In 2012, I made a trip to New York just to catch Madonna on her MDNA tour. The lacklustre concert lasted an hour, even though the restless crowd at Yankee Stadium was made to wait two hours, with no opening act to boot. I remember thinking after the concert, on the subway ride from the Bronx back to Manhattan: "She's finally lost it."
I had had that same thought some years earlier, though. In 1992, when she released her Sex book, filled with explicit and provocative pictures of herself, I wondered if she had finally scraped rock-bottom in her barrel of ideas. I wondered if this was the beginning of the end.
Since then, though, there have been other doomsday scenarios involving the world's second top recording artist (after the Beatles). But each time you feel like she's going to pack it in, she comes back bigger and badder, if not better.
Just earlier this month, the woman made headlines when Interview magazine published bondage-themed photographs of her by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggot, including one where her bare breasts were on full display.
While some yawned that she was recycling old ideas yet again, the truth is she is still daring you to ignore her and provoking you to react. After all, a bare- chested 56-year-old elicits a completely different kind of response, compared to a bare-chested 34-year-old.
The truth is this: It's been 32 years since Madonna unleashed her first single, Everybody, on the world. Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj hadn't even been born yet; Beyonce was just a year old. Their types have come and gone over the decades. But Madonna is still playing in the same super league.
She has not imploded, gone to seed or hied herself to a nunnery. As she proudly proclaims in one of her newly released tunes, a collaboration with Minaj, B****, I'm Madonna. And don't you forget it - you, sitting in front of your television in your mum jeans.
B****, I'm Madonna and five other tracks, which were meant to be on her upcoming March album, Rebel Heart, have just been made available on iTunes, no thanks to an egregious leak of 13 unfinished demos which Madge has decried as "a form of terrorism" and "artistic rape". All the tracks have promptly gone to No. 1 in 41 countries, however, which must numb the pain a little. In fact, if you ask cynical me, the timing of the whole kerfuffle seems a bit too fortuitous. Controversial photos, check. Leaked material, check. Christmas, check. Ka-ching, check, check, checkmate.
But, when it comes to Madonna, I, for one, am ready to be played for a sucker. While my devotion to her may have waned over the years, she is still constantly on my radar, for better or for worse. More importantly for me, perhaps, she continues to evolve as a feminist role model.
While she has always been known for her hard work, discipline and strength, she is also now becoming a beacon for those of us who are well past our halcyon days. Today, as she did in the beginning, Madonna still swears like a sailor and flaunts her body, while thinking like a corporation and smashing gender stereotypes.
As she crosses her mid-50s, however, ageism is the new barrier she must confront. Is the world ready for a sexy sexagenarian?
You'd probably be better off asking someone else. My guess is Maddie is too busy to bother with what you think. B****. firstname.lastname@example.org
Ong Soh Chin is a freelance writer and public relations consultant.
This article was first published on Dec 23, 2014.
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