Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Madonna, Super Bowl, Ageism


It is time for me to address Madonna’s Super Bowl performance. I must say, I really enjoyed it and think she did quite well. She certainly has an eye for detail and keeps up to date with modern staging far more than her younger contemporaries. Is Madonna the greatest dancer? The greatest singer? No. She’ll never have Janet or Michael’s razor-sharp moves, and she’ll never have Whitney or Celine’s voices, but she possesses a little bit of everything. She is a jack of all trades, master of none, but she works hard enough on her voice and dancing to make the most of her natural talents in both areas. Yes, she slipped once or twice, but even Beyoncé, an incredibly gifted dancer, has slipped multiple times in concert (see below). It’s difficult to dance in heels on stairs, not to mention faux-risers. Regardless of how skilled a performer one is, s/he will fall eventually. Most importantly, Madonna looked like she was having fun on stage. She smiled. You can tell she genuinely enjoys performing, and her energy is palpable, even through the television screen.


Madonna is a more conscientious performer than Rihanna will ever be, and I feel as though Rihanna wouldn’t receive even half of the insults thrown Madonna’s way after the halftime show. This brings me to my next point: the blatant ageism I find so incredibly offensive. I've seen it from acquaintances and celebrities alike. Someone on Facebook wrote, “not quite sure if I am horrified or in shock at this halftime show with Madonna.” Seriously? You’re horrified? The British rapper, Professor Green, tweeted “Somebody please just ask Madonna to put some clothes on? She can sing when she's 80, it's not her voice I find offensive.” Really, Professor? You don’t seem to be offended when it’s a 20-something writhing half-naked next to you on (and off) stage. People act like Madonna’s strutted across the stadium nude, when in fact, she was EXTREMELY covered up. The only bits of skin visible were between the end of the sleeves on her T-shirt dress and the long gloves she wore, as well as the spaces between her skirt and thigh high boots. That adds up two four bits of visible skin, each of which didn’t exceed six inches in length. I actually expected her to show some more flesh, seeing as she is MADONNA! As stage outfits go, hers was rather conservative.

With all that said, Madonna does not own her age, so how are others are expected to respect her as an older woman in POP? While watching her most recent video for the new single, “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” I felt as though she was trying to compete with Rihanna. I wanted to scream at her, “You don’t need to compete with Rihanna. You are SO MUCH MORE, both as a contributor to POP culture/POP art and as performer, than RiRi can ever hope to be.” It wasn’t the way that Madonna was dressed; rather, it was the way she carried herself. She twisted her hips around like a 20-year-old idiot at a frat party while holding a baby doll on her boob (which she thankfully did NOT bring to the Super Bowl). I don’t feel that I’m being ageist, because I equally dislike this behavior from the 20-year-old Rihanna sorority crowd. Acting juvenile isn’t any more acceptable or attractive when coming from someone who is actually juvenile (a little something I call Psi Sigma Stupid). I like Madonna as a fierce, ferocious woman, like she was in the Open Your Heart, Vogue, Justify My Love, and Human Nature videos. (Do you remember the line in Human Nature, "Would you like me better if I was a man?") Those clips are representative of her early career. Though she was young, she was always undeniably mature, elegant, regal, and poised, no matter how much (or little) she was wearing. The same applies to the videos/songs from Madonna's Ray of Light yoga queen era, American Life army sergeant phase, and Confessions on a Dance Floor disco ballerina period, the latter of which was masterful. From the very beginning, it was her composure that made her a class act.

Unfortunately, it seems as though she’s trying to regress into something she never was for the sake of staying relevant, when the fact is, she will ALWAYS be relevant, as she is an ICON with hits and pop-cultural impact in every decade since her debut. Madonna acted as a POP trailblazer for feminism; why can’t she do the same for the anti-ageist movement? She has the potential to, once again, impact culture from a brand new vantage point, teaching our society that one can be overtly sexual AND powerful as an older human being. Instead, she desperately tries to remain youthful, constantly getting plastic surgery (allegedly - I think her eyes were stretched onto a northern area of her forehead) instead of redefining what it means to be sexy by saying “You can be a HOT, beautiful and powerful wrinkly older woman (or man!)  without resorting to the idiotic, infantile tactics of the young!” How great would that be? She could empower an older generation that has been disgraced and suppressed by our youth-centric society. Since her divorce from Guy Ritchie, she’s continually dated 20-something year old men, saying “age is just a number.” If that were true, her romantic/sexual exploits would be sampled from every age bracket, yet they’re not, so clearly age is NOT just a number to her. Go to a therapist, woman, and learn to OWN YOUR AGE in the same way you’ve owned your gender and sexuality. You could still better our society through pop-culture if you took the same risks you did earlier in your career with regard to sexuality and feminism.

My point in writing all of this is to stop people from making simplistic, mindless judgments. If you feel a certain way about someone, recognize the pros and cons and explain your sentiments. Don’t just insult someone to entertain yourself. By doing so, you’re only adding to our world’s omnipresent vapidity. This is something that I need to learn as well, so let’s do so together, shall we?

Unapologetically,

Gregory

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