Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Madonna and Me

Full disclosure – I do not know Madonna personally. I don’t own any of her music, have never seen any of her films, or buy any of her accoutrements. I can name maybe three or four hits. Like A Virgin, Vogue ... there, I’m drawing a blank already. I remember a slutty friend I lived with in the mid 80s introducing me to Madonna via a music video. Yes, it was the Like A Virgin music video, the one where she’s on a gondola in Venice I believe. Man, I all seems so tame now. I was indifferent then. I am a little less indifferent to Ms. Ciccone now.

You see, living in Toronto, I couldn’t help get caught up in the Madonna brouhaha at this year’s TIFF. Apparently Madonna’s people had instructed TIFF volunteers to turn their backs and face the wall when Madonna glided by on the red carpet. TIFF volunteers and the general public expressed outrage at Madonna’s gall. The comments section following online stories about the incident tore into her. Arrogant! Classless! Granted the request was a little bizarre, but I am cutting Madonna some slack, which I’m sure is of immense relief to her.

Imagine, for a moment, being Madonna. Imagine waking up every day, irrelevant, yesterday’s news, a joke to serious musicians. Imagine looking at your plastic, tapered face in the mirror every day and wondering what more you can do to stay beautiful when you never were conventionally beautiful in the first place. Now picture yourself maintaining the punishing physical training you must endure to keep your body chiseled. Then imagine picking up a newspaper (yes, how romantic of me) and stewing over that usurper Lady Gaga. Snow White and the Wicked Queen comes to mind. So to stay in the game you reinvent yourself as a filmmaker (because you can) and shop around an effort at various film festivals, being gracious while the press excoriates you.

Give me open mic night at Eton House any day.

I found the women who surrounded Madonna on the red carpet curious. One wore a novelty antennae thing on her head. Another grey-haired, frazzled woman stuck close to Madonna, ushering her by local reporters. They looked Madonna’s real age. They are Madonna’s people – a privileged position and one of enormous trust. I liked them.

Madonna tried her best to be pleasant. She had her game face on. I think she had Nicklas Lidstrom’s game face on.

I found the whole thing pitiful.

Maybe it’s because I’m approaching 50, but I’m softening toward the sex that is the same as mine. Now is the time we see who’s bought the cosmetic bill of goods – in our celebrities, in our public figures, in our own lives. Is having a Botox or surgically enhanced visage going to change anything? Man, I want to age as eccentrically as possible. We’re all ash in the end. I want to be cross-eyed in an open casket when I’m laid to rest.

Madonna –- I understand. It’s sucks to be you. I know why you commanded TIFF volunteers to not gaze at you. You are so insecure, so fragile underneath the perfect bod and sculpted face. I wouldn’t wish your life on my worst enemy. Stick to your imperfect people and find comfort and acceptance with them.

As the Ontario saying goes – it’s six of one, half dozen of the other. You didn’t have to do it. But you did.