 90’s she decided to become a mum. But for all intent and purposes, her public image was more like a nun. Despite a past of promoting decadence and debauchery, she named her first daughter after the one the world’s most famous religious shrines, Lourdes. She then married British film director Guy Ritchie, gave birth to son Rocco and moved to England where she attempted to adopt the mantle of landed gentry, even going as far as buying her own little in-house African – a baby boy she ‘adopted’ in Malawi and named David. But it seems the Noughties were a confusing period for Madonna. This was a period where she attempted to be an English wife, an orphan rescuer and a Kabala spiritualist, but still found time to give Britney Spears a tongues-in kiss on stage to grab some attention. But what is it all about? What is Madonna’s message? Does Madonna really have a message? And if she does have a message is it simply, “Buy my records, come to my shows and look at me, damn you”?

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I really don’t know what Madonna’s message has been over the years. After all that slutting about on and off stage, the whole English Ma’am period seemed like some sort of penance. A last snatch (no pun intended) at respectability before entering middle age. But clearly she’s fallen off the wagon. The publicity lure of the lewd and lurid is too much of a draw for the world’s greatest exhibitionist, and even at the age of 54 she still feels the need to strip off and gyrate around the stage in front of thousands of people. Why she still does it I can only guess. She certainly doesn’t need the money or the fame, so perhaps she just needs to be seen. I just can’t figure out what the deep message is that she’s promoting. Sting was a muso-eco-warrior, Bono has his politics, 50 Cent has his street cred and Noel Gallagher has Man City. Madonna has conical bra’s and extravagant outfits, spiritualism and muscular body image, extravagant outfits and gay friends, concerns for poverty in Africa and sexual liberation, lots of hairdo’s, lots of sex and lots of publicity – but where has she been going with it all?

Apart from sex, erotica and publicity, I can’t really see a common thread in Madonna’s ethical causes, which is what makes me wonder if there really is any. Sure she has inspired millions across the globe and will legitimately lay her claim as one of the 20th centuries greatest female icons and exponent of sexual liberation, but I just find no ethical cohesion in it all. The positive stuff seems simply to be a bi-product of the marketing of Madonna and her pathological need for celebrity attention. If she had have retired and opened a legal whorehouse in Nevada and campaigned for reform in the laws governing the sex industry and greater efforts to combat sex trafficking around the world, I would have felt like I understood the woman better and had a greater respect for her. But all I see is someone who is pushing an envelope that was opened and had its contents exposed years ago. Someone who is in denial of an intractable fact of the female aesthetic – youth is beauty. This is something that is embedded in the biological gene pool of the human species and not even Madonna can change that – but then again maybe she isn’t, I just don’t know. I just wish she would stop. Just go away and leave me with the images of the 80’s and 90’s. Continually being reminded that Madonna is still performing the same sex routine messes with my sense of chronological equilibrium. Go and sit by a piano and do acapella covers to old classics, just stop thrusting your gusset out at us all for chrissakes.

* I have deliberately refrained from including pictures of Madge in this post, you know what she looks like.

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