Monday, February 6th, 2012

Is Madonna Eating Our Young? A Post-Halftime Discussion

Natasha: Okay, what did you think of Techno Roman Madonna and her 13th legion last night?

Julie: Well, to me, Madonna is like the Catholic Church or Penn State. I’ll defend anything she does, even when she's guilty. I’m loyal to the institution.

Natasha: What did you think of her football fruits?

Julie: I thought they were great.

Natasha: DON'T LIE!!

Julie: I thought she should have worn different shoes.

Natasha: This is like when the Catholic Church or Penn State blamed a sex abuse scandal on a couple bad apples!

Julie: The medley was tight, the concepts were good, it looked great and I'd say she sounded great if there was any evidence of her singing live. I like her new song.


Julie: I do.

Natasha: Do I need to provide fossil evidence?

Julie: What is your fossil fuel?

Natasha: WELL. I, too defend Madge against the haters. On message boards, in chat rooms, pool halls and in my prayers. She is an icon and nothing that she can do, ever, will diminish her. And I respect that she didn't burn out into some awful tragedy so as to be forever embalmed in youthful glamor.

Julie: Youthful is the operative term.

Natasha: Like I'm sure if Marilyn lived it would have been GRISLY. But… but… The new song, the pleather gestapo boots, the weird annexation of other lady singers? I am underwhelmed! I think we deserve better! Also, girl, that video was an abooooorsssh.

Julie: You didn't like it when she shot those football players with a gun? After coming out in a trenchcoat, COLUMBINE STYLE?

Natasha: I always support the promiscuous blending of vodka ads and columbine imagery! BUT the video looked cheap and slap-dashed, and tonight's show felt soulless. Like, she turned on the jumbo jet of her fame but not her SOulLlLl

Julie: I'm worried about her youth obsession.

Natasha: Continue. Cuz this is my main complaint with her.

Julie: Well, her insistence on maintaining an exhaustingly current entourage, instead of changing/evolving/ageing, she just switches up the collaborators so they're current. That’s depressing.

Natasha: I think she's out-grown trying to be sexually provocative and sexily antagonistic a la Express Yourself, but now she is lost.

Julie: Well, she wants to be SEXY.

Natasha: Remember her Frozen phase?

Julie: I loved that. I loved Ray of Light. I loved loved Music. Confessions on a Dance Floor is her last GREAT album. I’m just worried about her mosquito in amber ambitions. The skin thing, her hair getting longer. She’s only wearing black, She only lets them shoot her from across the stadium.

Natasha: What would Madonna doing Madonna actually look like now? Without the youthful accessories and shackle shoes?

Julie: I want her to be like Anjelica Huston. But she wants to be a girl, not just a woman.

Natasha: What is ANGELICA? In essence?

Julie: Being beautiful because of a quiet confidence and deep elegance, and loveable and regal and dignified, without worrying about being matronly.

Natasha: I feel like Madge would have been amazing with just two other people and so roman slaves or cartwheeling b-boys.

Natasha: Like THIS:

Julie: She's wearing penny loafers! Compare that to the stiletto boots. She can actually move in those, and those are her real hairs!

Natasha: When did she stop? When did the break come?

Julie: Hard Candy. I think. Some people think it was before that. But I think HUNG UP was amazing.

Natasha: HUNG WAS INCREDIBLE. It felt authentically her! With the leg warmers! And her arms and body hard as rock but still so graceful and feminine.

Julie: I don't think being attractive to straight men is the goal of pop music. But…. when straight men are sort of revolted by you, and have so much hatred and contempt, at least in my twitter feed, you have to step back and say 'why am i hated only in the way that those same guys hate, say, the real housewives who have had extensive plastic surgery?" Because that's the only paralleled vitriol, not including Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. And it has to do with aging poorly. And not conforming to either whore OR mother. She's in between and she hasn't embraced the elder role. And she won't.

Natasha: Where do you think it comes from?

Julie: Her stubborn refusal to age gracefully?

Julie: Fear.

Julie: Anger

Julie: Contempt.

Natasha: Where does the male scorn come from?

Julie: Her lack of concern for an audience different than her essentialists.

Julie: Also she's sinewy and fat free.

Julie: So she's not soft like a fuckable little lithe girl or a mom who feeds you from the breast. I wish the road not taken with her was visible to us. Which was: fat Italian momma.

