Last week in Berlin, Madonna was caught on camera breaking into a maybe-not-on-purpose crying fit while performing her ballad version of “Like A Virgin.” This prompted many to speculate whether the tears were a planned publicity stunt, a genuine loss of control, or what. Here is the footage:
The point is not that Madonna did something weird; the point is that it did not “hit” in such a way that anyone knew what to make of it. And it’s not the first time in the recent past she’s made us go “WTF,” either. I’m calling it: at 53 years old, the Queen of Pop is finally having a midlife crisis.
I’m not saying Madonna’s never been in the tabloids, but she’s never seemed this out of control of her own image. She may have done some wacky things for attention in the past, but I always got the sense that the image she put out was always exactly the image she wanted us to see. There was no misinterpreting her “Sex” book or Truth Or Dare, which were, after all, well-curated looks into very specific parts of Madonna’s life. I’d even go as far as to say she controlled the narrative in a way that few modern celebrities have. (This is just one of many things that I see Lady Gaga emulating in her own career.)
But lately, it seems like nary a week goes by without some negative story coming out about her. First, there was the Superbowl incident: Madge wanted some of M.I.A.’s “edgy” authenticity, but got all pearl-clutchy when she actually gave her some. Then there’s the continuous string of ridiculously young boyfriends. I mean, 25-year-old male models are hot and all, but I don’t want to date a 25-year-old, and I’m 27. And of course, there were/are the desperate efforts to seem relevant by dropping heavy-handed double entendres about MDMA (a.k.a. “molly”) all over the place, despite the fact that “molly” hasn’t been hip since the ’90s and anyone over the age of 19 should feel at least somewhat embarrassed about taking it. And then, as if that weren’t bad enough, when Deadmau5 called her out on it, she tried to play dumb about the whole thing.
Let’s see, what else? Ah yes, there was that intentional nip slip in Turkey, and her troubling new tendency to behave like she’s in the midst of a terrible comedown from an irresponsibly long ecstasy bender. (Nothing makes you cry for no reason at all like coming down off way too much E.)
Why this sudden rash of bad PR when she’s been doing so well for the last three decades? Only Madge knows that for sure, but I feel like this sudden midlife crisis might have been brought on by the realization that her daughter Lourdes is now old enough to wear a cone bra herself. Then again, it’s possible that Madonna’s always been this bonkers and she just doesn’t care about hiding it anymore. In any case, I recommend a fresh PR team, a heavy dose of Kabbalah, and no club drugs for the rest of the summer. May her reputation and neural pathways rebuild themselves swiftly.