Wednesday, September 25, 2013

So, Madonna Wants to Start a Revolution...

...In case you haven't heard. It's called Art for Freedom, and she launched it with a video called SecretProjectRevolution (spaces are at a premium in the age of Twitter):

The video is interesting and well-done, but—here comes the naysayer crashing the party—I have so many problems with it, I’m not even sure where to start. For one, it fails miserably at what it tries to be: revolutionary. It’s a well-produced reel of soft-core S&M / torture-porn, replete with idealized writhing semi-naked bodies in corsets, leather, and fishnets—hardly revolutionary in this day and age. (Even the suffering is rendered gorgeously; the only ugly thing left in the entire video is her voice. But Madonna does believe in the rights of fat people!)

The main problem with the video, however, is where it’s coming from: Madonna. She says it: she wants to start a revolution but nobody’s listening. Why? Because she’s “not a black man with an Afro or an Arab with a hand grenade”. People, apparently, only want to see her ass (well, maybe some people). Madonna may have been revolutionary in the 80s, and maybe even in the 90s; but when was the last culturally-significant (not to mention revolutionary) thing she’s produced? Some generous souls would say “Ray of Light”. Regardless, Madonna has become in recent years the epitome of big business in pop music, corporate music personified. She was 2013's top-earning celebrity, according to Forbes, and was one of the most prominent people to actively campaign against Napster. So for her now to criticize big business and partner with Bit Torrent is disingenuous to say the least, if not outright hypocritical.

Is the message inspiring? Perhaps; but it’s so trite and bland it’s almost irrelevant—it might as well be “We are the World”! (And with a message this bland, quoting Godard and Sartre simply won't save it.) Can she make a difference? Sure, she’s one of the most powerful women on the planet. But this aging jaded cynic sees it simply as another ploy of even older star (she's a year older than my mom) trying to regain some cultural relevance and a bit of the spotlight she craves (by her own admission). It could be worse, I guess; she could have been swinging on a wrecking ball. But is it groundbreaking? Hardly.

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