[Nathaniel popping in to his own blog! Do you miss me?] I had planned a mammoth Madonna blog celebration for today, the diva's 50th birthday on Planet Earth, but my life interrupted and to do her justice I would need another 50 days to plan ahead for it. But I don't feel so bad about it: I'm guessing God took at least 5 days in Heaven perfecting his plans for the great entertainer and you know how much he can accomplish in but a week.
Anyone reading The Film Experience regularly for more than a week will realize that my favorite actress is Michelle Pfeiffer (who also turned 50 this year... what is it with this year and 50 year olds? There's a lot of major talents hitting the half-century mark: Viggo Mortensen, Annette Bening, Prince, Angela Bassett, Sharon Stone, Ellen DeGeneres, David O. Russell, Jennifer Tilly, Charlie Kaufman, Miranda Richardson, Michael Jackson, Joan Jett, Tim Burton and Jamie Lee Curtis just to name a few... ) It would take much more than a week to know that Madonna is my all time fav celebrity. I don't get to talk about her much herein since she doesn't make movies really ...and her track record was notoriously unimpressive to begin with.
Formative pop-cultural experiences tend to happen in the teenage years and as much as say, Brokeback Mountain or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or whatever, can hit you like a truck when you're a 30something... few things can compare to the seismic emotional shifts that happen when you're a teenager and literally everything about you and around you feels and is malleable. If I ever struggled to make a list of the 50 pop cultural experiences that affected me the most (that'd be tough to compile), Madonna arriving atop that wedding cake on the MTV video awards in 1984 would probably land in the #1 position.
I was never the same again.
The first screening of 1991's fab documentary Truth or Dare would also place. It's literally impossible to imagine another rock star's life on camera being as rip roaringly funny, curious, insightful, sexy, attitudinal, subversive, starry and smart all at once. Other celebrities have their charms but staring at them 24/7 would get monotonous. In the end, nobody does the fame game better than Madge.
Since I don't have time for either my big "50 best things about Madonna" list or a 10 top 5 lists that would cover many aspect of the one and only, I'd like to point you to another Madonna maniac picking up my slack. Check out Matthew Rettemund @ Boy Culture's first post in a multipart must read on 50 spectacular female icons that collectively form a prism through which we can see Madonna. The cool hook of this huge essay is that it looks at each of these icons around the time they turned 50 years-old. I met Matthew last year in New York and it was like a celebrity encounter for me. He wrote the book Encylopedia Madonnica that I've all but worn the binding from over the years... I was more than a little star struck when we were introduced. I'm glad there are other people out there (besides my first boyfriend who is undoubtedly playing her CDs today somewhere in Texas) who feel as possessive of and possessed by her as I.
Long may she reign. Long may she entertain. She gives good soundtrack to life.
Share your favorite Madonna career moment in the comments. She's been working her ass off for a quarter century now. She deserves the tribute.