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Madonna's political views: is she living the “American Dream”?
   
 
 
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Madonna's political views: is she living the “American Dream”?

 
Monday, 15 November 2010 12:22
 
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by Nicolamaria Coppola (EPOS)
EPOS Insights

Eclectic and chameleon, proud, bold, unconventional and nonconformist, capable of inflaming minds and masses and able to remain at the top for almost thirty years, the Queen of Pop was born fifty-two years ago in Bay City, in the State of Michigan, and she is the daughter of first generation Italian immigrants. Her grandfather, Gaetano Ciccone, worked hard and he was actively involved in politics to obtain more civil rights and to improve the living conditions of workers in factories .

It is believed that Madonna inherited this sense of justice from her grandfather, transferring it into her political commitment and explicit support towards the Democratic Party. In the early Nineties, for example, she filmed a PSA (a public interest   announcement) for the U.S. campaign "Rock The Vote"; the movement was promoted by MTV, and it led to a twenty percent increase in youth participation in the 1992 elections. Moreover, on the eve of the war in Iraq, in 2003, Madonna openly expressed her opposition to George W. Bush, inviting her fans to go and see Michael Moore's controversial documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. In 2004 she also supported the democratic nomination for Wesley Clark's presidential election by launching a heart felt appeal: "The future I want for my children is in danger. " Two years later she expressed her support for Hillary Clinton Presidency at the White House.

Since the beginning of her career, Madonna has always been a woman politically engaged in promoting respect towards law and justice, sense of duty and discipline,. Madonna always sides with the weak and minorities; she supports them and she is the spokeswoman of those who are outcasts in society. She attacks political leaders and ranks in the forefront against war and violence. In her music and her artistic performances Ms Ciccone talks about what it means to be a woman, using simple terms and clear words. Madonna has become a religious icon thanks to her music, her strange and luminous beauty, combined with her captivating energy and theatrical performances. With the nickname “Immaculate Conception”, given to her by Rupert Everett,  the American popstar is now acclaimed all over the world by thousands of fan and venerated as a real goddess.

Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone  has been conveying ideas and values for twenty years, she had conveyed the social and political issues of  the three decades in which she has been active. Madonna is the full realization, the emblem of the “American Dream”: she is a self made woman, she has built her own  fortune and has always been grateful to America’s culture and society. Madonna has always had an unconventional and nonconformist attitude, both within her family life and in her public life  from the moment she became an international pop star. Madonna has never been afraid of expressing her ideas and her opinions. She has always rejected the clichés that her Puritan family had imposed, and she has always disagreed with the ruling class when the ruling class was pursuing something she did not share. In her 2003 music single “American Life” she screams to the world her desire and willingness to express her point of view. She clearly says: “I’d like to express my extreme point of view”.

Madonna has repeatedly adopted political connotations. In the Eighties she became the megaphone of the minority instances for feminist and homosexual, in contrast to the conservative policies of Ronald Reagan. She clearly screams to the entire world the yuppie culture programmatic hymn  “Greedy is good”. In the early 80’s, money was the driving force of the American society: Madonna symbolizes this new identity at best. At the end of the decade Madonna broke with  the Pope and the American Catholic Right because of her new album “Like a Prayer”, an album permeated by the liturgical terminology, the presence of numerous crucifixes and lots of religious themes mixed with explicit sexual references. Throughout the Nineties Madonna became a symbol of transgression and totally broke with the politically correct American society. Madonna started to play an elaborate game of Duty/Truth with the world and with herself. With every project – from “Justify My Love”, The Blonde Ambition Tour, the documentary  In Bed with Madonna until her book Sex – the singer sets out a research journey, overcoming her previous stages of nudity  and psychodrama. “Justify My Love” was the lead single of The Immaculate Collection, Madonna’s first Greatest Hits. This song offered Madonna a new creative way which allowed her to venture into a more “adult”, off limits,  territory. Steven Meisel took some pictures of her for the “Rolling Stone” magazine in which Madonna dances and at the same time caresses the backside of a girl who wears her hair short resembling a male figure, all this wearing suit and tie and a straight Twenties hair style. Because of its provocative nature, the video of “Justify My Love” was banned by and from Mtv.

Madonna discovered Kabbalah in 1996 and embraced this new system of beliefs. After having conquered spirituality, Madonna leaves behind the dark years of Erotica and Sex. She is no longer the sadomasochistic Mistress who went against everything and everyone, she is no longer willing to create scandal with her ambiguous and non conformist behavior. Madonna becomes a caring mother and falls fully into this new role. Her main aim is to spread the philosophy of love, respect, loyalty and justice, values in which she believes and which she demands be respected. It is from this moment on that Madonna begins to take on strong political connotations which reach their climax the day after the attacks on the World Trade Center, and especially after Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.

Since 2001, the year of the tragic attacks on New York and Washington, Madonna has been more politically engaged than in the previous years: she openly supports the Democratic Party and its candidates for the White House; she begins a battle against Bush and his decision on foreign policy; she sides against the war in Iraq; she is moved by the election of Barack Obama and rejoices at the defeat of the Republicans, hoping in a better future for the United States of America. Her behaviors and ways of thinking  have always created many problems for the pop star, who has literally been censored more than one.

If the prohibitions of the Taliban and some fundamentalist fringe of the Islamic world do not surprise us a lot, the blacklists in act in the democratic United States leave us speechless and puzzled. No one knows, but even in the most democratic country in the world censorship is operative. Especially after the September 11 political dissent was outlawed because cohesion, unity, union were required to fight the enemy and defeat those who had tried to bring America down. Therefore even the world of music, which has always been a megaphone of political and social values and issues, inevitably suffers.

Singers, artists and the major record companies are nearly forced to conform to Bush’s administration to avoid being boycotted or banned. Censorship once again cancels illustrious people in the name of political correctness. Songs with words like “war”, “planes”, “death”, “explosion” or “fire” are deleted from radio and television playlists. Some singers are labeled by the press and the American society due to their opposition to Bush’s foreign policy.

The Dixie Chicks, a country all female band, were the protagonists of the most disturbing and dramatic censorial intervention. The band became the subject of a hate campaign when the singer Natalie Maines, the leader of the band, declared her opposition to Bush. During one of their live shows in London she openly shouted out to the crowd that the Dixie Chicks were ashamed that President Bush was born in their own State, Texas. As a result the band received death threats, saw theri music banned by many radios and lost a large chunk of country audience. The three artists were marked as Dixie Sluts or Saddam’s Angels. Other well known artists like  Jon Bon Jovi, Mary J. Blige, Bruce Springsteen condemned the war in Iraq just like the Dixie Chicks. Even Madonna, who was against this war,  changed and then withdrew her video “American Life”   from circulation.

“American Life” is a hard disruptive album; it is a folk album in the purest sense of the term. After the excesses and the transgressions of the Nineties’, Madonna achieves spirituality thanks to Kabbalah , and as a consequence her world and her life take a different turn. Madonna is no longer satisfied by the American culture, and she turns her back on it. This is the breaking point between Madonna and the society which had given her notoriety and fame. American culture no longer responded to the needs and the interrogatives of a woman who had a new role in society. She is now a protective mother, a religious wife and a new woman. Madonna no longer feels justly represented by the ruling class. Madonna says that  the “American Dream” is gone forever. Madonna’s new priorities are different with respect to those she had in the Eighties and Nineties: now they are warmth, security, , life, family and her homeland. After September 11 all these values seem right.

For her new album “American Life” Madonna opted for a new resolute image. Just like she did in 1989 for “Like a Prayer” dying her hair brown, she proposes the classical Sixties’ image of the Argentine guerilla Che Guevara on the cover of “American Life” to give herself a more serious aspect. With a black beret and the color of the anarchy she becomes a revolutionary Madonna. The  photo shoot of the album, created by Craig McDean, draws inspiration from a notorious Seventies photo of the heiress Patty Hearst, who was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army.

The lyrics of “American Life” do not contain references to Bush, the war in Iraq and the political situation in the States. Madonna never pronounces the name of the President of the USA, she is never in favor or in opposition to his doctrine and policy. Nevertheless, the song causes an uproar.. The reason is due to the aura created around the new album to promote it, Madonna’s choice to represent a modern Che Guevara who fights to defend her aim, the realization of a music video with clear and explicit references to the current political situation, and a video which plays dangerously with war imagery.

The “American Life” video is a continuation of the provocative work of the CD booklet where Madonna, dressed as a warrior, wears an Uzi, an Israel origin machine-gun, and assuming various martial arts poses, she forms the letters of her name. In the video, filmed on February 6 and 7, 2003, in Los Angeles, about a month before the outbreak of war in Iraq, Madonna is an armed and resistance guerilla, with her assault team, who fires, from the walkway, to the crowd of a fake fashion show. There are violent scenes of war, explosions and deaths. At the end of the video, which still remains contested, the pop star launches a grenade towards a George W. Bush double who is sitting beside a double of Saddam Hussein. The USA President catches the grenade and with it lights a cigar. It is with this cigar that Bush is going to burn the whole world.

In an interview on the “Access Hollywood TV” Madonna says that her video is a statement against the war, but not necessarily against the war in Iraq. She proclaims herself against all wars and confides in world peace. The main problem was not the video itself but the moment the video came out. On march 20, 2003, America had just declared the beginning of the “Iraqi Freedom” with the objective of destroying Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons. To lower the tone of her political rhetoric which had became too high, driven by national and international press, Madonna chose to withdraw the video from circulation. And the video “American Life” was never aired. It remained unknown to people for several years, because it was also removed by and from YouTube. The video is now back in circulation; today you can see it even if the last part is still blocked.

In spite of the problems and difficulties that her actions have caused, Madonna is the biggest female artist of all times. With 450 million records sold around the world, Madonna is the sole and undisputed Queen of Pop. Just like the icon whose name she bears, Madonna is bound to eternity!

Last modified on Tuesday, 10 July 2012 22:08
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