Many of her contemporaries (or past stars who shared the same level of fame) have died of drug overdoses, but Madonna is turning 57 years old this weekend. For most, turning 57 is a celebration. For Madonna, it’s an excuse for the media to mock her, shame her, and make her feel that the only way she will be accepted is if she gains 50 pounds, wears a flower dress, and eats bonbons all day while catching old episodes of The Golden Girls.
You see, the problem to many people is that Madonna simply doesn’t “act her age.” Madonna had something to say to those people when she was interviewed by Entertainment Tonight.
“I am acting my age. This is me, this is how I wanna be. I can do what I want, OK?… There’s no rules, and people should just leave me alone. Let me do what I wanna do. I shouldn’t be limited by my age or a number.”
Never mind that people rarely produce the same vitriol aimed at Madonna for Mick Jagger, who was seen putting a microphone in his pants during a Los Angeles concert in 2013. Bruce Springsteen hasn’t had anything that can be considered even close to being a hit since 1997’s “Secret Garden,” but nobody told him to “put it away” when he did a pelvic thrust towards a camera operator at the 2009 Super Bowl. Let’s not even get into Anthony Kiedis being almost half naked at the 2014 Super Bowl.
“But they have talent and Madonna doesn’t” is usually what you will hear from her critics to justify their ageism and misogyny. Considering Madonna writes her own melodies, her own lyrics, and is the top-selling female artist in music history, that statement itself is misogynist. Besides, there’s a lot of proof when it comes to Madonna’s talent. She’s a great vocalist, a great songwriter, and an amazing live performer.
Not all of the criticism towards Madonna is ageist. Michael Arceneaux from VH1 wrote a passionate essay about why Madonna’s late career problems go beyond ageism. The essay brings up some valid points that Madonna’s die-hard fans want to ignore. Then, there was that performance with Drake at Coachella in April. Though it’s likely that Drake purposely used the event to age-shame Madonna and make himself look good, Madonna might just as well have worn a “Kick Me!” sign. The performance was embarrassing and it had nothing to do with her age.
It’s also not wrong to criticize Madonna’s musical output since 2008: Even though MDNA or Hard Candy weren’t bad albums, they just didn’t live up to Madonna’s standards. They are three-and-a-half star albums that get put down a lot because Madonna is used to making four-star albums. However, 2015’s Rebel Heart, for the most part, is an absolute return to form and even music reviewers agree.
Madonna’s critics will point to the low sales of the Rebel Heart album to convince the world that Madonna is “over with.” However, the fact that an album that leaked and was widely available for downloading three months before its official release can still sell almost one million copies worldwide proves that Madonna is still the Queen of Pop. Many supposed “artists” over the years have threatened to take over her throne, but Madonna is always the one standing tall (even though she is physically short) in the end.
Photo by Michael Stewart / WireImage (for Getty Images)]