Julie: Well, her desperation to seem and look young, in a girlish way, with long blonde hair and hot pants and stiletto boots she can't dance in, is hugely unappealing to straight men.

Natasha: Why do you think?

Julie: It telegraphs as "crazy."

Julie: And crazy is poison to straight men. Even coupled with hot, it's unworkable-with.

Julie: She's also NOT THAT OLD! Jane Fonda is in her 70s! Helen Mirren was the hot slut to profess one’s desire to boink recently! Remember how young straight guys would be like "isn't it crazy I want to fuck Helen Mirren?" And you're like oh wow, you're such a feminist.

Natasha: Because she's a perfect model?

Natasha: And has amazing symmetrical features and giant tits?

Natasha: Brave.

Julie: Right. Because she's not 16. And the ladies on my p0rn are!

Natasha: Does Madonna still read as a 'bitch'?

Julie: Madonna has always read as a bitch. But that's not a problem, at least when you're committed and urgent and vital and authentic. It's the falseness that people see in her character. That becomes the problem.

Natasha: But she has that theater bitch thing not that aloof brat thing.

Julie: Aloofness is something she's had to grapple with, post-Evita. And by aloof I mean pretentious. Or being seen as pretentious. It's the only American sin. America HATES pretentiousness more than craziness, greed, pretty much everything. So moving to england, kabbalah, all that didn't help her public image. But by then she didn't care. And then she adopted the black boy. And her charitable efforts read like Jesus juice. Messiah stuff.

Natasha: Well isn't also that she taps into that vital fear that she will suck out your vitality and leave you dry and/or directing Rock n Rolla?

Julie: Yes. That was the Yoko backlash.

Julie: The idea that she made Guy Ritchie a shitty director is so offensive to me. Guy Ritchie had a part in that process.

Natasha: Because he was always terrible?

Julie: If anything, Robert Downie Jr. helped!

Natasha: Are we getting the Madonna we deserve?

Julie: Maybe. (And this is me being kind, because I always will.)

Julie: She's in her first wives club phase. This is her first divorce record, or second if you count Hard Candy. Which was all about being miles away from Guy and having nothing in common. So maybe once she settles, she'll reinvent herself or be more comfortable being alone and perimenopausal?

Julie: But what I think is that her narcissism is so rich that she needs a wreck, like her post-Erotica backlash, in order to come back with a Ray of Light. Like, she came out last night dressed like a Phoenix rising from the ashes… but we haven't burned her down yet. After SEX and EROTICA, America burned her at the stake. And that's what it took for her to come back and be brilliant and genius, and enter her second act with, like, zen realness. She earned her long hair then.

Natasha: Well that is the true mark of Diva, an American Diva, one who suffers torment and mass strife and then soars.


Julie: It's so Catholic. Hmm, in that example, what's her cross to bear? Weight Watchers? Or her family being murdered? Remember when I made that joke? "Poor Jennifer Hudson—her family, and her breasts, are gone"?

Natasha: No but you're a hero for doing so.

Julie: Madge needs to be destroyed, in order to be challenged.

Natasha: Do you think she'll be destroyed for tonight?

Julie: Nope. She played it safe. Her medley was water tight. Those songs are POWERFUL.

Natasha: Remember when she rapped?

Julie: I do yoga and pilates and the room is full of hotties? That was a misstep.

Natasha: That was a fumble. (To couch this in football idioms.)

Julie: Yeah, but she recovered with Confessions. And the Drowned World tour, when she hatched from a disco ball at the top of that show, and danced around with riding crops. Post horse fall? That was some McQueen shit.

Natasha: AH YES. I miss Madonna McQueen. She needs more audacious collaborators.

Julie: She needs to make stars, not use kids. She hangs out with the popular kids. But she IS the popular kid. Stop rotating in Nicki or LMFAO or whoever else. Bring in Candy Darling. Divine. Get a new Jellybean. Break somebody.

Natasha: Is there an icon of her magnitude who has done a similar autumn of her years gracefully?

Julie: Cher. Even though her surgery cuts off criticism at the pass because of her blunt authenticity. Her consistency, unlike Madonna's, is not desperation. She's like the Anjelica of pop music. Cher's sense of humor also cuts any sense of pretentiousness. Like, Cher's won a fucking Oscar.

