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Madonna, Bawdy & Soul

Madonna, Bawdy & Soul

Appendix: Selected Works of Madonna by Frances Wasserlein
Copyright Date: 1997
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    Madonna, Bawdy & Soul
    Book Description:

    How do bad girls get away with it? How did Madonna, subject of public outcry for her controversial performances and her book Sex, become a superstar of pop culture and a role model for teenage girls? Why now, as star of Evita and a new mother, is she becoming a mainstream hero?

    Karlene Faith says that Madonna signifies the times we live in. We are, in a sense, all responsible for who Madonna is. As fans, moral critics, media journalists, or university scholars, we mediate what she means to our society. And Madonna, as a shrewd career woman, has known how to exploit our attentions with her multiple talents. Her representation of sexual practices and values has not taken place in a political or social vacuum. She has counted on our readiness to witness the smashing of cultural taboos. Feminist reactions to Madonna have been divided. In her early career Madonna was a teenage role model, applauded as a liberated sex crusader. Later, she raised eyebrows by portraying cynical sex with multiple partners across identity boundaries and by capitalizing on sadomasochistic imagery.

    Madonna, Bawdy & Soulis a celebration and critical analysis of Madonna from a feminist perspective. It will, like Madonna, provoke controversy among fans, critics, and scholars. The book includes a comprehensive listing of songs, videos, tours, films, stage roles, and Internet sites.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7688-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Karlene Faith
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. 1 Setting the Stage
    (pp. 3-40)

    Through reflections on the first decade-plus of Madonna as a contemporary, enduring pop sensation, I engage in mostly plain talk about some of the ways that popular entertainments can both serve and exploit us. As an elder, paying critical attention to popular trends (in Canada and the United States) gives me a more complicated and respectful perspective on youth, who are the motor force and trend-setters of contemporary Western pop music. I hope my views of Madonna as a complex cultural force will be of academic interest to undergraduates in interdisciplinary studies. But it is more to Madonna’s thinking fans...

  6. 2 Who Is This Madonna?
    (pp. 41-49)

    On the one side of the ancient Madonna/Whore dichotomy, the Madonna of the male imagination is the purest of women, embodying the patriarchal ideal of the passive, eternal Virgin. The glamorized Whore, on the other hand, who signifies resistance, is presented through the fictions of bad-girl images as asserting herself as an independent agent with entertainment value. As exemplified in the 1930s by Mae West, who was any man’s equal, she takes charge of her body, capitalizing on its capacity to spring male fantasy. This whore of the imagination is a woman in business for herself; she would rather exploit...

  7. 3 Grist for Feminist Thinking
    (pp. 50-74)

    Feminists, given the diversity of our social, political, and personal identities and agendas, have had mixed views in appraising Madonna’s value or harm to women and young people in her early career, and her defiance of or collusion with patriarchal cultural traditions. On the one hand, Madonna’s celebration of myriad sexual identities breaks down taboos and clears more cultural space for sex as a human commonplace with significant variations. On the other hand, a young person learning about sex from Madonna in the late 1980s and early 1990s could easily have formed the impression that everyday sex includes multiple partners,...

  8. 4 The Scholar and the Showgirl
    (pp. 75-87)

    With this chapter, in particular, I aim to bridge some of the artificial boundaries between academic and popular cultures, and the chapter is intended for the reader not already fluent in the work of Michel Foucault. Madonna the showgirl has been the subject of study in many universities. Although she doesn’t present herself as an intellectual, I liken substantive aspects of her work to that of a path-breaking scholar. I’m not interested in engaging here in old Foucauldian debates, but rather in showing how very similar threads of inquiry circulate in very different cultural settings. Foucault’s vocabulary circulated far beyond...

  9. 5 Identity: Sex, Religion, and Difference
    (pp. 88-102)

    Issues of identity politics, as related to racialism, ethnicity, class, sex, and age, are potent in Madonna’s representations. She represents identities which she can know only vicariously. Fundamental to early ‘identity politics’ was the assumption that ‘there was a direct correlation between one’s social location and one’s political position ... [But] identity itself is complex, contradictory, and shifting and does not unproblematically reveal itself in a specific polities’ (Giroux, 1993: 173).

    Madonna’s peculiarity is that she has cruised so freely through so many cultural terrains. She has been a ‘cult’ figure within self-propelling subcultures just as she became a major...

  10. 6 Liberated Sex Crusader?
    (pp. 103-121)

    The sex-secretive conservatism of the 1950s was mitigated in part by the surging popularity, among men, of Hugh Hefner’s soft-pornPlayboymagazine, which both directly and indirectly anticipated the ‘free love’ rhetoric of the 1960s. In practice, ‘love’ was translated to mean ‘sex,’ and although sex may have become more freely available to men, the women who gave it to them often paid heavily in consequences.

    Mainstream legitimacy of sex talk came with the 1970 publication of Masters and Johnson’s study of human sexuality. As Virginia Johnson stated in a 1992 interview, the purpose of their research and sex-therapy work...

  11. 7 A Careening Career
    (pp. 122-138)

    Her phenomenal mass appeal and exceptional staying power notwithstanding, mainstream arts and music critics were only occasionally enthusiastic about Madonna’s talents in her first decade as a superstar. As a musicalartisteshe was often thumbed-down shortsightedly by the men who are the Critics, even though admired for her daring style and startling business acumen. For example, reiterating a common attitude,Montreal Gazettemusic reviewer Mark LePage said ofErotica,her 1992 album, ‘After all the ranting and ogling is done, it comes down to bad girl/good girl. That is, when Madonna’s bad, she’s good; and when she’s good, she’s...

  12. 8 Role Model?
    (pp. 139-148)

    As a young woman, early in her career, Madonna spoke in awe of Hollywood legends Carole Lombard, Claudette Colbert, Judy Holliday, Marilyn Monroe. She loved them as glamorous, smart, screwball comedians who, in her words, ‘give you a taste of real life, some poignance, and leave you feeling up at the end – none of that adolescent-fantasy bullshit’ (Schruers, 1985: 30). Six years later, 1991, herself still a major supplier of adolescent fantasy, she was identifying with the 1930s actress Louise Brooks, because ‘she was hyperactive, she didn’t mince words, and she was a rebel.’ Brooks did the majority of her...

  13. 9 Only Madonna Knows
    (pp. 149-166)

    The male-dominant press has consistently denigrated Madonna less for her ‘sexual ferocity,’ as Cole put it (1993), than for qualities more readily identified in terms of class or ethnicity. Raised in a large Italian family in ethnically mixed suburbs, she was attracted to the music of Motown from neighbouring Detroit, a white girl attracted to the black community and street life, identifying with socially designated Others. Disciplined and soon earning her own way, she revelled in defiance, and working-class white girls and black gay boys were among the first to say ‘Yes!’ Regarding class identity, in the theatre advertising flyer...

  14. Postscript
    (pp. 167-170)

    It was everywhere on the news: Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon was born by cesarean at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles at 4:01 p.m., 21 October 1996, 6 pounds, 9 ounces, thick black hair. It’s reported by every media outlet that the new mother, Madonna, and father, Carlos Leon, are ecstatic. (She was attended, ironically, by respected pediatrician Paul Fleiss, whose infamous daughter Heidi successfully led a corps of call-girls through Hollywood society.) Her partner, Carlos, and her sister Melanie were with her through the twelve preceding hours as she laboured towards ‘the greatest miracle of my life.’ When...

  15. APPENDIX: Selected Works of Madonna
    (pp. 171-188)
    Frances Wasserlein
  16. References
    (pp. 189-200)
  17. Index
    (pp. 201-217)