Here’s what Madonna is up to at the moment. It’s her film collaborative project with Steven Klein called secretprojectrevolution.
“My goal is to show by the example of secretprojectrevolution my creative commitment to inspire change in the world through artistic expression,” Madonna said, describing it. And look, that’s great. Lofty goals like freedom of artistic and political expression are really worthwhile but sometimes the way people speak about this kind of thing is just so empty.
I watched Jobs, the biopic about Steve Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher the other night and, my God, marketing people like Steve Jobs are full of crap sometimes. I mean, if they’d stuck one more fluffy, inspirational catch phrase in that movie about making changes to the world (eg. “Let’s make a dent in the universe”), it would have collapsed inward. And it was hinted at several times that Jobs didn’t actually do the real work when it came to actually building the technology he was marketing, he was just good at talking about it and creating something as an idea. Not that that is meaningless, but let’s not deify someone just because they can create buzz.
Secretprojectrevolution sort of reminds me of the same thing. In the first minute of the film she’s staring, seriously, at the screen from behind bars and saying nebulous things like “the enemy is within” as though it’s really anchored in something specific.
Thank you, Madonna, for your empathy about what it’s like to live in a world where “economic markets are collapsing”, but I simply don’t buy the image of you behind bars, suffering along with the rest of us. How much money did you make last year? 150 million dollars?
After three and a half minutes of waffling about the difficult parts of the world she saw during her “tour of duty” “this year”, she wonders aloud why people don’t take her seriously when she says she wants to start a revolution. I mean, I don’t know Madonna. Because of the way you’re talking about it? Because the phrase “start a revolution” is a cliché? Because this is, at best, a black and white video with a neat, edgy logo attached? In a world where people talk online about themselves and everything around them incessantly, to the point of madness, do we really need any more talking about change?
Wouldn’t some kind of political action or gesture that is less abstract and more about actually doing something make more of a difference? Like your work in Malawi, for example. Why not just do more of that or up the profile of it?
And the whole thing wouldn’t be SO bad if it didn’t look like a well-intentioned, extremely self indulgent, freshman art school video project. I mean, God, would you just lighten up, Madonna?
But rather than descend into a mindless, breathless, bitchy take-down of a celebrity, let’s just cool it a bit and give Madonna her due. She’s a fascinating woman, she still looks fantastic, she’s impacted the world in many important ways, it’s good that she’s not a drug addict or an alcoholic, she’s still working hard on projects she thinks are important for the world, and that’s fine. I just can’t with all this absurd empty catch-phrasing and these fluffy, stylized empty gestures that call for “change” and “community” and “expression”. The words hardly mean anything anymore. Give me something concrete for Christ’s sake.
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