Dear Internet: All The Snickering About Madonna's Age Is Getting Real Old

Categories: Madonna

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This week Madonna's 12th studio album and dive into the deep end of the EDM pool, MDNA, came out. I didn't like it very much. But what I like even less is the sexism-tinged age-baiting that the record seems to be inspiring in so many critics. Forbes was likely the worst offender of the bunch, going so far as to call MDNA "Madonna's Mighty Menopausal Comeback." (Uh, was that claim fact-checked, "straight woman half her age" who wrote that piece?)

Unsurprisingly, the pick-a-little-talk-a-lot gossipsphere is the worst aggregate offender in this case, with VH1-clip-show-cutting-room-floor "jokes" about her looks and extreme-to-the-max close-ups of her imperfections. (I count the always-ready-for-linkbaiting Daily Mail, which mocked Madonna's fishnets-and-shorts outfit at Ultra by reminiscing about the days when "she had a dancer's buttocks and thighs but, most importantly, she was only 32 years old," among the offenders here.) But the regular press has been just as disappointing. Take the National Post, which engaged in a little bit of meta-enabling by putting down gossip bloggers and agreeing with them in the same breath:

It's easy to take carping about an old woman acting young as snide dismissal, but the problems with Madonna's attempt here go well beyond some Perez Hilton snickering. For starters, it is just an affront to the few comforts we can take in getting older for someone who so thoroughly captured the thrill of youth's transgressions to just straight-up deny that it's happening. Madonna could have brought some kind of no-nonsense perspective to her maturation. In fact, that kind of seems what she's trying to do on a song like 'I Don't Give A,' when she sings "I'm gonna be okay / I don't care what the people say / I'm gonna be alright / Gonna live fast, gonna gonna live right." Screw you, hater: I am owning who I am.

Except, of course, she's not.

Nice trick, there. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, meanwhile, sneers:

On the single 'Give Me All Your Luvin''—which is nowhere near as good as the ZZ Top song and which you surely heard during her gaudy Super Bowl halftime spectacle—she sings, "Don't play the stupid game, 'cause I'm a different kind of girl/ Every record sounds the same, you gotta step into my world."

And that would be ... what exactly? A 53-year-old sophisticate sounding like Avril Lavigne doing Toni Basil?

And the Tampa Bay Times chimes in:

Madonna is no longer the belle of the pop ball, but the 53-year-old giddily believes she can still hang with all the Cinderellas. That's where the trouble starts on the new MDNA, an awkward midlife-crisis album. Madge makes like the Fairy Godmother of clubland, and guess who's up for a bibbidi-bobbidi-booty call.

Cute Cinderella imagery there, but I hope that 53-year-old men who believe that they can "hang with the Cinderellas" get the same scrutiny from this writer. Or is that okay because that relationship reinforces the traditional power norms?



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18 comments
loo
loo

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loo
loo

 Without fine geometric logical deduction, then the charming lines can not structure the flow of charmPeople really addicted to foreign objects, not just the appearance, there is a put on a desire to not want to take offThe shoes are an integral part of the people dress, "finishing touch" on the wearing apparel plays a decorative effect. Shoes, in the course of its development, due to different geographical, climatic, ethnic, coupled with political and economic influence, the formation of a variety of different styles and forms. English these look sideways "L"-type shoes, by the ancient people's wisdom to the development of innovative, free to produce thousands of varieties, and this development is the development of the shoeArt  . Work fine, colorful, and great variety of pairs of shoes, all filled with the charm of beauty, worthy of us to appreciate it, Favorite it, research it.The collision of East and West of child rearing: For example, the French baby has a separate bedroom, at night they want to hum on the Well, cry, parents just keep sleeping, anyway a pocket "diapers" Even if the account. Their point of view, let the children learn to adapt themselves to life. At home, the yard baby wear long-sleeved clothing and socks, wear a hat to cover the forehead.Half of a large children strip off their socks, revealing bare arms to the garden the sun, the theory is that the skin a breath of fresh air, and some people are determined not to agree on the grounds that the neonatal blood circulation is not perfect, and easy to catch cold extremities. Children eat egg yolks, add iron absorption is normal practice, but the Frenchman would appear to increase a child's cholesterol. The Frenchman even have to say about the rice can also cause constipation. Domestic infants one month after the mostly urine, French children two years old, also pocket "diapers", clearly trouble (in the Chinese point of view). So, Western cultivation of this culture the spirit of independence began early in the child juvenile

Payton_vege
Payton_vege

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the_bitter_truth
the_bitter_truth

Just a guess but I think maybe the author of this piece is pushing forty, or fifty, and shares the fear that her job reviewing music will someday soon be given over to a dewy-faced intern. Just a guess...

the_bitter_truth
the_bitter_truth

Pop, Rap. Hip Hop, and rock music, is and always will be made by youth for youth. It's pathetic as musicians age they try to change this rule but bottom dollar when they were 18-33 they felt the same. Move on, old timers, and sit the hell down!

