I’ve never been a particularly big fan of Madonna’s music. But it’s hard not to appreciate her contribution to the pop landscape over the past 30 years.
She has sold more than 300 million albums worldwide and is recognised as the world’s top-selling female recording artist of all time by Guiness World Records. Time magazine also considers her to be one of the “25 Most Powerful Women of the Past Century”. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked Madonna at number two, behind only The Beatles, on the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists, making her the most successful solo artist in the history of the chart. She was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the same year. (Check out her Wikipedia page for more interesting info about her career).
What interests me more though, is the way we tend to react to Madonna’s music and creative expression as she ages. The more time goes on, the more we hear about Madonna’s aging face, her aging and too muscular body and her flesh-revealing, over-sexed music videos. Not to mention the label of “bitch” that’s assigned to any female who is assertive, opinionated or single-minded in their pursuit of success.
Now, I don’t know about you but I can only hope that I look that good at 57. I also think it’s expected that someone who makes a living out of dancing around on stage would need some significant muscle mass, and that her music video’s show considerably less flesh/sex than any other contemporary pop artist these days (and plenty of them are no more than soft core porn).
Most importantly though, we hear about how all of this is inappropriate for someone Madonna’s age. How dare she show her face/body or sexuality when she’s nearly 60! It seems that in society today, the only thing worse than looking old is trying not to look old, even though we told you not to look old if you want us to value you in any way.
I have to wonder why this double standard exists.
What is so different about a woman of 60 singing pop songs and cavorting about on stage with half naked men, when compared with someone in their 20s doing the same? Are we really that repulsed by anyone that looks a day over 22? Why is it that, if Madonna had no plastic surgery…we would lambaste her for daring to show herself in public with wrinkles…yet if she creates a body and face as close to youth as someone can at her age, we blast her for doing that too? Why is it not ok for a woman of that age to look (or not look) her age and be successful at what she does?
It seems to be a little bit of an impossible situation. While men in the entertainment industry only become more desirable as they age, women become past their use by date. It hardly seems fair.
As far as I’m concerned, Madonna has been making us look at her for the past 30 years and has made a huge contribution to the pop culture landscape in that time. And, on the odd occasion that I watch a music video or performance by her, I can say that I’m thoroughly entertained and no, I don’t mind if a woman with wrinkles has a sexuality (or an opinion).
So I say, rock on Madonna. May you ever reign as Queen.