Madonna and body fascism: no rerun of Sunset Boulevard – just watch the video

Madonna and body fascism: no rerun of Sunset Boulevard – just watch the video


norman lebrecht

February 06, 2012

Madonna’s appearance at the SuperBowl provoked a slew of commentaries that appear to fall into roughly three lines of argument:

– who knew she was still alive?

– amazing she can walk unaided

– how come they let a wrinkly of 53 loose on a pulic channel at prime time – actually in front of the children?

The diva appeared, needless to say, with a troupe of Roman gladiators and a new release to promote. The voice, to be frank, is no longer the piercing instrument of yore and some of her moves were prudently slowed down. Nevertheless, the force of her personality was not to be denied, as the video (just launched on youtube) forcibly attests.

So why the onslaught of ageism? Because the freedoms of the internet encourage a dangerous conformity, a sclerosis of public opinion. The entitlement of youth and the marginalisation of maturity have become all the more prevalent as establishment media crumble and personal media prevail. Madonna, in this perspective, becomes a heroine of resistance, a fighter for age diversity. Who’d have thought?

Here’s a trenchant blog reflection, well worth reading, from the Canadian broadcaster¬†Catherine Kustanczy.


  • ariel says:

    It is a quite suitable entertainment for the dim wits snapping pictures .

  • Bob Lefsetz wrote an interesting piece on Madonna. He’s bashing her quite a bit – not for her age, but for her poor understanding of society, obligations, and changing music markets.

  • Janey says:

    C.J. Sperling:

    Thank you for the link to the Lefsetz blog. Reading it, I have a suspicion that Bob may not like Madonna. I could be wrong, but I do think there was a hint of that in the blog. Oh my.

    His interpretation of her is, for want of a better term, totally foreign.

    Madonna is a D-I-V-A. She lets you see what she wants you to see and nothing that she doesn’t. She believes in herself and seems to feel no need whatsoever to pander to anyone. She trusts her fans to be her fans – or not. It is wonderfully refreshing to see someone so comfortable in her own skin that she isn’t desperate to please for approval. Especially as a woman, when it is so often the women who are made by “Hollywood” to feel defective in some way. This is doubly true of course for older women.

    I don’t know her charity contributions, but I’m fairly certain I’ve read that they are substantial – and private.

    At 53 with 30 years as a singer, she won’t be as popular as the “next new thing.” But still, I – and most other Americans – say, “More power to her.” She may not be lovable, but she’s Madonna, the icon.

  • As a woman, I’m so glad I emigrated to Istanbul, where I’ve happily escaped exactly what Kustanczy has eloquently described in American (and evidently Canadian) culture. Here, nobody cares how old you are, personally and professionally. They just want to know how you think, and if you’re enjoying life.

    I think Madonna is re-defining middle age, which could desperately use some re-defining.