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    I’m not the same / I have no shame

    You know what I love about Madonna? She’s fearlessly delusional (via non-Pryhill Ace; the New York Daily News has the full report here):

    Despite her many homes, the former Material Girl says she has renounced “the material world. The physical world. The world of illusion, that we think is real. We live for it, we’re enslaved by it. And it will ultimately be our undoing.”

    Reading from Scripture at one point in the film, the mother of two — who won’t let her children watch TV or eat ice cream — says, “I refer to an entity called ‘The Beast.’ I feel I am describing the world that we live in right now.”

    Dude, that’s, like, all kinds of profound and stuff. You can take the girl out of Los Angeles….

    One thing that annoys me, though: can we please stop referring to Madonna as “the former Material Girl”? I know that asking journalists to avoid shallow, jingle-like formulations is like asking Joan Rivers to avoid plastic surgery, but “Material Girl” was a single song. It was neither her first hit nor her biggest hit; she never so much as named a concert tour after it. The frame story for the video sent up the lyrics. Of course, Madonna made a lot of money and was doubtless happy about it, but her image and music were always much more about self-reliance and self-definition than about money-grubbing or acquisitiveness. The mass audience would have tired of her very quickly if there’d been nothing to her but sexual and religious button-pushing. One of the ways The Immaculate Collection was a botch job as a greatest hits album–in addition to that horrible Q Sound engineering and the tacky remixes–was in omitting hits such as “Angel,” “Who’s That Girl,” and “True Blue.” A lot of the time Madonna was ruling the airwaves, it was with unassuming, straightforward songs about romantic yearning, not the controversy-courting blockbusters.

    It remains to be seen whether the new album will get us lifelong fans back to swooning; it’s hard to imagine not topping American Life. Assuming her newfound loftiness hasn’t dampened her sensuality, we should be okay.

    12 Responses to “I’m not the same / I have no shame”

    1. Eric Scheie says:

      Shame can be a shameless game of pretend, can’t it?

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Especially when it’s celebrity breast-beating.

    3. Alice says:

      “her image and music were always much more about self-reliance and self-definition than about money-grubbing or acquisitiveness”

      OK, I’ll give you that, but I still think she can’t sing and (far more importantly) thinks she can, which I find unforgivable.

      However, it would transform my entire worldview to be happy about Madonna, so any counter-arguments thoroughly welcome.

    4. Alice says:

      P.S. Obviously the same is true of many other singers, but I don’t mind if they either a) shrug about it, or b) are just too dumb to realise. Madonna is neither.

    5. Connie says:

      Patti LuPone she is not. She should be convicted for murdering Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina. Sorry, can’t stand her, as in “run across the room and sprain my ankle to turn her off, but the ankle pain is the better than her” kind of can’t stand.

      Add to the “can’t stand” list many who can’t sing, but torture us anyway:

      Dylan (OMG, kill that man!)

      Sinatra (The hunt the note King)

      Whitney Houston (she makes my eye twitch)

      Give me Aretha, Etta, Harry Connick Jr, or give me death.

    6. Sean Kinsell says:

      I know–the thing is, the whole “Gosh, I’m a real singer after all!” crap only started after Madonna got that vocal coach for Evita. Before that, she was perfectly content to be a pop star with a flawed voice and lots of personality. Of course, that’s not to everyone’s taste, either, but as Alice says, it has the virtue of candor and self-awareness.

      Connie, Harry Connick, Jr., drives me nuts; but I’ll obviously second you on Aretha and Etta. The whole Whitney/Mariah/Celine/Christina method of ladling on melisma until you can’t remember how the hell the melody was supposed to go never did anything for me. I’ll take, say, Taylor Dayne, who gleefully bludgeoned notes and made no pretenses to soul, any day.

      Added at 18:35: And while we’re on the subject of people who can’t sing, I just remembered my least favorite in world history: Rickie Lee effing Jones. Who. The. Hell. decided that she was some kind of genius innovator? Man, she annoys me. Has ever since I was a little kid.

    7. Maria says:

      Regardless of whether Madonna is a “true” singer or not, she’ll always hold a place in my heart as part of my adolescent memories. I confess, I can’t be terribly objective because of that fact.

      Dylan’s success is quite an anomaly in our “must be beautiful, must carry a tune,” times. And, I love it when that rarity occurs. I find his songwriting interesting. I found it especially interesting to discover that a lot of the songs we learned in 3rd grade music class were written by him and other folkie-activists.

      Harry Connick, Jr. better than Sinatra??!! BLEAH!

      Give me ol’ blue eyes, anyday. The rest, Tony Bennett, HCJ, etc., are all fawning Sinatra-wanna-be’s…

    8. Alice says:

      And all this fake Horsey Lady Of The English Country Manor stuff too… it’s just so… American. She’ll be buying a disused title next, and believing in it.

    9. Sean Kinsell says:

      Maria, we had a fair number of Woody Guthrie/Pete Seeger songs in music class when I was little, but I don’t think any Dylan. Do you remember what it was?

      Alice, the whole fake-aristocrat thing is, to my mind, so over-the-top ludicrous that it’s now funny (especially combined with the renunciation of the material world–if there’s any more archetypal American fantasy about the sumptuous good life than living on an English country estate, as you say, I’ve never heard of it). At least she’s gone the whole way and completed the fantasy by moving to England, unlike, say, Ralph Lauren.

    10. Alice says:

      That is true, and she is finding out what it really means as well, for instance horses are dangerous and you fall off them a lot and you have to be tough enough not to mind, which is why the English upper classes traditionally educate their kids by making them go to boarding schools with no central heating and early-morning runs around the field.

      Would love to see what happened if she met Camilla Parker-Bowles on the polo field, though.

    11. Maria says:

      Didn’t Dylan write “Blowin’ in the Wind”? We also sang Seeger and Guthrie tunes.

    12. Sean Kinsell says:

      Maybe Madonna thought she had an advantage because she was trained as a dancer–you know, she’s normally in control of her physical movements and things. The thing is, she’s notoriously bad at anything that requires ceding control to someone else–it’s one of the reasons she’s usually such a stupefyingly bad actress. I have no problem seeing her going all control-freak on her horse and not establishing such a great rapport.

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