Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New Madonna Video: Cause For 'Celebration'?

Madonna's new video is surprisingly unexceptional. As Madonna evolved in the '80s-'90s from straightforward dance music (complemented by straightforward, low-budget music videos), she used her platform to introduce music videos that challenged the world to accept a black Jesus ("Like a Prayer"), a flamboyant inner-city dance culture ("Vogue"), right-to-life decisions ("Papa Don't Preach").

The came the Music album, which paved the way for Madonna's new era of writing music about, well, music and writhing in her videos without much else going on.

Not a lot is going on in "Celebration." It's virtually the same as "Hung Up"--Madonna showing she's still nimble at age 50--but, fortunately for us, with a much easier-to-look-at outfit. This time Madonna's pelvis is not the fulcrum at the center of this video. But what is is equally disturbing...and interesting. The center of this video is none other than Jesus himself!

We mean Jesus Luz, of course, Madonna's controversial plaything. Midway through the "Celebration" video, after a couple of minutes of Madonna et al. twisting to the beat, comes Jesus in his lead debut as a DJ. After a couple minutes of making lascivious faces (which would be absolutely disgusting on a man of a certain age) and sexually suggestive movements, Madonna cozies up to the "DJ" and removes his clothes, piece by piece. Like us, Jesus looks vaguely disgusted.

Artistically, "Celebration" may be somewhat of a low for Madonna. Besides looking fresh as a genetically modified daisy in an Andy Warhol wig, Madonna is giving us more message than art. What's the message? It's an interesting one.

Madonna always has been defiant--so much so that this entire statement is a waste of words. But this defiance is a bit less obvious, more subversive. Madonna always has pushed the limit as a feminist working under the guise of a totally independent mind. Let's be honest: Madonna is downright creepy in "Celebration." If she were a fifty-year-old man making faces at a 20-something hottie, and then slowly removing her clothes while she makes uncomfortable faces, there would be a riot. Sure, rock stars are different, but even Steven Tyler has known since the '80s that to keep his fans liking him, he needs to feature hotties in vignettes within his video, not getting nasty with him. That would be nasty.

It's pretty nasty when Madonna does it, too--even if you are a fan of her brand-new face (which we are!). But here Madonna takes feminism to its next level. In "Celebration," Madonna is not on an equal playing field with her male rock-n-roll counterparts: She is above them. There is no such thing as a FILF, only a MILF, and Madonna's creepily meta-video shows who's boss. Madonna is a predator, and her fans would accept nothing less.

As for the song, she phoned it in.

No comments: