Monday, September 7, 2009

Do you know your pop culture?

I sure don't . . . but, before long, thanks to a Netflix and Rhapsody membership and the guidance offered by EW Pop Culture University, I'll finally be itk. Check it out:,,20284496,00.html
So excited. Maybe for once I'll have something to say at those darned holiday open houses.
Publish Post

Madonna, Tori Amos, and feminism: Like a Prayer, the missing link

Yep, that's right. I was listening to "Like a Prayer," and Madonna's fervent cooing on the verses sound a whole bunch like Tori Amos. And since Madonna came first, it would be more appropriate to say that Tori has been copying Madonna's style. Honestly, the similarity is striking.

Here's why that similarity is noteworthy.

Madonna is often criticized for being sleazy and sensational in the worst kind of show-biz way. In fact, to my father she is the devil incarnate. No joke. To discover a link between her and the more "principled" 90s feminist singer-songwriters that followed her proves a point about her music that I have always felt: it has a philosophy and it's about self-expression. Don't get me wrong, I'll admit Madonna has pushed buttons in her day just to get attention. But I think there's a lot more to it than that underlying her art.

What Madonna is being sexual, it's not in the Britney Spears-ish "I'm a slave 4 u" way. It's in the feminist-ish "I'm gonna be sexual if I wanna be sexual; sex is a choice I'm making and it's not about me pleasing some guy, it's about me getting some because I want some." Photo shoots like that of her infamous bridal dress pose prove that Madonna has been passionate about turning conventions on their heels and breaking down the cultural assumptions that women should behave and feel a certain way, be sexual in a certain way . . . i.e. in a sweet, chaste, naive sort of way. Now, I have no problem with women and being sweet and naive but where I part ways with those who can't stand Madonna is that I don't believe women should have to be sweet, chaste, and naive. Sleazy is never cool, but I don't necessarily equate sexuality with sleaze and I believe, as a matter of principle, that our concept of "woman" should be a wide umbrella encompassing a variety of personalities and lifestyles. I think that's what Madonna was getting after.

Does Madonna go to extremes that may be distasteful at times? Yes, she does. But that's what artists do. They can't be subtle. If they're subtle, they'll bore you and likely fail to communicate their point. The job of an artist is to shake things up, to take risks that are not allowed in any other forum. Go Madonna!

Now, back to the 90's singer-songwriter Tori Amos connection. Tori put out an autobiography a few years ago and talked about her conflicted relationship with sexuality. Apparently, she was raised Catholic or Southern Baptist or something and, basically, felt guilty about her sexual instincts. She describes herself being torn between the two biblical figures of the Virgin Mary and the prostitute Mary Magdalene. She came up with some new-ageish sounding solution to reconciling the two in her mind which I have since forgotten: I think it was just her fancy way of admitting that she ultimately sided with Mary Magdalene (without admitting it). Anyway, doesn't Madonna's music sound like something that would speak to Tori at, dare I say it, a deep level?

I always felt and liked the feminist agenda in Madonna's music and so does Tori, I know it.

I never wanna hear one more comment equating the mindless pop stars of the '00s with Madonna. I'm warning you, don't push me over the edge this time. Or it will start raining bloody tampons.