Monday, July 23, 2012

No Holds Barred - Madonna

By Blair Sabol      
What is really shocking anymore? The mass murder in a Colorado movie theatre though horrendous was not that  astonishing. The current long list of recent mass shootings has left us strangely immune. Obviously violence and rage has become fashionable if not dull.

Which leads me to Madonna's current stage exploits. She has become Fifty Shades of embarrassing. In the last week on her MDNA world tour she felt the need to expose her nipple in Istanbul, bare her fish netted ass in Rome, and put a gun to her head (but didn't pull the trigger) in London. There was also some mention of painting a swastika on the face of a French politician during her opening stage montage. Not to mention her screaming "we love you Poland" (as a joke to the London audience) that fell uncomfortably flat.  

Madonna on Facebook.
Madonna on striptease.
What is this all about? Clearly it is the desperation of an aging pop star. What an art it is to know when to leave them wanting more — and maybe when to leave entirely. It was reported that in spite of her striptease many of her fans left her Hyde Park concert early. Her expensive ticket prices left many empty seats and it seems her Cirque de Soleil production (what isn't nowadays) appeared tired.

Isn't the handwriting on the wall here? Sure her popularity has spanned decades and we honor her for her gangbanging business sense and longevity.  But why not pack it in? Show us how to age gracefully and reinvent yourself in a new arena or disappear completely (nothing wrong with that). In spite of all her notorious face work (and Facebook presence) she looks dehydrated and ravaged in most of the concert footage.

When her "mature chest" isn't in full exposure it is squeezed up and into the strangest shelf shaped truss. Like a virgin?  No, more like an aging cougar. She has become a Bravo TV Housewife.

As one Madonna fan tweeted from Hyde Park; " Sadly its usually the first sign of senility when an old woman takes of her clothes in public."

But what is Madonna's message here? She says in her concert rap that she "wants to live dangerously." But that is not a message. It's a last ditch attempt to appear relevant. And frankly Madonna never cared what her fans thought. So there!  

Forget about doing good music and dancing decently.  Obviously she is feeling the heat of Lady Gaga and Rihanna. As she should...bring them is about time. But using your body as a calling card  at 53?  In spite of all her rigorous workouts and vegetable juicing, her sinewy arms and crepe-y old hands still show telltale signs of age.  
Even Marlene Dietrich knew to cover up in her final concerts. There she stood propped up but swathed in white sequins from neck to toes. Why doesn't Madonna take a cue from 64-year-old Cher. She has performed terrifically in her latest Vegas act as a "fun spectacle" dressed in outrageous Bob Mackie creations. Mackie is known to create nudity with tons of illusion netting  so Cher never had to  go "full frontal". She had great wigs and better backup boys. At this point she could almost be Dame Edna. But Cher has the intelligence to laugh at herself while Madonna has no humor. It is all so deadly.
But what are old pop stars suppose to do nowadays? Retire seems a dirty word. Luckily Tina Turner and Diana Ross have left quietly and appropriately and found remote lives for themselves. Even Aretha Franklin is very measured with when and where she appears.
Cues? Marlene, Cher, and Dame Edna.
And thank God none of them are hawking jewelry on QVC. They don't even feel the need to make odd "Casino " appearances in middle America like The Jacksons, or Kiss and David Cassidy. Lately we have The Beach Boys making their 50th anniversary  concert tour.  First of all they are no longer "boys" but old farts and so is their loyal fan base.

Since most of the original Beach Boys are dead you are getting the "new and improved" fakes for $400 a seat. But audience nostalgia runs deep.  And lets not forget Mick Jagger. He too is headed out for his 50-year anniversary tour. He also has a new book out about all the girls and boys he has slept with. So he has an entire sex life to promote.  

But honestly, do we really have to endure looking at a 70-year-old Mick once again looking like an older Don Knotts doing the same old strut? Yes, the fact that he can STILL DO IT counts for something. But does it?  Aren't we, as an audience, just keeping those stars stuck in doing their" same old same old?"  And isn't it because we can't age either? So we are all caught in our own "Sunset Boulevard" scenario. It is hard to move on.

Look at Oprah. I thought for sure she would teach us all how to leave the scene and discover something new. Instead she is back doing reality TV interviews on her failing network and still trying to appeal to the booklist fans by going digital. Does the world even miss Oprah? Did she give us a chance? It is hard to find your second or third act. In the end extreme fame can leave you merely isolated and exhausted.

I was thinking the only performer who can still get it up and pull in the crowds without missing a beat is Elton John. His supreme talent continues on not to mention his sheer honesty and no cheap sex tricks on stage, other than his glasses and jazzy suits. He comes from complete performance and not desperation.
We all know how most rock and movie stars are addicted to adulation and the spotlight. Forget the drugs. After all even mass killers want that same klieg lighted moment. Currently Madonna's new album is bombing. The tour dates aren't selling out and her core gay fan base has left the auditorium for Lady Gaga.

I have a feeling that Lady Gaga (who is more talented, smarter and seemingly nicer than dear old Madge) will not end up this way. She seems to have more personal resources than cone bras and ex-boytoy boyfriends as back up dancers. Yet what is an old girl suppose to do?  Take it from Debbie Reynolds who has no shame performing anywhere with a piano and a gown. Soon there will be plenty of Baby Boomer Assisted Living lobbies to play.  But I am not sure the T&A would still work.
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