Monday, February 13, 2012


Ahh, that half time show at the Super Bowl ...

For weeks before the big day, we heard about the ads, what they cost, the show, and Madonna.

I'm an Elvis fan. I'm a fan of Michael Jackson -- the magic, the electricity --there's something in the way he moved that I'll never forget. I'm not a sports fan or a Madonna fan, but when Madonna's on stage doing her thing, I'm a fascinated Madonna watcher.

I remember when she was arrived on the scene -- her name delighted and bothered people even before they saw her. Here she is in 1984.

What a zoom it was, from the unknown new girl on the block to celebrity -- headlines, boyfriends, lovers, marriages, blockbuster hit songs. And while she was rising and astounding us, Michael Jackson was rising and astounding us -- lighting up the sky.

Fun to see them together -- the gloved one was Madonna's date for the 1991 Oscars.

I think MJ was much more startling, amazing, and inventive creatively. I think Madonna's fame-name comes from her gutsy, outrageous display of her sexuality and her need (her own words) to display "truth or dare" revelations of her "blonde ambition."

I looked and looked for a video that shows why audiences are crazy about her. Despite too many credits at the end, IN BED WITH MADONNA shows off Madonna the actress, singer, choreographer, producer, star, uninhibitedly expressing herself.

Yes, she's aging. She's had many hits and still wins awards. Just recently she won the Golden Globe Award for 2011, for MASTERPIECES, a song she wrote and performed, that's just been released.

Well, there she was at the Super Bowl, the star of an expensive half-time show that reminded me of the Olympics. There were marching bands, choruses of men, choruses of women, acrobats, fabulous set changes, light changes, crowds of extras that suggested a gathering of people who were carried away by the spirit that was generated by their voices and bodies reacting to music.

The songs, some hers, some belonging to others, seemed to blend. I found myself focusing on the super high stilettos Madonna was wearing as she marched, knees-up, knees- down -- as she plied -- bent her legs in what we dancer's call "second" position, with her turned-out knees and her stilettoes (her feet) about three feet apart. Once she sort of skipped; twice guys flipped her in a cartwheel slightly awkwardly; she perched on someone's shoulders, stood on someone's shoulders; she was lifted and tossed and sang and sang. What the words were I couldn't really comprehend. I only remember a huge bunch of chorus girls chanting "we love Madonna, Madonna, Madonna" in an snap-your-fingers, clap-your-hands rhythm.

The words and music were sort of drowned out by all the stage effects. I was very impressed by the white-suited group of acrobats, though they upstaged Madonna. I remember her suddenly in a shiny black gown, singing, down on her knees worshiping Cee Lo Green, male singer, also in a shiny black gown. I wondered for a second if it was supposed to be sexual.

I have a strong impression of a slender, beautiful face, framed by long blond curls -- Madonna the star -- a bit stiffly, often in second position bump and grinding, knees up, knees down marching through the entire half-time show, showing me that Madonna was indeed it's star and main attraction.

"You never know exactly the minute, the place. You climb the hill all your life and you're going on and on. You reach a flat place now and then but a flat place is going someplace on the way up your hill. And then ... well, it feels the same. The wind's the same. You're still walking but ... but the top of the hill is gone and done with and you're going down. Not up. Going down. You don't quite know how or when going up got to be going down. But you're going ... down ..."

That's a quote from a play I wrote that comes to mind when I think about what she's doing and thinking today -- she's on a world tour now, being praised and undoubtedly also disparaged, singing, dancing, partying, living -- being "Madonna."

If I could, I'd tell her: As you've grown up over the years, you are what you wanted to be -- blonde ambition, truthful and daring. At the Superbowl, perhaps too much "ambition" was showing Give us more YOU, as you are right now.


pamela said...

Love the quote from your play. Name of play?
Would like to read it.

Really enjoy reading your blog.

pamela said...

What is the name of your play with that wonderful quote? Is it available to read online/kindle? Other?

Really enjoy your blog.

Maureen Jacobs said...

I have to admire her marketing strategy. She started with nothing, and now she has amassed a fortune and a career spanning 25 + years.....

She has her ups, downs, moments of strangeness, perhaps sharing too much, but she owns all of it. She never hides from it, she never denounces it, she is who she is and tells the world that what you see is what you get.

Love her or hate her, she is real. She has taken on the world and has come pretty damn close to winning. She is still a contender, she is living on her terms, and shows no signs of stopping.

I say, "good for you, Madonna."

Anonymous said...

