Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Back off Madonna

I watched the Super Bowl Sunday (well, until Downton Abbey came on), and saw Madonna’s halftime show.
Now, I know plenty of people who do not like Madonna or her music.  Fine:  so be it.  But I have had enough of the nastiness, as people continue to post snide derogatory remarks about Madonna’s age.
Are you kidding me?  
First off, she looks GREAT for her age.  Period.  Only Tina Turner might have looked better at 53.  
Second, it was a very good performance.  It wasn’t quite on the level of U2’s powerful performance after September 11th, 2001, or Prince’s awesomeness in 2003, but it was a very good show.
I’ll give you that the new number was the weakest of the set, and I’ll acknowledge that some of the vocals may have gone off a bit (although remember how bad the sound was with The Black Eyed Peas last year?), but the show as a whole was visually stunning and definitely entertaining.  Madonna and her choreographers wisely featured her in a way to get through the demanding set, and “Like a Prayer”, with Cee Lo and the Gospel choir, was a great ending.
Finally, and most important, the negative reaction about her age is due to her being a woman.  

We call that sexism.
Forbes magazine’s Liz W. Garcia was right to notice the reactions of people:
(she called it "ageist", but still is focused on her gender)
But the talk DURING the halftime performance was all about Madonna being old, a trend I find disturbing and lame given that on any other year, it’d be Tom Petty or Garth Brooks, or a middle-aged male musician whose appearance would not elicit ageist remarks. But in spite of the fact that Madonna is 53 years-old and lept from a kneeling position to standing, over and over whilst wearing spike heels (go ahead, try it, and when you’re done icing your knees, read on) and keeping pace with her twenty-something backup dancers, the focus was on her age. 
We live in a world where Fox makes an “amusing” commercial from clips of 63-year-old musician Steven Tyler flirting with American Idol contestants, who, because of the contest’s age restriction, we can deduce are younger than 30. In one, after a particularly spirited and sexy audition, he says ‘You must be crazy… (falters, catches himself) on the dance floor.’ Oh yeah, real hilarious.... And it’s a world where we cut down an uber-successful female entertainer because she dares to entertain at the age of 53. It’s a world where every darn TV pilot season, I read the same words “our female lead, (Name), age 28.” Twenty-eight. Were you solving crime, busting terrorists or performing heart surgery at 28? I sure wasn’t. But women on TV have to be young. Women romancing our leading men in the movies have to be young....
What does any of this matter, apart from the icky burst of mean-spiritedness? It matters because your wives and daughters and sisters and mothers are gonna get older, too, y’all, and they’ll take those kind of cracks seriously. It matters because this ageist mentality translates to the images we send out into the wide world in TV and film, and where we disproportionately prioritize youth we send the message to our young women that they are relevant only briefly and superficially, like shooting stars. Or like pop stars.
So I'll say it again:  Back off Madonna...


Ann said...

Thhanks Kurt!

Wenchy said...

Love this one Kurt...thanks!

DrJoe said...

Hi Kurt. Good points on Madonna. A couple of things just cause that's me:

1) Hasn't Madonna's act always been more about sexuality (specifically sexual confidence) and choreography than music, so isn't she bound to be judged on her looks a bit? (I thought she looked fine, by the way).

2) Isn't it ironic that this comes up regarding the half-time feature in a sport where men are judged totally based on their physical prowess and never get to play after age 40?