The day is here, the Queen of Pop gets her bus pass. One thing we can be absolutely sure of is it won’t affect her one bit. She will continue in her quest of making individualism an art form, she will continue to be a scary figure to the establishment and she will continue to give absolutely zero fucks.
These days the world is too quick to dismiss Madonna as an older lady who wears skimpy clothes, I’m not sure why that is worthy of such aggression but the misogynist driven press has invented the game and people seem to be playing. So in honour of the Queen’s birthday, I thought it would be a perfect time to have a look back over the 35 years since she took the throne and to celebrate the achievements of this strong and powerful lady.
She’d been on the top of her game for a couple of years when the inevitable happened, photos of her naked emerged, taken as a life model when she was a hungry dancer in New York. Typically both Penthouse and Playboy ran them. Madonna wasn’t the first person this happened to but she was the first person to react with total indifference, no scandal here. The iconic headline from the New York Post read “I’m not ashamed” and the media twitched, this wasn’t expected. Not only that but Andy Warhol turned the headline into a piece of art and Madonna herself projected it above her massive stage for her stadium tour in 1987.
It is a problem Madonna has come up against time and again, she doesn’t fit the mould and she relishes it. Her song What It Feels Like For A Girl is an anthem on the plight of females in today’s society and her persona has unwaveringly been one of control and refusal to bow to the norm. In a world that tries to ridicule women for simply wanting equality, Madonna has had the mantra that you can be sexy and smart, successful yet flawed.
Did you know: She is the best-selling female artist of all time with over 250 million records sold.
Madonna has been a true advocate for the LGBT community and most importantly at a time when the rest of the world shunned us. At the height of the AIDS crisis when gay men were left to die alone on isolation wards, Madonna was performing AIDS benefits, she was making stars of her gay dancers, she wrote the heartfelt “In This Life” about the tragedy of losing two of her close friends to AIDS, she brought the party to the masses with Vogue showing there was more to the community than a disease and in so many interviews she promoted and supported LGBT rights.
That isn’t to say she’s rested on her laurels in recent years. In 2012 she received death threats and jail for promoting gay propaganda in Russia.
On a lighter note, her work often has a cheeky nod to the LGBT world, whether it’s a hanky in the pocket, an all-female tango club, drag queens, drag kings or Madge herself dressed as Dietrich or Monroe.
Did you know: Madonna was outraged by Scouts of America’s ban on gay members and turned up to an awards ceremony in full scout uniform to present Anderson Cooper with an award for promoting LGBT equality.
It is clear that over the years, Madonna has done many things that she expected and even relished a backlash for. Blond Ambition, the Sex book and more photo shoots than you can count, but one that she was clearly hurt by was the backlash when she adopted Malawian orphan David Banda.
Footage from the time shows a confused and hurt Madonna defending her choice to give a child in poverty a better life. Madonna being Madonna has gone on to adopt another three children and has put her money where her mouth is by building a hospital in Malawi as well as starting the successful Raising Malawi fund. Surprisingly she still gets flak for this work despite showing a twelve year commitment to Malawi as well as supporting over thirty different international charities including another foundation of her own, the Ray of Light foundation.
Did you know: Madonna was on her Drowned World Tour when the Sept 11 attacks happened, she immediately announced the next show would be a fund raiser for families affected, she collected money for Hurricane Sandy victims on her MDNA tour and played a “Tears of a Clown” concert in 2016, raising $7.5 million dollars for Raising Malawi.
The latest societal trend Madonna is waging a war on is ageism. She is clearly determined to give this the same treatment she gave sexism, racism and homophobia back in the day, she is going to totally bulldoze it. This is why Madonna in her 60s will be such a fascinating time. She looks incredible and she will continue to flaunt this I’m sure, just because she can. What I find confusing is when women (Jan Moir I’m looking at you) put her down for this. Surely she should be applauded for giving women an alternative option.
Did you know: Madonna made her feelings clear about her struggle with ageism when given the Billboard Woman of the Year Award in 2016, she said “People say I’m controversial. But I think the most controversial thing I have ever done is stick around”.
So many times the press and subsequently the rest of society have said that Madonna is a bad influence but that is lost on me. She is someone who embodies a strong work ethic, she is sure of herself, she is incredibly healthy and fit and doesn’t appear to be on drink or drugs, although the Daily Mail tried to write her off as a drunk on her last tour, good luck doing that show for two hours drunk. In a world where kids hero worship sex tape stars with no discernible talent, Madonna is anything but a bad influence. Just because she has an obsession with her lady garden and winding the Catholic church up, is that really all that bad?
Did you know: Want a body like Madonna? You’d better put the effort in, Madonna works out for three hours a day, every day, even Christmas day.
If you’ve never seen her live, where have you been? She may have many strings to her bow but Madonna really comes alive on the stage. She is the highest grossing solo touring artist ever and third behind U2 and Rolling Stones. This is in part to high ticket prices but where else can you see the Queen of Pop crucified on a disco cross, pole dancing atop a semi naked nun, on a high wire, on a tightrope or double dutch skipping? She may charge top dollar, but she most definitely delivers.
Did you know: Madonna has earned $1.31 billion from touring alone.
So happy birthday your Madgesty, let’s drink to your 83 singles, 13 albums, 26 films, 10 tours and 7 children’s books. They said you wouldn’t last and you proved them wrong.
Long live the Queen.
What are your Madonna memories? Let me know in the comments below.