Laura
Laura

While I agree that ageism is rampant in our youth-obsessed society, I have to say that Madonna brings on those type of insults on herself by basically playing into the stereotype of the aging sex symbol who cannot accept that she's no longer 25. She's wearing outfits that would barely look decent on someone half her age, she's collaborating with artists half her age not because she admires their craft but because she's desperate to make herself relevant to the younger generation, she's taken snide shots at Lady Gaga, showing that she's threatened by an artist half her age who's been deemed the new Madonna, and she's making music for people half her age and younger. And in her shameless efforts to pander to the younger crowd so badly, she's neglecting her older fans who would appreciate a mature, self-assured woman who's got no problem with being older and isn't being a mutton dressed like a lamb. In the end, none of this is going to garner Madonna any respect because she's not being herself. She's not embracing change and moving forward with her image and sound, which is highly ironic when you consider the fact that she's been lauded for continually reinventing herself and setting trends rather than following them. Now she's the one hopping on existing trends in a pitiful bid for relevance. It's really sad, especially when with her level of influence, she could've been the one showing younger female pop stars how to gracefully age while still kicking ass in pop music. Now I fear that 20 years from now, we're gonna have our current roster of female artists trying their damnedest to hold on to their youth by continuing their same shtick that they're doing now because they won't know how to do any differently. And it's gonna look ten times worse, because even as young women they already look pathetic with their gimmicks.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell

Just type in "Wrecking Ball 62 year" into Google and see how many reviews mention Springsteen's age.

This is not a gender specific issue by any stretch of the imagination.  The difference is that Springsteen seems to be embracing his age while Madonna seems to be rejecting hers.

There are any number of significant female artists (Joni Mitchell and Emmy Lou Harris are two that come immediately to mind) that have aged without their "aging" being mentioned as a critique.  Those two like Springsteen accepted their maturity (and made it a significant part of their later art) as opposed to Madonna.

If you are not going to act your age, you are going to be called out for it--gender be damned.

Derrick Kardos
Derrick Kardos

I'm surprised & dismayed by the avalanche of ageism which has accompanied the release of MDNA.

Bruce Springsteen also has a new record out this year.Why does HE get reverence and respect -- "Bruce Springsteen: Still Going Strong at Age 60""Age will not stop Bruce Springsteen""Bruce Springsteen: 'Age Is Liberating'""Bruce Springsteen Not Afraid Of Age"-- and SHE gets granny jokes?

"I find whenever someone writes anything about me, my age is right after my name. It's almost like they're saying, 'Here she is, but remember she's this age, so she's not that relevant anymore. Let's punish her by reminding her and everyone else.'When you put someone's age down, you're limiting them.To have fun, that's the main issue. To continue to be a provocateur, to do what we perceive as the realm of young people;to provoke, to be rebellious, to start a revolution."-Madonna to Harpers Bazaar, 2012

Here is 34yo Madonna defending her 53yo old self:http://youtu.be/NNqjZ9C2ZVQ

Perhaps young people are upset that such an old woman is more interesting than they are.

http://www.facebook.com/photo....

Negafulobooks
Negafulobooks

Yes, the rules for old men are different. And yes, women have to prove the peanut gallery of papparazzi wrong by pretending not to give a shit. And yet...where is the reward if we do? I don't recall either Dorothea Tanning or Alexandra David- Neal being properly lionized by the press while remaining artistically active and significant through their 90s! Tina Turner and Patti Labelle have gotten nice things said (in passing) about their smooth faces sturdy voices and sturdy legs during golden year performances but it always sounds either grudging or astonished...like freak show commentary. Women are still biologically doomed to be measured along an index of desire and fertility rather than an index of intelligence and authority.

loudersoft
loudersoft

Seems to me that writers are reacting solidly to the premise here. It's not people who disagree with the way she's conducting herself that are being ageist, it's Madonna herself who is fetishizing youth directly and vehemently being ageist by showing (as she is want to do) that she can still hang with the youngsters and be cool.  

Are Mick Jagger's series of revolting cock-joltings and tongue-and-lip gaffes really any less disconcerting in a grandfather, and don't you think that people actually are insinuating he's old when they talk about the music being so bad?  What about Lou Reed's abortive team-up with Metallica?  I seem to recall a review or two that painted him as long-in-the-tooth because, in reality, that's what they are.  We're all getting older, we don't stay 25 forever.  Those situations are not any different, and I don't think that the press is unintentionally failing to compartmentalize these scenarios either because Madonna is a woman or because she is over 35; if they are, then why is it shame on the press for feeding the same beast Madonna herself is feeding?

