No other person has graced the cover of Bazaar more frequently than Madonna over the past thirty years. And so it goes that she’s the most natural fit to to cover their 150th anniversary issue. Perhaps with a tinge of irony at those constantly picking at her for her age, the article is entitled “Madonna’s Spring Awakening.” And yes, at this juncture in her career, it’s very apparent that her “no fucks given” attitude—which has always served her so well in the past—is all the more endearing in the present. Her deliberate selection of Roxane Gay (Madonna recently called her own self a “bad feminist” during her Billboard Woman of the Year acceptance speech) to conduct the interview remains telling of just how au courant M remains with intuiting which zeitgeist of the moment to gravitate toward.
Roxane Gay, while adept at description and evoking a certain feeling throughout the interview, is, of course, merely backdrop to the universe of Madonna and her opinions—of which there are many. Most pressing of late is the Trump thing (that “thing” being that he’s going to be the extremely inept leader of our nation for the next four years or until he blows it up). As one of the most outspoken celebrities about Trump’s impending reign, Madonna had no qualms about decrying: “…it’s like when you break up with somebody who has really broken your heart. You wake up and for a second you’re just you, and then you go, ‘Oh, the person I love more than anything has just broken my heart and I have nothing. I’m lost.’ That’s how I feel every morning. I wake up and I go, ‘Wait a second. Donald Trump is the president. It’s not a bad dream. It really happened.’ It’s like being dumped by a lover and also being stuck in a nightmare.”
“The constant maligning of the Queen of Pop speaks to something sinister: A cultural need to condemn a non-conventional perspective”
But this doesn’t mean Madonna—or any of the rest of us—is going down without an artistic fight. Touching on how her work has always been of a political nature (reaching its height in 2003 with American Life), Madonna reveals that art has always been her means of survival in the face of every betrayal. Moreover, because Madonna is determined to keep trying until she succeeds in any medium she sets her mind to, it is of no surprise that she will continue on her film journey by writing and directing Loved, an adaptation of The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells.
Rather than focus on these elements of the interview, unfortunately, the “sound bite” many outlets are choosing to glom onto is: “I’ve always felt oppressed.” It is her detractors’ intention to make Madonna sound absurd by not letting her finish her own sentence: “I know a lot of people would go, ‘Oh that’s ridiculous for you to say that. You’re a successful white, wealthy pop star,’ but I’ve had the shit kicked out of me for my entire career, and a large part of that is because I’m female and also because I refuse to live a conventional life.” The constant maligning of the Queen of Pop speaks to something sinister: A cultural need to condemn a non-conventional perspective. But Madonna won’t be suppressed, and, believe it or not, we need her now more than ever. Like Bazaar itself, she’s the last vestige of a time when hard work and innovation was valued.
“Take the mediocre out of here,” Madonna says of the wine she’s tasting for her then pre-planning stages of Tears of A Clown for Art Basel. But it’s clear she’s talking about more than that. Madonna is urging us to expect more of ourselves, our culture, and the political and entertainment landscape of today.