Natasha: TWO!

Julie: Well.

Natasha: Also: Chaz Bono.

Julie: I can't even start. But look at Cher.

Natasha: I ALWAYS AM.

Julie: Cher will do something like Burlesque, and nobody will throw pigs blood tweets at her. That's because she has a sense of humor about herself. She's completely consistent with her goals and her attitudes. She does sarcasm well. And she just "seems" really authentic.

Julie: Although Madonna HAS begun smiling more in her performances, which is weird.

Natasha: Madge has always been a bit brittle in the self-deprecating department?

Julie: She smiled like three times tonight.

Natasha: I noticed that!

Julie: She's trying to be playful. I don't like Madonna in whimsy mode. But her smiling is her only hat tip to aging, I think.


Julie: It's one of the smallest things you can do to seem less menacing. But unless you're Dame Maggie Smith, aka HILARIOUS, you have to smile.

Natasha: Tell that to the NYT autism kids.

Julie: Oh I would love to. I would love to spend my time explaining Madonna to autistic children. Anyway, so look. Warhol died young. Gaga is on a meth pace. She's on a broadband track to this pop stardom/ art thing. Madonna is a living GREAT ARTIST and there are burdens to that. Look at, like, Lou Reed. Look at HIS collaboration lately!

Natasha: No. I can't.

Natasha: Don't make me.

Julie: But… look at Almodovar

Natasha: OK!

Julie: Or, look at Woody Allen. That guy still gets blow jobs from the Academy because of Annie Hall.

Natasha: He's gonna get a slobbery one in two weeks come Midnight in Paris' original screenplay winnnn.

Julie: It's the least we can do to give Madonna a pass for a great medley she kind of paced through in bad shoes because of, like, literally, pick JUST ONE SONG.

Julie: Annie Hall —> Express Yourself.

Julie: Crimes & Misdemeanors—> La Isla Bonita.

Julie: Hannah & Her Sisters—>Vogue.

Julie: You get it. And I hated Midnight in Paris. I enjoyed Hard Candy more.

Natasha: So you think she can hop back on?

Julie: I hope she can and I will be there for everything she ever does. And I will always root for her and I will always be here to defend her. But I fear she may need to be shot down to a lowness before she resurrects with the potential I still believe she has, and always will have.

Natasha: Amen.

Julie: Just one more thing. She uses young people now in the way bell hooks accused her of using queer people and people of color in Truth or Dare: both as accessories and sources from which to steal. The youth around her, now, draw attention to her flaws—AND NOT PHYSICAL ONES. (I mean, if one more fat straight guy makes fun of her appearance on twitter… Jesus. Like you're the French guy from The Artist??) So I don't mean her skin or her face or arms or whatever. I mean her soul flaw, which is stubborness, falseness, and contempt.

Natasha: Her soul holes.

Julie: Her little monsters are her collaborators. She's so distant from her fans at this point they don't even get an acknowledgment.

Natasha: I agree, I think that's why it's been particularly difficult to watch the whole Nicki and MIA collaboration. Those two women, you can say a lot about how much planning goes into their image and how much of a construction it all is but those constructions are working.

Natasha: Resonating. It was weird to watch them have to be stilted in her presence.

Julie: Yes.

Natasha: Madge doesn't need to pull from their fires but it seemed like an intentional dimming.

Natasha: Or as they say… THROWING SHADE.

Julie: Yes! Paris is burning after all.

Julie Klausner and Natasha Vargas-Cooper still believe.

45 Comments / Post A Comment

Lolagranola (#78,879)

Ye gods, I just had the Paris is Burning conversation re: Madonna not 5 minutes before I read this. And my gender studies degree was so long ago I could barely remember why or whozit or what the hell I was saying. bell hooks. All starts and end with her. ❤

Kakapo (#2,312)

@Lolagranola A friend of mine accidentally killed Jenny Livingston's plant while housesitting for her, and she was kind of psychotic about it. Great documentary, but that is all I can think about that brat.

