Friday, January 27, 2012
Book Review: Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop
The majority of the writers profess their love and ironic devotion, given Madonna's prolific use of religious imagery. They talk about her awakening them to feminism, to feeling that being a girl was okay and especially that being a sexual creature, and a female sexual creature at that was very much okay. In Soniah Kamal's essay, Into the Wilderness, the author reconciles her love of Madonna with her family's strict Muslim upbringing and how sin isn't necessarily a bad thing. Author Stacey May Fowles describes how watching Madonna's videos helped her embrace her submissive desires and explore them safely with her partners. And in Shawna Kenney's essay, she learns that mixing punk with Madonna-esque fashion can have some unintended results, leaving her to wonder "Did God care about what I looked like?".
The later half of the anthology talks about those less infatuated with her Madgestry, including Kate Harding's piece, "Conversations I Will Never Have With Madonna", in which she raises some very interesting questions that I would like to know the answers to, including one that had me chuckling loudly out loud (Honey, what is going on with your face? Is it reversible?) I loved Wendy Shanker's essay, "Mad Mensch" because it was completely outlandish but still very endearing, the idea of setting up Madonna, like a young Jewish matchmaker. But one of my favorite essays is "Count Madonnicula" by Lisa Crystal Carver. Trailblazer as Madonna may be, she still stole a lot. I remember watching the video for Vogue and feeling uncomfortable, not because of the dancing, but because she used people as props. Apparently, that feeling runs much deeper for Carver, who states:
"Whether it’s adopting gay men’s vogueing, adopting an Africanchild (I mean, geez—that baby had a dad!), or adopting an accent, she sneaks up on lesser-known people (which means everyone, for her), snatches the surface of their lives, and fashions a show or a children’s book or a life decision from it."
Madonna is in a place of incredible privilege and I don't believe she's ever really handled it all that well.
The anthology was a treat to read however. Since I came of age after the Golden Age of Madonna in the '80's, I never paid her much mind. I did enjoy bopping to her songs when they came on the radio, but had never really stopped to think about how much she is embedded in our culture. These writers delivered and much more in this new anthology.
(Photo credit: Amazon.com) (I received a review copy of this book, but all opinions are my own.)