I may certainly be wrong on this but I have an inkling that future humans may look back at the Superbowl half-time show of 2012 and mark it as the great turning point—the moment when the Titanic of inflamed and de-famed Western civilization collectively, tragic-comically, hit an unremarked iceberg of rising introversion and authenticity.
In case you missed the passion play, Madonna, appropriator of kitsch, arrives upon the scene pulled by Gleeful “warriors,” football’s gay subtext writ large with jazz hands. Before we know it the motif morphs to gospel choir and by the time the half-baked soufflé falls we are informed as to what this has all been about by way of a clear message: World Peace.
I felt like crying as I watched this Vegas-gone-Greek fiasco, imagining Don Cornelius already on the last soul-train out of Dodge, but I couldn’t at first put my finger on why. I wish no ill to Madonna, other than as signifier of fame-at-all costs narcissism which has a nasty trickle down effect upon things like traffic and taking turns, but then I started to have this strange image in my mind: Madonna, artistically “dead,” and draped over Eli Manning’s victory lap in an inverse profane reversal of the Pieta.
Madonna solves the Madonna-Whore complex the way black culture appropriates the “N-word.” She has played the national harlot with a heart of gold like an aging stripper with ever-dimmer ideas rather than softer lights and wafting veils. At her tragic demise she danced like a virgin in process of being sacrificed in the Rites of Spring, like a wildebeest being brought down by lions, staggering on heels that even Elton John could no better pull off while hawking Pepsi.
Our fame-whore mother ready for her close-up.
But perhaps the fake must die in order for the authentic to be born; perhaps the loud must die, however loudly, in order for the quiet to rise; perhaps the dwindling dinosaur cannot fathom the mammalian meaning of the mouse.
I blog here neither to bury Madonna nor to praise her, but to whisper to the few who happen across these words: OMG, the beast has fallen and groans its last. It’s no wicked witch who’s dead but the whole shit show that creaks and groans as it falls like Poe’s House of Usher.
Don’t take it from me, but ask your own heart and mind: have we had enough of megaphone bombast? Can the screen go dark for a minute and we yet survive? Does a light rise up in the eyes of those we actually know and love? Can we witness this and know that it is good and real and nourishing without it being a social media event, a campaign, an IPO or a Broadway show? Can we hang out with each other without measuring our success?
Alas Madonna, we knew her well. Ask not for whom this mother passes toward the death of fading fame, for this immaculately inflated virgin dies for us and for our sins of ceaseless expansion and inane American Idolatry.
This half-time, evening in America, debacle of excess may prove a perfect tribute to Madonna’s persona-death—a wake for those who are not yet awake, a wheelbarrow race to nowhere bringing dead meat to unwell zombies.
I am perfectly clear that what I say here has no big impact, and we are just talking amongst friends, much as Kafka read his work to his friends from his sick-bed and they all laughed and laughed—for comedy was the point, not black turtlenecks and unfiltered cigarettes.
There is a party happening, a quiet all-invited if you know where to go sort of affair. But then you already know where it is, and you already know what time it is, and so we raise a glass to each other and to the introverted and the compassionate and the time we have together and it is good.