I have been thinking of how to write about someone of whom there is so much public written text, video footage and images, who is an icon and idol for many and has been since the eighties having made an impact on all culture, impact which is lasting and profound even though she is seen as an artist shallow and her art commercial fluff. I have been wondering the monotonous ways of journalists who ask the same questions about diet, workout and relationships. Wondering how does she, Madonna, deal with these walls of public figures which are magazine covers, walls for celebrities to answer and stand for and in front year after year for them, those curtains, charades and masks never to change because that is what the public supposedly wants: images of perfection, success and how to get there, information and instructions to achieve the same. To be like Madonna, to look like her, own her, her composure and grit, way of life.
For your information: you will not find the same, she is unique as are you. You have to be you not her, the unique you. This is too what magazines and pop culture tell, in their own way, but still it does not appear to be the wanted result, reality what is happening but something homogeneous which mass is keeping pop alive, choosing the pop as background noise and inspiration. This desire and need for uniqueness I understand is also one of Madonna’s messages, to find your true self despite the mass, stand behind that creation which is you and your nature, find it via exploration and expression against intolerant mass and society. Non-intellectual ways of magazines, the repetitiveness and glossiness, hiding something everyday gray perhaps, entertainment industry as a whole have constantly minimized women into bodies who achieve, look like and reach out for perfect womanhood, a repetition from which it is extremely difficult to break away, womanhood and life which are defined and kept alive as long as no one wants it to change because something is ready and good in that picture, womanhood truly and for good to alter into something else is an infinite task. What else could it be? Celebrities who without wanting to decline to answer questions like what do they eat, how do they marry and date, questions about what and who are they wearing, how they live keep such culture of frivolous contents alive, contents that have tremendous effect on all culture around. Celebrities and entertainment very much tell what people shall want, defining trends, what people shall become interested in buying and dreaming about. This sounds like people would be an automaton that follow those with means, looks, charisma and PR to create a tale of wealth, success and beauty for our eyes, create needs via trends and stories. Big stars as Madonna have an important role in making commercial space as culture, culture as commercial space and it has been astounding how easily her work is diminished into only that sellable object, how much provocation is part of her work and what are the things that provoke. How does she do it, is it her who is doing it all, pushing buttons because they are there to be pushed? What is her secret other than knowing the soft spots in our consciousness and Western culture? Did I already say it, her, is she visible, her power there to be taken and exploited? She is not that easy, though her music is thought to be something light and nothing to consider as art and her way of using media for her benefit is out-of-order. For a woman to take benefit financially and be a business woman is still almost a taboo, could she be admired for that? She is not on the same level with guys when it comes to thinking what kind of business mind and maker she is in making money.
She uses her looks and body to promote her career. That is what women have to do to make it big in pop and in music, that is what they are expected to do and talk about. Women are their sex and their bodies that define them, give them leverage and a place to stand on. To be as provocative and outspoken as Madonna is a different matter although she persistently is placed in this worn out box of pop singers who deal with publicity in the same way, telling certain things of themselves. Themselves being the centerpieces who want to be adored. Most of them stick to that mode not knowing how to leave, change that pattern of theirs or wanting to change it because it is lucrative. Some do it for the fame and money. Some use their position to change the world as it is sexist, misogynist, conservative and hateful in many ways and against many minorities and ethnic groups. To play the game which is there with certain rules for women and men is still not doing what it takes to be famous. One has to have something that makes one stick out and be able to use that characteristic to one’s benefit, such as large derriere, beautiful face and figure. It is quite enough as photography is one of the most successful techniques in use. Lure of images especially images of ourselves is what keeps us fascinated, need to show oneself to the world and be adored as such. To be adored by many for one’s appearance can be one dream. Is it enough to be adored as a beauty icon? Could that icon say something irregular and out of context? Do something that would cause a scandal for the sake of changing the game of what we are supposed to be and see?
How could commercial place, which is the world, be a place for provocation, art and female emancipation? To ask it means it is not self-evident, not allowed because fear of losing money is real. By irritating customers, causing appall and shame would be bad for business and fear of not making profit is great. It is the greatest fear, losing. Such fear is hindering progress on many levels. Madonna was the progress in the eighties when she emerged at MTV music awards gala and performed Like a virgin with highly sexual meaningful way doing a choreography that was unheard of and unseen for a massive audience in the US making sexually explicit performance that rose the bar of what musical performance in pop could be. The question of what is she doing was at right place. Female singer showing a clear scene of having sex to the stage, her veil and rolling on stage with pleasure.
What is Like a virgin now after many version Madonna has given us? Shameless ode to female sexual pleasure still. It has been strange how she has had to fight also with feminists when her work has been testing and braking boundaries of what is proper and what kinds of issues and themes female singer can use in her art and how say and show the unspoken shameful damaging truth and desire there is, how she can be a sex object and subject of her own making, personification of a stereotypical sex object playing with the idea and how much she herself is in charge of her highly sexual image?