Monday, October 24, 2005


Newsflash. Madonna thinks American culture is trashy.

I have always respected Madonna. While I was never a huge fan of her music, I felt like I understood what she was doing. When she was rolling around onstage in a wedding dress and crucifix, partly in reaction to her conservative Italian Catholic parents, I was a young teenager enduring puberty surrounded by conservative Irish Catholics. Later when she embraced her sexuality and made soft porn books, I understood that she was taking sexual freedom and experimentation to a certain end point. Although I can’t say I would’ve published those pictures of myself, I understood that she was exploring a sexuality that was accepting and non-repressive. Very respectable, even if somewhat over the edge.

This has been my attitude towards Madonna for twenty years now. I went through puberty, adolescence, and young adulthood not really interested in her pop style, but appreciating the interesting intellectualism of it all. Until now. This weekend Madonna has joined the likes of Tom Cruise in wacko land. She says that American culture is trashy, she doesn’t let her kids watch TV because of it, and understands that we are all spiritually pathetic (and perhaps going to hell?).

Now, it is understandable that she may get a little more conservative as she ages, especially now that she has children. We all are probably a little chagrined by our youthful activities. However, this is exhibiting an almost total disconnect between the old Madonna and the new one. When someone has such a deep change of position, I cease to take them seriously, despite giving them some credibility even if they hold far out ideas in the first place. If they are free tototally disavow themselves from earlier positions, what commitment to current positions should we realistically expect from them? How long before Madonna absolves herself of her new Kabbalah and anti-TV position?

The Kabbalah thing is interesting too. Much of Madonna’s earlier vibe derived from her reaction to conservative Catholicism. How funny that now she has become even more conservative and fundamental in her spirituality. Judaism of course predates Catholicism. Kabbalah is a fairly hardcore version of Judaism. So now the young woman who felt repressed by her conservative upbringing, has become even more conservative.

This dovetails well into Strauss and Howe generational theory. Madonna turns out to be just another Boomer. Totally committed to her individual exploration of life as a young adult, to a detrimental extreme, and then as an adult being totally committed to her newfound conservatism, again to a detrimental extreme. It is as if the one thing this generation completely lacks is a sense of moderation. I am disappointed in Madonna.

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