Featured Post


I am posting this as a benchmark, not because I think I'm playing very well yet.  The idea would be post a video every month for a ye...

Friday, April 2, 2021

Madonna studies

 People did a lot of academic work on Madonna back in the day, when she had emerged as a formidable pop star. It seems a bit embarrassing now. Not that she is not a formidable presence in pop music, with a well-deserved career, but that the sort of claims made for her sound exaggerated, like deconstructing Western civilization as a whole {"rewriting some very fundamental levels of Western thought"]. Feminist readings of her had to actively discount the way she played into male fantasies. One feminist musicologist claimed that she didn't appeal to the male heterosexual imagination at all, to which I wanted to say, 'how would you know?'  It would be like me claiming that she never had an empowering effect on any woman listener. 

It's also embarrassing that it is only Madonna. In other words, she became a kind of token object of study, adored by people who had no interest in any other form of popular culture. I remember people being skeptical even at the time Madonna Studies was emerging as a field. African Americans and some feminists resented the attention paid to her. She gets lionized for something that African American women had already done, in a kind of 'great white hope' narrative. McClary: "what we do need: a white woman musician who can create images of desire ... " Ouch.  

1 comment:

Thomas Basbøll said...

Norman Mailer's interview with her, as I recall, is a great example of this problem. His interest wasn't scholarly, but his attempt to make it "literary" fell pretty flat.