Danzig! (#5,318)

@Lolagranola bell hooks forever

throwaway style (#8,213)

THIS. Perfect. Thank you. (stop reading my mind grapes)

BoHan (#29)

So you're suggesting that Madonna can put on a pop concert appropriate for Madonna's age by wearing sensible shoes and a nice Ann Taylor suit? Sorry, not getting it. What is wrong with just letting people do what the hell they want when they want and no matter how old they are? Minors excepted.

bombed_pop (#10,642)

@BoHan Gaultier, not Ann Taylor.

deepomega (#1,720)

@BoHan Uhhhh I mean I don't think they're suggesting knee-high pleather stilettos be like federally licensed or anything. But to act like age doesn't change a public figure's relationship to criticism is silly! Again: see Woody Allen.

BoHan (#29)

@bombed_pop No, Ann Taylor. I was thinking NVC wasn't truly serious that a Gualtier bustier constituted age-appropriate clothing.

zidaane (#373)

Some guys are attracted to crazy. Just not old and crazy.

LondonLee (#922)

I know, I was gonna say. I've dated a crazy-and-beautiful before and so have several other blokes I know and you stick with them because the sex is usually fantastic. But then the crying, late-night phone calls, drunken meltdowns, and jumping-into-swimming-pools-fully-clothed gets a bit tiring and you move on to cute-and-sensible.

zidaane (#373)

@LondonLee Crazy sex is the best. I've risked knives thrown to be around it.

Kakapo (#2,312)

@zidaane Thank you. Granted, I am a bisexual man, but I've never known anyone of any gender or persuasion that didn't find crazy a big turn-on.

bitzyboozer (#6,867)

@zidaane I just assumed there was an implied "in the long term" at the end of that statement. Because otherwise it makes no sense.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Here I was thinking I was the only one who liked Hung Up.

Claire Zulkey (#7,101)

"It's the falseness that people see in her character. That becomes the problem."

This. A perfect example is Madonna purring "Boring old chestnut" during that recent interview in re: her relationship with that younger guy. Lady, you control, with an iron fist, every single aspect of your image. That's cool. But don't act like you don't.

I resent that her whole image is set up so that I feel like I'm supposed to be some pearl-clutching hater if I feel she comes off as a rather unpleasant person. But at the same time, she's entertained the hell out of me over the years so I can't deny that.

Bittersweet (#765)

@Claire Zulkey: I resent that her whole image is set up so that I feel like I'm supposed to be some pearl-clutching hater if I feel she comes off as a rather unpleasant person.

I know, right? And yet she does seem so unpleasant. Her spiel against Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes was less fun banter and more some high-maintenance aristo belittling the hired help.

Danzig! (#5,318)

@Claire Zulkey Lady, you control, with an iron fist, every single aspect of your image.

She can sure as hell try, but she hasn't always been successful.

lawyergay (#220)

Roman Art Garfunkel working that tightrope stole the show for me. Also Minaj. She's irrepressible and is already on the express train to Superstar Junction.

laurel (#4,035)

@lawyergay Garfunkel is exactly right. He couldn't be any Garfunkelier.

Danzig! (#5,318)

@lawyergay If they'd just let her release EPs instead of albums (and LET HER RAP GOOD GOD) she would be! But aside from "Superbass" there's been an alarming lack of solo awesome from Minaj.

LondonLee (#922)

It was a rather empty spectacle really, something that big and absurd should at least have been camp fun but it just sort of went in one eye and out the other.

BadUncle (#153)

Bring back marching bands.

I guess the obvious thing for me re Madonna show was that this was the Superbowl. Previous halftime shows….
The Who
Rolling Stones
Black Eyed Peas on a neon diet
Also, if she did fall at some point, we would have loved her more for it.

This was like Madonna playing at the Family for Conservative Nazi Values rally. I think she pulled it off and gave us a little something closer to entertainment for us that don't own a country music collection.

laurel (#4,035)

@FuriousNewYork If you love the pageantry and homoeroticism, wait'll you see the half time show!

@laurel wait. Wasn't that the superbowl? Madonna beat off other 50 something performers for the spot?

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

@FuriousNewYork Pretty sure her days of beating off anything for anything other than her own whim are well behind her.

Also! do not be afraid of country music. I wouldn't start with the current country chart, but even there you might find something you like — The Band Perry, say, or Dierks Bentley… maybe.

@dntsqzthchrmn I know, my cheap shot with country music is that I hate the current stuff I guess. Johnny Cash playing the Superbowl lipsynched by Johnny Depp would work!

