You’ve come a long way, baby!
We’ve all worshipped Madonna at some point in our lives. No, I’m not referring to the Virgin Mary. I’m talking about Madonna Ciccone, commonly known as the Queen of Pop/Material Girl. She was recently in the news (again) for kissing a fellow musician on-stage (yet again!). I distinctly remember the time she made out with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the 2003 VMA (Video Music Awards) and Britney’s then-boyfriend, Justin Timberlake, subsequently breaking up with her. Come to think of it, if Justin couldn’t handle a kiss, how can the rest of the world handle Madonna and her eccentricities? But handle we most certainly have, and catapulted her to a demi-God status. Then why this brouhaha over a creative act in the middle of a set at a music festival? Why are we suddenly squirming, and shifting in our seats uncomfortably while the Internet creates a ruckus of Madonna kissing rapper Drake? I’ll tell you why, but before that, let me share with all of you a little bit of Madge’s (as she’s fondly known) history.
Madonna was known for her high GPA and achieved notoriety for her unconventional behavior. She would perform cartwheels and handstands in the hallways between classes, dangle by her knees from the monkey bars during recess, and pull up her skirt during class—all so that the boys could see her underwear.
Madonna achieved global recognition after the release of her second studio album, Like A Virgin, in November 1984. It topped the charts in several countries and became her first number one album on the Billboard 200. It attracted the attention of organizations who complained that the song and its accompanying video promoted premarital sex and undermined family values, and moralists sought to have the song and video banned.
Madonna came under further fire when she performed Like a Virgin at the first 1984 VMA where she appeared on stage atop a giant wedding cake, wearing a wedding dress and white gloves. The performance is noted by MTV as an iconic moment in VMA history.
Madonna doesn’t possess a voice like Whitney Houston’s, or songwriting skills like Janet Joplin’s. Critics have, time and again, commented on her rather mediocre talents. And, she has managed to silence every single one of them by daring to push the envelope and explore outside of the box. Before her, most superstars were male rockers. She paved the way for powerful female popstars! Had it not been for her provocative lyrics, and care-a-damn attitude, women would still, perhaps, be playing second fiddle.
Yes, her music and personality may not be people-pleasing, but she has managed to propel herself to and cement her position as the biggest female artiste of all time. And, it certainly wasn’t easy. She lost her mother to cancer at a very young age, and a lot of her angst and sadness has found an outlet in her music. It is a known fact that Madonna’s use of sexual imagery has benefited her career and catalyzed public discourse on sexuality and feminism. How many artistes can claim to have had such an impact on society?
The Times once wrote that she had “started a revolution amongst women in music ... Her attitudes and opinions on sex, nudity, style and sexuality forced the public to sit up and take notice.” Professor John Fiske noted that the sense of empowerment that Madonna offers is inextricably connected with the pleasure of exerting some control over the meanings of self, of sexuality, and of one’s social relations. Madonna’s unapologetic persona has been at the fore since more than 3 decades now. Why must we then cry foul at her latest act? I’ll tell you why. Because earlier this week a beastly old hag planted a kiss on a hot young rapper. How dare she! She’s old enough to be his mother, cried the whole world! Piers Morgan even had the gall to tweet “50 shades of granny!”
I think it’s high time we left Madonna alone. Her career has always been about pissing people off – whether ribbing the church in her Like a Prayer video or showing the world what was under her wedding dress singing Like A Virgin at the MTV Music Awards in 1984. Her motto is to offend the easily offended. Get it? But nothing Madonna has done seems to have offended people so much as simply getting older, and not doing it the way she’s “supposed to” – presumably by kitting herself out in all-Country Road, kicking back with a sherry and re-releasing her old music with a newer sound.
You don’t find that same sentiment echoing when it comes to lads doing the same thing. Tom Jones released Sex Bomb when he was 58; Rod Stewart’s concerts can feel like being in the steam room with him and his latest bevy of on-stage beauties; Mick Jagger may be doing it in private, but the 71-year-old is currently kissing a dancer young enough to be his granddaughter.
But Madonna has a rack, and it isn’t as perky as it once was… so, attack! The nasty tone of the Madonna backlash feels as much about putting women in their place as it does about her music. It’s about saying, ‘look Madge, it’s fine for you to plant one on Britney and Christina when you’re an intrepid 40-something but don’t you think you’re a little past it?’
But, it’s time the world realised that Madge is anything but appropriate. She does the exact opposite of what’s expected of her and, THAT is her style! Also, she’s not yet retired. The world once loved her for that, and now they don’t. That’s because today, her brand of inappropriate comes with wrinkles and that’s just… yikes!
The author is a snotty single child, mountain junkie, playback singer, Austen addict and dreams of singing alongside Buddy Guy