Friday, February 3, 2012

Madonna: Leader & Misleader

On the very rare occasions that history & POP music overlap, a little part of me jumps for joy. Madonna's new movie, W.E., is such a circumstance.

Everyone knows that Madonna is back this year - album, single, Superbowl performance and all. And since Madonna is back, so is her ego. Most Madonna fans laugh off any scathing, blatant, or untrue remarks Madonna makes to the mainstream media, as "aw, good ol' Madonna!" as though her unbridled self-righteousness is merely a harmless aspect of the POP star persona. This tactic has never worked for me, though I respect Madonna as an artist.

W.E. coincides with Madonna's big POP comeback. The film centers around the famous American socialite and divorcee Bessie Wallis Warfield, otherwise known Wallis Simpson, with whom King Edward VIII fell in love, eventually abdicating the throne to marry her. Madonna seems to have taken quite a fancy for the Wallis character. "I love her," she gushed during her recent interview on 20/20. Madonna seems to view Wallis Simpson as a vastly misunderstood woman who found herself "trapped" in a world of "decadence." Her effort to portray Wallis as an imperfect human being is commendable. Yet, during "years of research," Madonna never came across any "evidence" of Wallis being a Nazi sympathizer.

Oh dear... There Madonna goes again?

Sorry guys, not this time. Her behavior shouldn't just be laughed off as "good ol' Madonna." These statements are very irresponsible at a time when regular teachers, professors, & historians everywhere are struggling to keep World War II relevant to a new and highly irreverent generation of students.

Wallis & Edward with German chancellor Adolf Hitler.
Let's get this straight: Madonna is not dissuaded by Wallis and Edward's high-profile visit to Adolf Hitler in 1937 (above), nor Ms. Simpson's public friendships with Nazi advisers, nor Simpson's alleged affair with Joachim von Ribbentrop, who was charged with war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials (for which he was convicted & hanged). The fact that Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt distrusted Wallis and Edward's pro-German politics does not resonate with her. Oh, and remember the numerous documents on Wallis' Nazi connections released by the FBI in 2003? Madonna dismisses the FBI as "notorious liars." Clearly, reality doesn't seem to be important to Madonna... Nor does the fact that her new movie is basically reducing political history to the level of Hollywood gossip.

Perhaps W.E. reveals the most disturbing fact of all: that POP stars can live pitifully and blissfully detached from reality.

Madonna, we're thrilled that the Windsor romance captured your imagination and inspired you to write a film... but just admit that W.E. depicts Wallis as you & only you perceive her! Try it out loud. Practice it in the mirror. I promise it's not as hard as it seems.

As for the rest us, let's appreciate Madonna's wisdom where it lies: in her iconic POP career and knee-jerk dance moves. As for the big questions of historical or political relevance... please, trust your teachers. At 53, they may look at bit different than Madonna does, but I promise you, they are all the wiser for it.



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