Tulletilsynet (#333)

@dntsqzthchrmn @FuriousNewYork
If the Earl Brothers played the Super Bowl, I might watch it.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

Saying Madonna has a "soul flaw" of "stubbornness, falseness and contempt" is like saying high-fructose corn syrup is made from corn. READ THE FUCKING LABEL. She is made from corn, that is the only point of having her, you voted for the subsidy.

Jasons_Johnson (#3,341)

@Tulletilsynet came for obvious clamoring, left with comparison between Madonna and HFC. Double plus win for you!

I would have liked her Blonde Ambition Like A Virgin on the bed dry humping though just to see what the hell it would look like.

David (#192)

Julie says "I want her to be like Anjelica Huston. But she wants to be a girl, not just a woman." Isn't this to confuse the performer with the person? Like Dolly Parton, Madonna knows what her fans expect of her, so she gives it to them, in abundance.

If she chooses to, I hope she keeps this up for another 40-50 years (at least), and book the Café Carlyle.

@David I am enthusiastically looking forward to Madonna wearing a Jean Louis type transparent rhinestone studded space suit croaking out a disco arrangement of "Is That All There Is" at the Cafe Carlyle or whatever the then current Cafe Carlyle is in 40-50 years.

NancyDrew (#16,424)

I love her, and I thought the whole thing was kind of awesome although I did laugh my ass off at the WORLD PEACE at the end. As far as the shoes, I thought she was stiff because she pulled a hamstring. I don't know, what was she supposed to do about that?

I agree that this doesn't hold a candle to some of her other performances, but people seem to forget that this was a halftime show and thus very halftime showish. Big, cheesy, sparkly, medley driven.

I'm sick of hearing about her age (eating our young. Hi-lar-ious!!) Madonna is younger than four of the past six halftime performers but no one makes a deal out of Mick Jagger's tight pants or tells Tom Petty to stop wearing the same greasy hairstyle he's had for the past 20 years.

laurel (#4,035)

@NancyDrew Or mocks Prince's double hip replacement.

@NancyDrew "I thought she was stiff because she pulled a hamstring. I don't know, what was she supposed to do about that?"

Um, she was in a stadium with 2 pro football teams. It's not like she had no access to pain killers.

For the record I loved the "Liz Taylor memorial Cleopatra while Fox sells off it's back lot entrance."

pepper (#676)

@NancyDrew It is giving me great pleasure to imagine Madonna asking the Pats' trainer for a cortisone shot and an ice bath.

hman (#53)

"sinewy and fat free" – or, How to Cook a Terrible Fucking Steak

"So maybe once she settles, she'll reinvent herself or be more comfortable being alone and perimenopausal?"

Perimenopausal?! Um, I think you mean, menopausal or even post-menopausal. She's 53. The average age of American menopause is 51.

llamallama (#213,791)

Sorry, but I have to object to the Jennifer Hudson reference. That woman is the only person I ever want to hear sing the Star Spangled Banner. She has more talent than *anyone* who was up on that halftime stage and certainly deserves to be protected from body‐ and, um, murder‐snark. And on the latter bit, wtf is wrong with you? Seriously. Disgusting.

mandanza@twitter (#213,801)

Hung Up, ugghh. Every time I hear that song I'm just angry that I'm not listening to Gimme Gimme Gimme. The first time I heard it, I thought, "wtf, she jacked the music for Gimme Gimme Gimme and put like six unenthusiastically sung words over it?"

Now I listen to it and, okay, it has more than six words. But it's no Gimme Gimme Gimme. Don't remind me of that song so forcefully if you're not going to give me something as good or better, y'know?

(Confession: I love disco. I also love 80s Madonna. Her most recent singles has not resonated with me; they felt meaningless and somewhat soulless, just generic pop, whatever. But I also haven't listened to a full album of hers since Music, so maybe there were some hidden gems I missed out on?)

jackgla (#213,868)

Mmm isin't she too old for that now

EmmaJane (#213,967)

PARIS IS BURNING reference, omg. Seriously. Right back to Theory of Feminism class senior year of college. Great documentary about voguing.

JoshUng (#11,371)

Even if the only people who liked this performance were the "special guests," it may be the most popular halftime show of the decade.

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