May 14, 2009

Tale of Two Divas

Camille Paglia opines:
Having followed Madonna's career with enthusiasm and then disappointment for the past 25 years, it's difficult for me to avoid making comparisons. Madonna and Daniela (seven years younger) are both theatrical Leos who were born in provincial obscurity, began their careers as dancers and became singers and major impresarios of their own troupes. Madonna remains the most visible performer on the planet, as well as one of the wealthiest, but would anyone seriously say that artistic self-development is her primary motivating principle? She is too busy with Kabbalah, fashion merchandising, adoption melodramas, the gym, and ill-starred horseback riding to study art. Madonna can still produce a catchy pop song, but she hasn't expanded her artistic vocabulary since the 1990s. Her concerts are glitzy extravaganzas of special effects overkill. She leaves little space in them for emotional depth or unscripted rapport with the audience.

Compare the two photos, above. Daniela, holding her 2007 Latin Grammy award, is, despite her excitement, warm, open and observant. Guess what: Daniela, unlike Madonna, actually recognizes the existence of human beings in the real world outside her ego. She has a graceful, natural, ripe womanliness (she has two grown children and recently became a grandmother), but there is often an undercurrent of something boyish, mischievous and subversive. Energy, spontaneity, humor, candor and hospitality are leading values for Daniela onstage and off...

Now behold Madonna, arriving muscular and veiny-armed at the Vanity Fair party after this year's Oscars in Los Angeles. Trying to be fair, I am not posting the horror candids of a skeletal Madonna in gym rags, nor am I showing her glassy-eyed at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame Awards last year, when she was reeling through a bad pre-divorce patch. But Madonna, like Joan Crawford or the late Marlene Dietrich, has become a mask whose eyes see nothing but itself. Her life, for all her globe-hopping, has become rigid, predetermined, suspicious and claustrophobic. Despite her spiritual talk, Madonna is a voracious materialist and status-monger who is as addicted as Leni Riefenstahl to her triumph of the will. Persons have become mere instruments to her -- which is why she cannot communicate with them heart-to-heart. And it is why Madonna's creativity has tragically withered.

5 comments:

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

If Madonna hadn't switched artistry for spectacle, her musical journey would have led her back to the Church yonks ago.

TS said...

I don't know...James Joyce never left artistry and never came back to the Church.

I think Paglia is a bit unfair comparing Madonna to Danielle is a bit unfair given Madonna is seven years older and isn’t Latin. Latins tend to be less rigid. One need only look at the Lutherans in Minnesota compared to your average Brazillian. I'm just sayin', as they say.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Yes, but . . . (How do I put this diplomatically?)Madonna is both an artist and a whore. (There is no way to put it diplomatically!) That is, she is a media whore (at the very least!). =P Over the centuries, the Church has proven irresistibly attractive to whores, who then repent and become saints. If she would just look at the Church with an artist's eyes again . . .

On the other hand, I doubt that Joyce was a whore. ;)

TS said...

Very interesting...I agree with your characterizations of Joyce and Madonna, but wonder why the Church would be especially attractive to whores? I think possibly because whoring is more difficult than art to use in order to create a substitute religion.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

C'est possible!
Now it has occurred to me that, with the modern divorce between art and tradition running parallel to the modern divorce between the unitive and procreative goods of sex, fewer and fewer artists and whores may make the necessary connections to reach the ultimate good. =S