I wanted Madonna to smash ageism like she’s smashed everything else…
It gives me no pleasure to write this, but I think things are over between me and M. I’ve been in love with her since I was 16, but as the kids say, I just can’t with her any more.
Why? Is it the weird bum? The filters? The fact that she looks like every other influencer on Instagram? Well, sort of. But it’s more fundamental than that.
Madonna was the ultimate rule-breaker. The girl you knew would get you into trouble, who’d be the first one to challenge something. She seemed indestructible, and I loved her for her devil-may-care attitude. She trampled across the world, smashing taboos and upsetting everyone from the Catholic Church to the men who wanted to tame her. She famously said she wanted to ‘rule the world’. She kinda came close.
I loved watching her change, and grow, and metamorphosize. I particularly loved watching her make a comeback in the nineties, and kick up dust and disco in her 40s and 50s. And yeah, I know she’d had work done by then, but she still looked, you know, like Madonna. I thought she was ageing well. Go girl. Show us how it’s done.
So, I realise that this is about me and my expectations, which isn’t fair. But I wanted Madonna to break the ultimate taboo and blaze a trail for the future. I wanted her to age defiantly, and stick two fingers up by being different, and not fall into the trap of desperately trying to stay young. I envisaged her ageing like a Bette Davis or Katharine Hepburn type, all pithy and without any fucks given. And instead, what do we have?
Reader, you know what we have. I’m not going to slate her; it’s ageist in itself to rip her to shreds for her choices, and she’s getting enough of that shit already. We all know what the deal is. I watched a live performance she gave with Maluma recently and found myself looking through my fingers like it was a horror film. It was a car crash in slow motion. Suffice to say that the Madonna we see on Instagram is completely different to the one we see live on stage, or in pap photos without filters.
Her live appearance is SO different, in fact, that I’m surprised she still does it. I could imagine her going on from here, disappearing into a digital-only world, going full Norma Desmond, luring younger and younger men to her lair.
It’s a shame, because she had the power and the reach to really make a massive difference. To bust a cap in the naturally saggy ass of ageism. And I’m gutted, although it’s obviously her choice to take the road more travelled. I feel sorry for her really. In 2016 – literally a few years and a thousand procedures ago – she said in her acceptance speech for Billboard’s Woman of the Year award: “The most controversial thing I’ve done is stick around.” I think if she’d wanted to be REALLY controversial, she could have ‘got older’. But in showbiz that’s a lot to ask.
One of the best things about Madonna was her face – it wasn’t traditionally beautiful, but it was a face with impact and character. Now, not so much. I don’t honestly know if I’d be able to pick her out of a line-up of influencers, with the plumped lips, the filters, the alien face shape. I mean, you do you, girl. But what happened to swimming against the tide?
At a time when it was controversial, she stood up as an activist, voice, and massive fundraiser for the gay community, ripped apart by HIV and AIDS. There’s been Raising Malawi, and the Ray of Light Foundation, as well as over thirty other causes she supports. In an interview with People Magazine, she famously said, “Helping people is like tattoos. Once you get a tattoo, you keep getting them. It’s addicting. You see the difference you’re making in one person’s life, so what’s the big deal if I help one more person, and one more person?”
So how about making some inroads into smashing through the ageism wall kiddo? Let’s really break some rules. Perhaps the most taboo of them all.
Sam is founder and Editor-in-Chief of Silver Magazine – for the mature maverick
Pic: Ronald S Woan