Hung up, or Off the Hook ??
Madonna has always confused me. I've never been a devoted fan, nor have I loathed everything she stood for. Instead I've always been sort of in the middle; admiring her for lasting so long in a fickle industry and feeling uncomfortable at her reliance on sex to divert attention from her music.
However the current Madonna 2005-2006 incarnation is starting to look a little sad to me. From a musical standpoint she hit her low with 'Music' - the worst 'non song' since the 1982 original version of the Sakata rice cracker song, until the release of 'Hung Up'. The riffing from Abba's 1979 hit 'Gimme Gimme Gimme' was tragic, just tragic. Madonna came to notice in 1983; several years after the demise of Abba who were then regarded as the musical equivalent of gastro from both ends. For Madge to use them in 2006 screams of a total lack of new musical ideas and shows the meaningless of her efforts. Why does she still do it - her stuff is hardly original; more like an electronic bag of scattered rat droppings, so it can't be because she feels inspired or somehow destined to send out an important message.
Is it for the money? Surely the couple of billion she'd already have stashed away would be enough to see her through to the last forty or so years of life and give her bloke Guy enough pin money to make the occasional Razzie award contender? At forty seven, she would be only three years away from taking a voluntary redundancy package if she was here in Australia: beavering away in a cosy government bureaucracy and looking forward to buying a caravan and 4WD and tootling up the east coast.
Perhaps she loathes her own children. We can all identify with that one, but surely only for an hour or two each day. OK, so Lourdes might have scribbled on an original Cezanne, but it'll come off with a gentle wipe of the chux. Rocco might have pooped on the ancient Persian rug but a good soak in hot water and palmolive and no-one would ever know the difference. As an older child, Lourdes would no doubt be bustled off to her exclusive boarding school by a nanny, and Rocco would have his own daily companion as well, so Mad or Guy would hardly be hassled over drop-off and pick-up times or what the little tikes would like to eat for dinner. Nanny would be popping them to bed with a goodnight story whilst Mads was doing her 857th stomach crunch in preparation for her next video. She's a gal - sorry, mature woman - with her priorities right.
Maybe I've been a bit too harsh. She's held up as a feminist icon still - a woman not afraid to be sexual and proud, to speak out, to change her look and to bravely challenge the unfair ideal that only the young can be style-setters and attractive. But, and it's a rather big but - how much more of her is there left to see - internal organs? Soles of her feet? Uterine walls?
We know that she doesn't need the money; has all the help she could possibly need for her children and various homes; has a husband who loves her and a body you could crack walnuts on. What she so obviously does still need is attention. Attention not only from her original fans, but also their younger siblings or even their own children. The attention of the world, even.
God forbid she should enter her fifties as Rachel Welch did: fake funbags painfully spilling out of every frock she had on, even to visit the post office. Joan Collins; relying on wigs, corsets and industrial-strength polyfilla to convince us that she was barely forty. Or Priscilla Presley, whose mind was so poisoned by hair dye she allowed her plastic surgeon to roll back the years by inserting a coat hanger around her mouth.....
Is Madonna in love with the idea of, well, herself? This sleeve picture from her latest album doesn't exactly suggest any lack of confidence in her own appearance. Would she be comfortable with her own daughter seeing this - a series of photos that send the message that body/beauty worship is the most important thing in life.
And, dare I ask this question - is Madonna really, honestly, truly and genuinely considered to be sexy? I've always found her to be a bit dominatrix-like; successfully channelling a cold war Eastern European gymnastics teacher on the prowl for a Hungarian hammer thrower. The pointy bras, cigar smoking and all of 'Erotica' only served to cement this view. What about her today? Sexy, or botoxed and airbrushed? And at what expense - hours and hours and hours of time working out, toning up, flexing, stepping, running, dancing, stretching per day to maintain the physique. Not exactly contributing to family time or deep thinking, is it? Or perhaps that's not sexy......