Saturday, August 16, 2008

Madonna @ 50

[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.


c.p. iñor said...

winning the Globe for Evita


mmmm yes. she and her globes looked fabulous

lawyer tony fernando said...

Seeing her live in 1993, at the age of 10 in The Girlie Show in Brazil!

But if I ignore the personal aspect, Definetly her Like a Prayer and Music eras, so much confessional work with POP it´s just amazing, and I do like her Hard Candy album!

Good to see you NAT, did you see my comment on being asked out by a guy?


i did. I am planning on collecting all of your comments and selling them on LULU as an unauthorized aural memoir of coming out. On Sale in 2009!


MADONNA. if you lurking readers feel too overwhelmed by her magnificence to list just one highlight feel free to list 50. your call.

The Pretentious Know it All said...

I'm a young-in here (only 22), so my Madonna moment may seem rather recent/underwhelming. But for me, it's seeing the video for "Don't Tell Me" for the first time...and the second time...and the..pretty much every time I see that video. We can all agree that Ang Lee did gay cowboys best on Brokeback, but Madonna did it first and really well.
Damn, those were some hot gay cowboys in that video...

Anonymous said...

Come on the woman is old and she should act her age. I'm not saying that she should pretend that she's a grandma or something... just a classy 50 year hot woman not a old slut!

Hayden said...

I don't come from a family that tends to pray before meals, but tonight before dinner my mother made a small toast to longevity in honor of Madonna.

Not even kidding.

Catherine said...

I really, really, really dislike Madonna. Some of her singles are amazing, I'll give her that, and props for being such a savvy businesswoman, but in every single interview I've read/seen/heard with her, she comes across like a giant ass. I find her really joyless, tbh.

I'm all about Siouxsie/Tori/PJ.

Hayden said...

Oh, and on the subject of her Globes in 1996, I still consider that to be the most ostentatious red carpet cleavage ever. It was such a classy look but Madonna still managed to exude that "I'm corrupting your children" vulgarity while being weepy and Old Hollywood.

She's so wonderfully confusing.

Glenn said...

I'm only 22, so I wasn't there at the inception of her career (the forgotten gems "Everybody" and "Sidewalk Talk" by Jellybean) but there are several key moments the evolution of my love for Madonna.

In 1989 I remember becoming obsessed with videos. "Express Yourself" is, I'm sure, a "gay moment" for many young boys. "Cherish" was always so beautiful and "Like a Prayer" obviously even though I didn't quite get what was going on. I always thought she looked best in that clip where she looked like a minxy Italian gal with the brunette hair. Although nothing could (and would ever) compare to "Vogue", which is my favourite song of all time and the clip played all the time in my house.

1992 when I stole my mother's copy of The Immaculate Collection, recorded it to cassette and played it for god knows how long.

2000 I request Madonna's Music album for Christmas. I think my mother knows I'm gay right about now.

2005 I now sort of hate her, but think her music is the best in the world. If she would tour here then I wouldn't have a problem (I don't care about her manner in interviews or if she adopts African babies or if she's been married three times or if she's a bad actress or if - omg - goes to the gym a lot or - omg - she's 50 years old and doesn't think she should be knitting sweaters and baking bickes or whatever other reasons people use to knock her).

verninino said...

I've never been too good at celebrity worship (right now I'm bowing at the alter of Bill Moyers), so I can't really appreciate your obsession with Madge.

But since it's her birthday I tried, using YouTube. I must say, she's certainly my favorite gyrating celebrity slut. Which is a good thing, so long as she stays away from role-modeling my daughter.

Anyway, since it's her birthday I dug around and found some props to her acting here and here and, especially, here.

It's a very tricky scene/ role but if you watch it a couple of times (and get the gist of the scene) you really appreciate how well she pulls it off: the accent, the enunciation, the hair, the flubbed lines, the suppressed cleavage.

Bravo (sincerely_.

(Alas, attempts at an encore were unnecessary.)

Anonymous said...

I remember when "Like a Prayer" was released, the first time I heard the song I was on the school bus on the way to junior high, and I jumped up screaming "Turn it up! Turn it up!" How anyone knew I was gay I'll never know ;-)

Anonymous said...

