Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The times they are a changin'

Summer, 1983: Madonna bursts onto the music scene. I am just about to turn fourteen. Video is a brand new medium, and she uses it to her advantage, wearing edgy clothes that appeal to teen girls who want to be like her, and teen boys who want to date her. Parents, spurred on by the media, start freaking out. Then comes the "Like a Virgin" album.

It was LIKE a virgin, people. It wasn't a song about losing your virginity - it was a song about feeling as if everything is new.

I made it through the wilderness
somehow I made it through
didn't know how lost I was
until I found you

Like a virgin was a SIMILE, but most people didn't listen carefully enough to get that. I got it. I saw her as someone who was courageous, and went for what she wanted. And I've still got my "Virgin Tour 2005" T-shirt to prove it.

April 2010: Glee runs an "all Madonna" episode, using music from each decade of her career. They call her "empowered" and "empowering". They said she was a strong female role model.

So, what happened? Did she prove herself over the years through her staying power and constant reinvention? Did people start listening more carefully? Did anything really change? Does she just look tame now in comparison to today's video stars? Or are the "they" who are declaring her a role model just middle aged people like me who grew up with her?