You can’t craft a career like Madonna’s without playing the media … and us.
The Material Girl never had the best voice or the most seductive hooks. She boasted a little of everything – an attractive figure, a radio-friendly sound and lyrics that nailed the zeitgeist.
Her greatest talent? Knowing how to grab people by the scruff of their necks. By that measure, she had few peers.
Time hasn’t dulled that instinct.
The superstar, globally adored and with all the resources western society can offer, is now a professional victim at the tender age of 64. She’s following in the footsteps of Meghan Markle, who proved you can claim victimhood status no matter your wealth, beauty or privilege.
— New York Post (@nypost) February 8, 2023
Madonna introduced future Grammy winners Sam Smith and Kim Petras on Sunday’s Grammy telecast. Viewers may have been shocked by what they saw, and it had nothing to do with the Satanic showcase the pop duo performed.
Madonna looked puffy and distorted, her face impossibly smooth. it didn’t take a plastic surgeon to note the singer has had some work done. Memories of the late Joan Rivers’ face floated to mind, as did fellow pop superstar Michael Jackson.
So Twitter did what Twitter always does … weigh in on the subject with less than kind results.
It’s only natural. Her fans knew her best during her provocative youth, a time when she flashed her curves and cleavage on MTV and elsewhere. She literally penned a book entitled, “Sex” and worked out feverishly to stay youthful and lean.
And it worked.
Her sexuality became integral to her brand, her songcraft. That’s hard to leave behind as the calendar pages pass.
So Madonna, like many stars before her, medically delayed the inevitable.
Now, as the public reacts to her decision, she’s going on the offensive. She refused to age gracefully, and now her detractors must be punished.
The world is threatened by my power and my stamina. My intelligence and my will to survive.
But they will never break me
this is all the test. pic.twitter.com/XvcaaG0Rrs
— Madonna (@Madonna) February 7, 2023
The media quickly took up her cause du jour. Reporters echoed her cries of “ageism,” even though many chuckled as comedians taunted President Donald Trump for his skin color and coif.
The New York Times contorted itself into a pretzel to say Madonna’s visage was the singer’s latest blasts of performance art, empowering to the end.
…whatever her intentions, the superstar has gotten us talking about how good looks are subjective and how ageism is pervasive. In the end, whether she meant to make a statement or just to look younger, better, “refreshed,” almost doesn’t matter. If beauty is a construct, Madonna’s the one who put its scaffolding on display.
Vogue, the magazine, not the name of Madonna’s perky smash, similarly rallied to her side.
Instead of focusing on her rousing speech, however, which was all to do with radical self-acceptance and celebrating those who don’t conform, news outlets and the Twitterverse alike decided to hone in on her “unrecognizable” appearance amidst thinly veiled accusations of extreme plastic surgery. And, true to form, Madonna is having none of it.
Broadcast TV reports followed suit.
Liberal tastemakers couldn’t turn on the pop princess, at least not yet. She’s been an “ally” for all the correct causes, from abortion to LGBTQ+ Nation. Scribes will twist and turn, as needed, to have her back.
Here’s why they’re wrong.
Madonna could have been brave by embracing her wrinkles and defying beauty norms.
“Hey world, this is 64, and I’m loving every second of it.”
That would be empowering, a former sex symbol staring down Father Time. Yasss queen! Instead, she clung to her youth with all her might. What worked for a while is now backfiring. Sadly.
She’s just mad we noticed.
Buried under the star’s new look is a terrible truth. Western culture routinely allows men to wrinkle up without collective tsk-tsking. Aging superstars like Sylvester Stallone, Liam Neeson and Clint Eastwood grow older, and craggier, while the cruel insults are kept mostly in check.
Female stars, from actresses to rock goddesses, attract more attention for the sin of getting old.
Madonna could have defied that imbalance, daring us to mock a star for standing up to the reality we all face.
How subversive! Instead, she chose the surgical route, one open to only the richest among us.
Madonna addressed her “changes” on social media,
“I am happy to do the trailblazing so that all the women behind me can have an easier time in the years to come.”
Trailblazers don’t assume the fetal position and lash out at detractors. They keep moving forward, oblivious to the taunts headed their way.
And does she really think, or even want, future Madonnas to demolish their faces to placate our youth-obsessed culture?
If so, that’s the most alarming part of Madonna’s new pose.