I was nine years old, I used to spend my afternoons watching music videos and then one day they played this video, "Papa don't preach", I didn't understand english but the video made clear what was going on, and the blond girl singing was like nothing I've ever seen before. At least in my mind that moment marks the beginning of my obssesion with pop culture.

Anonymous said...

Madonna's 'Like a Virgin' VMA performance takes the cake, along with the reprise she made with Britney and Christina involving the kiss. Somehow I wasn't THAT surprised when it actually happened, because she does have that shock factor.

Anonymous said...

Why she continues to be called a slut is beyond me. I guess it's something though that even married 50-year-olds with parents aren't exempt from silly childish namecalling.

Anonymous said...

er, with children. lol.

Michael Parsons said...

Just look at my blog and my I LOVE Madonna celebration. The woman changed my life.

Anonymous said...

On a Sunday afternoon, many years ago...I was ill and lyied down on the sofa in the living room...suddenly on tv they passed MATERIAL GIRL's video...I was 11 years old, I didn't know who Madge was at that time, and I didn't even know many things about must say I was quite ingnorant...anyway for me it was something really strong and quite unique.
Just like Nathaniel, I could say that my life changed in that afternoon.

Thanks, Madge!!!

Mirko S.

-sky is the universe-

verninino said...

Being a married-40-year-old-with child I'll tell you why I still call Madge a slut: because I spent two hours catching up on her videos and bio-pics on YouTube (I haven't had a TV in a decade). Whether she's stepping out on Guy or they have an open bedroomship, she's still cultivating/ commercializing her image as a hedonistic, id-driven, 16-year-old slut.

However, I'm not suggesting that that's a bad thing-- where adults are concerned. Just as she made it vogue to be queer, sapphic, bi, and transsexual, she deified slutiness to such an extent that it's de rigueur amongst priests. And she continues looking pretty awesome doing it.

After all that YouTubing I'm still trying to come up with a singular Madonna moments, in vain. The problem is I never really acquired a taste for the Madonna kool aid (or even the Prince/ Michael Jackson brands). But the affect of her siren call to hedonize with gusto, that shit is grafted into my memes. Without Madonna's pop influence, I might have baby-fied two decades earlier, repressing all those wild and unruly oats.

So I am grateful, even if I don't fully appreciate her every sensationalized moment.

And Anon, baby, don't be so uptight, if you're a slut flaunt it. Madge made it safe to proudly come out.

Hayden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glenn Dunks said...

Madonna was so much of a slut that all priests are now following in her footsteps?

I honestly didn't understand a word of that.

par3182 said...

my favourite madonna moment was in 1983 - the day i confidently predicted that she'd be a one hit wonder but "that cyndi lauper will be huge"

and in my world that's exactly what happened...

verninino said...

Obviously, I'm being hyperbolic. My point: during the AIDS-plagued, "Say No!" Reagan era being a slut was kinda anti-intuitive for everyone.

Madonna, the virgin-like goddess, made reckless sex irresistible, even to priests.

Aren't there any old people around who can help me make my point.

Anonymous said...

Madonna is tiresome.

I flip the channel whenever I see her on television or hear her on the radio.

Petulant Child.

Cinesnatch said...

I have many, here are my top three:

3. Madonna's performs "Sooner or Later" at the Oscars"
2. Madonna kisses black Jesus in Pepsi commerical/"Like a Prayer" and pisses a lot of people off
1. Madonna makes fun of her "Justify My Love" video with Wayne & Garth

Anonymous said...

There was an interview with Kurt Loder (one of many) around the time Immaculate Collection came out called "Dinner with Madonna". She was in what looked like a 1930's night gown, all ruffly with lots of cleavage. I've always loved her, but it was the first moment when I realized she will be the biggest entertainment icon of all time before all is said and done.

Happy birthday Madge.


sawyer... i remember that so well too. She started it off with the camera zooming toward her and bending over the table with her huge cleavage.

"you're just in time for the ... main course"

i miss the cheeky Madonna. To me she's best when she's having a laugh. But even when she's deadly serious I enjoy