You know you struck a cultural and political nerve when a week after a stirring and defiant speech at the historic Women’s March on Washington January 21, people are still talking, debating, and pissed off about it. Love it or hate it, Madonna’s speech was a rousing success.
As a gay man in my 40s, I have followed (sometimes rabidly) Madonna’s career since its immaculate conception. I’m not embarrassed to admit I once had my entire teenage bedroom plastered with floor-to-ceiling Madonna pictures and posters. There is no pre-Madonna era in my memories. Her songs have scored each decade of my life, and her provocative antics have joyfully titillated and shocked me.
I’m a fan of not just her music, not just her talent, but of the person. I love that she challenges unrighteous authority, takes risks in expressing views contrary to unjust social norms, and is unapologetically herself. She is a rebel in the best sense of the word.
Madonna being under fire for her language, her music, her videos, her imagery, her performances, you name it, really, is nothing new. This is a woman whose career has always ridden the precarious wave of both critique and praise. What is new, however, is how Madonna is now using her legendary status as an entertainment icon to boldly lead a newly founded rebellion against President Trump and his administration.
Madonna’s address at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., has moved well beyond that one triumphant moment. Her speech has now seeped into our cultural divide; it has become more than just the words she uttered. It has transcended just that one protest on that one Saturday in front of hundreds of thousands of protesters. It’s now become a global taking point, a direct reflection of two political schools of thought.
Because if there is one thing misogynistic men in power hate most — men who minimize and dehumanize women by summing up their entire worth based on their genitals and one’s ability to grab said genitals at will — is a woman who dares to stand up and speak out.
We need a mouthpiece strong enough to offend and inspire, uplift and challenge, and excite and energize a movement still in its infancy. Because of these very reasons, I’d like to assign Madonna a title, as homage to the late, great, never forgotten Princess Leia. A title that is not linked to her Queen of Pop or Material Girl monikers, but one that is more that reflective of the Madonna today: General Madonna, Voice of the Trump Resistance.
I realize she was not and is not the only voice at the protest worthy of assuming the title, but in the interest of this essay, it fits.
To the various dissenters, I offer the following defense on behalf of my new general. To former 1980s pop rival Cyndi Lauper, who took to the airwavess to critize Madonna, I say, girl, couldn’t you have discussed your issues diva to diva rather than through the media?
I mean, I get and agree that “clarity and humanity” is usually better than anger any day, as Cyndi put it. Thoughtful discussion is always a better way than screaming and yelling. Except, you know, in a budding movement meant to fire up the participants. In this instance a more measured and gentle approach would probably not have generated the attention Madonna’s f bomb-laden “rebellion of love” did. In this moment, at this rally, a rousing, angry speech, crass as it was, is totally acceptable.
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