Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Madonna's Big Hangup

Madonna's latest tour which recently played in Rome has a moment where she elevates herself up on this huge cross. The Vatican reacted as expected by condemning the show as blasphemous. Apparently doing this in Rome heightened the offense, because Rome, they say, is the cradle of Christianity. Here we go again with the not our back yard because we are more moral than you speech. (aka NIOBYWMMTYS - pronounced NeeObeeWimmisTiss)

Madonna as a person I find very interesting, the music not so much. She weighs the risks and rewards of offending people and almost always reaps the rewards of increased publicity. The Vatican and other religious leaders do not always properly weigh the risks of reacting to every offensive piece of art that comes along. Mostly they end up looking like they have far too much time on their hands. Madonna hanging on a glittery cross is the low hanging fruit of outrage. I think of it as a poor use of mental energy in a very very troubled world.

Eventually we will all be senior citizens. The young folk will view Madonna the same way we view Lawrence Welk. There will be review shows with Madonna impersonators hanging themselves on crosses playing to drunk seniors in Las Vegas and Canmore. We'll take a swig of hooch and say man those were the days. Our children will be embarassed when they come to visit us in our seniors residences and there is some 80 year old re-enacting Madonna's crossapalooza and everyone's singing along to Like A Virgin in warbly seniors voices. Many will wander off into the woods when its 30 below. What we find sacriligious and edgy today will someday be the backdrop to a Depends commercial. Maybe Madonna will become an incontinence spokesperson.

With Madonna's upcoming concerts in Germany, the German government is apparently going to watch her to see if she violates any one of the numerous laws regarding the insulting of religions. The German people must be very proud that they have a Government that cares enough about them that they can divert law enforcement people from the War on Terrors to keep an eye on Madonna. Keeping an eye on Madonna would be hard hard work. Hero's work, really. I picture two state security types sitting in the back row inconspicuously watching for any sign of blaspemy. The one guys says, Hey, is'nt that Osama bin Laden over there?, the other guy says, Shush. I think she just said God is Dead.

The other thing I don't understand is why the Muslim and Jewish leaders in Italy were also outraged by the performance. Are they swarming? Have they formed some kind of blasphemy reciprocity treaty. I like it better when someone insulted Christianity and some Jewish leader would shrug his shoulders and say, well he was never really our first choice for Messiah you know. The world is upside down if you can't even rely on interfaith bad will anymore. It also occurred to me - and the next part is a little delicate to express - it occurred to me that Jews and Muslims might just be a little jealous because they don't have anything quite as spectacular as the crucifixion and resurrection. Moses and Mohammed both died quietly after long lives. Moses did record the details of his own death in the latter part of the book of Deuteronomy which is rather stunning. But it is no stone rolling resurrection.

We pause here for a joke from our sponsor:

Masochist: Hey, can you help me nail myself to this cross?
Sadist: Nope.

I think the only fair way to look at this is to acknowledge that no one person or groups owns the symbols of a religion or culture. After 2000 years of having Christian symbolism embedded in our collective unconscious there are innumerable ways those symbols will show up in art. Not all will appeal to everyone. Would you rather have Madonna vogueing on a fake cross, or, someone lighting a cross on fire on your lawn?

If I were Madonna's choreographer (which would be sooo gay) I would suggest she put Bush and Blair effegies on smaller crosses on either side. After all, Christ was crucified between two criminals. For an encore I'd have some dance routine that represents Michael Moore being fed to the Olson Twins. Please recommend this post

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