I applaud Madonna's willingness to fight it all, whether gracefully or shamelessly. In the face of her continued relevance and ability to sell records I see no grace in this incarnation of her id. Maybe she should try getting together with Lou Reed and Mick Jagger & write the great American album.  Oh right, it doesn't make any money.

Johanna Bebe
Johanna Bebe

I've purchased MDNA and enjoy listening to it. People will snicker all day about Queen Madonna, let me throw the facts out there for you all who don't know what she's achieved and still is achieving.1. Madonna is one of a dozen musical legends who is still alive and producing steady music.2. Madonna is (in my opinion) of a true entertainer, she knows what to say or do to provoke emotions (might it be negative or mocking) from critics... 3. The simple fact that everyone in the world have heard/ or know of her existence should be enough to piss everyone who isn't a fan to hate/ bash her over inevitable life processes. We will all age, (some better then other). If having received a Golden Globe for an original song for her film "W.E." in 2012 doesn't portray maturity, I am not sure what will.4. As for her current music, I prefer her older materials however her newer materials still possess her overall signature persona! "I'm Madonna, you'll listen to my music regardless" If you are claiming that she is immature because of her latest music singles you must have been living under a rock for the past 5-7 years. Have you not seen how shitty the music industry is? If it isn't fast paced it won't sell! MDNA consists of classic ballads such as "Masterpiece, Free Falling, I fucked up, Love spent" these singles really remind me of some of her older classic work. 5. You can judge, and hate all you'd like, the sad reality is that Madonna is and will continue to make more money than ALL of you low life journalists/editiors. How do you like them apples?

Dom
Dom

"When Mick Jagger was flailing around like an idiot with Jennifer Lopez and will.i.am last year, did people call him old?"

Dead at you thinking that "lol Mick Jagger is an embarassing old man who still prances about the stages like he's 25" hasn't been the central crux of everything written about the Rolling Stones since back when Madonna was still knocking boots with Vanilla Ice.

Matt Boggie
Matt Boggie

First, excellent "Music Man" reference thrown in there. 

Second, I was in third grade when I first heard "Borderline." We've ALL gotten a lot older, not just Madge. It would behoove the writers you call out to remember that.

Stiney20
Stiney20

How does one act their age if they do not feel their age? I think that's the point that's always missed. She does not dress or act like a typical 53 year old woman because she is not a typical 53 year old woman. For her to suddenly act like what people stereotypically expect a 53 year old to act like would be for her to not act like herself. Madonna doesn't do that. Give her credit, she's never compromised what she wants and she never will.

I find it inspiring to see a woman acting how she wants instead of how the world expects her to act. That has always been one of her most inspiring traits. That's the message. You're as old as you feel. Grow old gracefully? Why? Live young and cutting edge as long as you want, it's your life. Live it.

Brad Nelson
Brad Nelson

I mean you're still like pivoting on an "old vs. young" dichotomy here.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell

 Do you remember "Ray of Light" when she was pushing 40?  How the music embraced a new maturity in her work while also being very banging?

Don't fool yourself that she's acting how she wants to act.  She's spent the last decade jumping from trend to trend in an effort to be contemporary.  She set the template for herself over a decade ago, and scared herself off.

loudersoft
loudersoft

Let me start by making it clear: I love Madonna.  I think she's incredible and I have a lot of respect for her. To answer your point, I am pivoting on that dichotomy along with others because, as I said, Madonna appears to be issuing that challenge herself.  She didn't suddenly stop being 53 because she's dressing & acting like she's 25.

I'm trying to figure out if we're all supposed to suddenly ignore the fact that performers do age and when their performances don't strike a general chord of being "age-appropriate" that we're to dismiss the thought of something being "age-appropriate". If we say, "Go for it, girl!" then we're being sexist.  If we say, "She's too old to be doing that," then we're being ageist.  At the end of the day, Madonna always wins because she's selling tickets and records, so what the hell do those of us teetering on the dichotomy know?

Madonna knows controversy sells, and if this is the controversy so be it. Here we are talking about her, and that's how she likes it.

veckhoff
veckhoff

I can remember one day, sitting in a public place, watching all the ridiculous outfits parading by on women of all ages. The young ones were dressed particularly tartishly, but a few older women were, too. I felt critically toward them and then asked myself, do I want a world in which everyone dresses "appropriately"? Everyone dresses the same? I considered what a subway car would look like without any outlandishly dressed people in it. I considered a choir where every voice sounded the same. I ceased feeling critical of women's clothing choices that day. I became grateful for the range of self-expression and creativity, the extremes, the highs and the lows, the beauty, the ugliness, the glorious aged, the glorious middle-aged, the glorious young, who feel they have a lock on it all. It should look like them, yes? What a wish. The humanness of it all—that's what I love. But I had to pass forty to find that.

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