Monday, April 18, 2016

Core Post #5 (YAY!) The Spectacle of Madonna

When Madonna was hugely, immensely, unbelievably popular I was not allowed to watch or listen to her music. She was waaaaay too far out there for my conservative, Christian family. We stopped at Michael Jackson, and even some of his stuff was out-of-bounds. As a result, I didn't know much about Madonna until Britney Spears came along because everyone was comparing Britney to Madonna in the same way Justin Timberlake was being compared to Michael Jackson.

Now that I'm (much) older, I can understand why my parents disapproved of Madonna.

Cvetkovich talks about Madonna as the object of the female gaze being in a position of power instead of one of meekness. She even does so without forfeiting her femininity. While watching "Express Yourself" in Truth or Dare, it was obvious by the position of the dancers (girl on top), the humping, and the male backup dancers walking out on stage as if their hands are cuffed behind their backs--Madonna wants to be seen and seen in a specific way. She wants to be seen in a position of power.

Cvetkovich goes on to say that "Madonna enjoys displaying herself for the visual pleasure of others: ...the stage show is all spectacle." And "Madonna is not content merely to be watched onstage. She invites the cameras...to pursue her behind the scenes." She has essentially forfeited her privacy to bring her spectators even closer and give the tabloids something new to talk about.

I found Cvetkovich's points really interesting considering her chapter was written over 20 years ago, much closer to Madonna's heyday and a few years before the internet took off. But even now, Madonna's spectacle still seems pretty scandalous. Cvetkovich even mentions Madonna's use of costume to bend genders and sexuality as a way of garnering even more attention. The "behind the scenes" look that Truth or Dare is supposed to give the spectator doesn't give them a look at Madonna's true self, but rather a snap shot of what goes into making this show the spectacle that it is.

I don't blame my parents for not introducing me to Madonna. She's not really for kids, and her hypersexualized representation of femininity is something I've never connected with. What I do appreciate is how influential and bold she was in her stage show and overall persona. She's created an entertainer who is largely than life, whom we can't help but gaze at. When people can't seem to look away, that is true power.

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