Madonna Makes Me Feel Dirty
Ok. I guess as a gay man it behooves me to write something about the release of the new Madonna album and singles. But, to be really gay and paraphrase Bette Davis in All About Eve: “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s gonna be a bumpy blog.” Let me start this off by saying two things: I have been a Madonna fan since ‘Everybody’ was played at Katrina’s in the very early 80s (nobody knew who the hell Madonna was) and, more importantly, taste is subjective.
Millions of years and millions of albums later, Madonna is about to release her ‘take that Gaga, I’m the Queen’ album, MDNA. Quite frankly, everything I’ve heard from it I not only don’t like, I actually hate. From a strictly musical point-of-view it sounds lazy, far too self-referential, devoid of melody and hooks and even remotely interesting lyrics. The more I heard snippets of songs over the past month, the more my eyes rolled. What the hell happened? Why do I care so much?
At first I thought she just got too carried away with club DJs and producers and lost her own voice in the mix. But when I heard William Orbit was going to be involved, my little heart beat faster. I LOVED what he and Madonna did with Ray of Light and Music. Stunning! Alas, the pitter-patter of my heart wasn’t buoyed by the beats I heard.
I’ll backtrack a bit here. I have bought every Madonna album and almost every CD (and vinyl) single in print. I have gone to see Madonna in concert every time she’s come to Toronto. It was always a done deal. Let’s face it she puts on one of the best spectacles in showbiz. Sure, she lip synchs part of the show, but she’s also doing acrobatics and dancing so hard even an Olympic athlete would get winded. However, I began to lose my lust for the lascivious lady on the last tour. I went to see the Hard Candy extravaganza with great excitement and expectation. Unfortunately, she had decided to remix her catalogue to the point that a lot of her classic songs lost their personality. Hmmm.
It was a blatant manipulation to ‘get the gays’.
Sure, no one can hit it over the fence with every swing, and I loved the revamp of Vogue and the ballad section where she went acoustic was wonderful. The problem was that—for $500 in tickets—I felt like I could have just waited and bought the DVD and watched the bits I liked. Madonna seemed lost somewhere inside the spectacle and I never felt that visceral ‘live concert’ connection.
Now back to MDNA. The more I heard the new material, the more I got the feeling she is just going through the motions to fulfill contractual obligations and have an excuse to tour. Madonna’s fortune is in her live shows, not her album sales. Which brings me to what really started sticking in my craw: she seems very busy saturating the market with clothing lines, movies, perfumes, books et al. It feels like she’s more interested in being a mogul than a musician. Does this explain the banality of MDNA? Perhaps.
Still, I was stating to feel more and more pissed off with each song. What the hell is that all about? I’m 48 years old! Why should I give a tinker’s damn about any of this? Its just silly, right? Then it hit me while I watched her Girl Gone Wild video. Not only was it more self-reference with the pre-video prayer (from Like A Prayer) to the stealing her own lyrics from a slew of her past hits; it was a blatant manipulation to ‘get the gays’. Reductive? Yowza! Sorry, I’ve heard it all before.
Madonna is the Queen of the Gays. No! Lady Gaga is the Queen of the Gays.
Suddenly, I connected with what was really annoying me about this whole thing. Madonna is using gay iconography and nearly naked men in high heels to pull in the gay audience. She’s going back to where it all started. But, instead of feeling a camaraderie and connection, I felt dirty. She is battling Lady Gaga for the queer audience. Um, really? I stopped feeling like a fan or audience and started to feel like a market to be hit for the ‘pink dollar’.
Madonna is the Queen of the Gays. No! Lady Gaga is the Queen of the Gays. Suddenly, as a middle-aged gay man, I felt like I was being used by a couple of fag hags who were vying for my attention because all the straight guys stopped looking at them and they needed validation. This has actually happened to me in real life—as I’m sure it’s happened to many gay men— and, as usual, it leaves me feeling annoyed and alienated. It’s just undignified.
Yes, maybe this whole thing sounds silly and trivial. But I’m tired of being marketed at by people who are counting beans and not beings. Sure, both of these women probably have their hearts in the right place, but stop pandering to a subculture and just talk to us. It actually makes some of us feel manipulated, objectified and dirty. I don’t need a Queen of the Gays, thank you very much. I’m my own Queen!
photo credit: Felix_Nine
Tags: All About Eve
, Andrew Vail
, Bette Davis
, fag hag
, Hard Candy
, Lady Gaga
, Like A Prayer
, Ray of Light
, William Orbit