Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Madge was never my role model ...

She was never actually on my radar much.  A male friend of mine adored and still adores her.  He has always claimed to enjoy his "Madonnarama" of marathon Madonna music.  Sure, she was an icon of the '80s (my generation), but I was more of a Pat Benatar person.

It simply annoys me to still read so much about her in modern press.  I'll give her the fact that she branded herself well enough to still be relevant now, and she is super versatile in re-inventing her image.  But it was probably the Britanny kiss that changed my mind about her.  In my opinion, it was no different than wanna-be lesbians getting attention in a bar or party setting by kissing each other.  Pure "look at me" syndrome.  It's attention whoring.

Now Madonna is back ... again.  She's popping up in pop culture "news" because of her new album.  She's getting attention, so good for her.  It just pisses me off to have women of a certain age being referred to as menopausal, as it that is a classification for them.  

Madonna's Mighty Menopausal Comeback, Still Sexy or Still Selling Sex

These types of articles also beg the question, why do women have to use sex to sell themselves (literally and figuratively).  I don't think shaking your ass or spreading your legs in a video is role-model material.  As I've said before, it's all about perfection and touting an image that an aging woman can still be "viable" if she looks good enough.  

That has been the case all throughout movie history.  A film where an older woman is with a younger man, ala "The Graduate," is all about a so-called cougar (*gagging on that word*) chasing a kid.  Of course, the woman has to look especially good, like Mrs. Robinson in her day, to be able to score the man-ling.  It makes me think of the beautiful Julie Christie and a young Jonny Lee Miller in the '90s flick Afterglow.  Their affair, and her age, were central to the story line.

However, any movie -- and they're usually all doing it -- about an older man involved with a young woman is just a plain ol' movie.  Case in point, the biggie, is 1999's Entrapment with Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones and a 39-year difference in their ages.  Whoa.  Their love affair was a bit of an issue but not the central plot line.  There's The Island from 2005 with Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson, and the 13-year differences in their ages ... not a factor.  Another is Knight and Day from 2010 with Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise and their 10-year age gap ... not a big deal.  In 2011's Crazy, Stupid, Love, at least Ryan Gosling only has eight years on Emma Stone.  And relatively closer in age were Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks, paired in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, in 2011 with only nine years  between their ages.  These older leading men with young leading women are totally commonplace and hardly, if ever, mentioned within the plot or any hype surrounding the films.  Why is this?

Which leads me to the menopause issue ... none of these iconic males are ever gigged for their ages.  Neither are they ridiculed for wrinkles or fat.  The timeline of a male's presence on earth is never considered relevant, much less a factor regarding his talent or notoriety.  Is there a male menopause they'll reach when their age will be a topic of conversation?  Hell to the no.  Their body chemistry is certainly never mentioned in any headline about a "come back" to fame.  

We all age.  Celebrities are human, and they age, too.  The viewing/listening masses would like to think these people are super human and do not grow old or go to ruin.  Except women AGE and men mature.  Males become more distinguished ... Sean Connery, hello ... or sexy with age, or so people say.

Maybe Madge is considered a role-model type because of her brazen behavior and against-the-grain choices made throughout her career.  And she seems to be intelligent when interviewed.  I just don't agree with the "shake your money maker" attitude of fame.  It comes with a high price, self-respect and dignity among those costs.  Pretty soon you're kissing a young woman at an awards show to stay in the headlines and placed as the butt of menopause jokes later.  If these women let the criticism wear on them enough, they may end up still grasping for perfection but in re-hab with Demi Moore as a result of their frantic efforts to look young and keep partying to feel young for the moment.  

No man has had to publicly defend his Peter Pan syndrome (except maybe Chaz Sheen), a weak prostate, or use of erectile dysfunction aids.  He's instead applauded as a renaissance man with a solid body of work in his past.  His face, gut, and butt stay virtually off the radar.  His "change of life" doesn't suffer a public examination.    

It's the human condition.  We all grow older, and our bodies change.  We can all rage against these facts, but aging remains a factual circumstance all the same.

I hope the newer generations evolve enough to try to equal such gender disparity in general and hyper-criticism of women specifically in the media.  Sure, lofty hopes but we can only try to set things right.  How can any of us be role models for children otherwise? 

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