Madonna the big star! My mom and I watched the Super Bowl and the half time show. I was impressed with how good Madonna looked and performed even at her age. She looked and sounded great. Her costumes were even less sexual than she used to be I thought. She didn't wear that famous pointed armor bra! I doubt if we see much of her Now Madonna-she gives us a show instead of her songs and how whe wants to appear Now to all her fans. kam

Kaye Francis said...

I was never a big follower (fan) of Madonna through the years. Mostly she was 'side' vision vs. 'straight on' vision for me....meaning her popularity & buzz was abundant enough to pierce through.

I do think her music 'progessions' were a natural 'evolving' process that was in sync with her true inner self, her explorations, her journeys. In other words, I always thought a whole lot about her was 'real' vs. 'phony' or 'faux' or 'fake'.
* * *
Here's her signs of mental maturity ~

1.~ while a block buster staged performance, she stayed clothed with only a 'flash' of gold panty showing through. This was of great relief to the NFL, however I did think some fans were disappointed she kept so many clothes on.

2. ~ she graciously shared the stage with Cee Lo, Nicki Minaj & that M.I.A. gal. That M.I.A. gal ungraciously flipped the bird off which Madonna did not know about until later. I too missed it when it happened & only saw it later. Madonna waited at least a good week before she spoke about it. She was brainy, calm, even about it being 'out of place'. She didn't directly demean the artist, only the action & was really quite honest. The words came from her own brain, they weren't words written by some PR person for her. Personally, if it had been me, I'd have been a lot more furious as it totally took away from the performance message at the end of 'world peace' in the way that my brain thinks.
* * *
Madonna has an 'originality' of her own coming from influences & origins of her upbringing & stars of movies, music or both that went before her. We can see those influences in her music 'progressions'.

Now she is an influence or origin to other female musical artists, but all too often we see the Madonna influenced performances of others as quite a lot more 'copy cat' ones. It is perfectly ok to have a fusion of influences in an artist, provided they have an 'original' perspective about it. Being a 'copy cat' is not OK.
* * *
And as for the Super Bowl choreography, there were times her footing didn't appear to be all that stable. I'd almost think that Madonna didn't do a final rehearsal in the tall boots (?), I think they were that she wore.
* * *
Thanks dear EM for all your blog posts. Much love to you & your beloved JC. I'm @grammakaye on twitter.

Ameer S. Washington said...

I didn't watch the half time show because I wasn't much interested in Madonna. Never had been, and can barely call many of her songs, though I grew up in 80s and 90s when she had much of her success. I remember her movies roles more. But she was so big that everyone knew who she was. I'm on the Michael Jackson side. I think the difference being that as his appearance changed (we now know legitimately to a disease and to much happiness on my part), his music changed with them, and with the times. His music is of note to me because while it was always the dancing, crotch-grabbing Michael Jackson with that electric downhill voice, it seemed to have this great depth about it.

If your observations are true, then Madonna is the living embodiment of trying to be too much of what she was, rather than what she is. I'm sure people want more of who she is now or maybe she isn't much different then she was some 30 years ago when she burst onto the scene, breaking the trends of sophistication to give people the unadulterated discomfort that the world need to be more liberal. To our gain or demise, who knows.

Interesting topic to say the least. I could go on for hours, but I'll stop.

Linda Phillips said...

I have never been much of a Madonna fan. I liked her years ago in Desperately Seeking Susan and also sort of liked her in the movie of Evita.

I always gave her credit for continuously reinventing herself...but never cared for her as a person or as a performer.

She is just not my cup of tea. I always found her trashy....and no I did not watch any of the Super Bowel...but did see repeated clips of her stumbling twice. I think she should try to be her age...and act it...she was not up for those moves or those shoes.

Nancy Castellow said...

She could do a different kind of music added to her older stuff. Rock but she don't need to do the acrobatics she did before, and less sexual. Maybe male dancers and stuff but less, sometimes less is more. If they liked the music and the words,I think people would appreciate itjust as much without all the actions she used to do. She's different now, she should do some different stuff to grow with her. She is a pretty lady. And she should ease up on the plastic surgery. She don't look like herself, kind of but different. She could be interesting maybe even more so with change. Not that she's bad, but growth in all you do is good.

Sue Poulin said...

Ah, Madge. God bless her for still being ballsy after all these years. She has always been not just a dance pop princess, but the first woman performer to push the envelope, take risks, more than anyone else at the time, with varied results. There are feminist tracts written about her which I am too tired to find and quote from, but she did actually forward the cause of women in her own way. While earning the adoration of at least two generations of gay men, among others. Lady Gaga in spite of her outfits doesn't come close, but maybe someday she'll manage to pioneer something.
I guess I have an enormous respect for risk takers in this wild business we're in.
Much love to you all on this holiday!