On this day thirty years ago, Madonna reached a significant milestone that essentially declared to the whole world that she has indeed ‘arrived’ and has ushered in The Age of Madonna.
Madonna Rocks the Land
May 27, 1985
Sassy, brassy and beguiling, she laughs her way to fame
Now then, parents, the important thing is to stay calm. You’ve seen Ma-donna wiggling on MTV — right, she’s the pop-tart singer with the trashy outfits and the hi-there belly button. What is worse, your children have seen her. You tell your daughters to put on jeans and sweatshirts, like decent girls, and they look at you as if you’ve just blown in from the Planet of the Creeps. Twelve-year-old girls, headphones blocking out the voices of reason, are running around wearing T shirts labeled VIRGIN, which would not have been necessary 30 years ago. The shirts offer no guarantees, moreover; they merely advertise Madonna’s first, or virgin, rock tour, now thundering across the continent, and her bouncy, love- it-when-you-do-it song Like a Virgin.
The bright side of this phenomenon is that these Wanna Be’s (as in “We wanna be like Madonna!”) could be out somewhere stealing hubcaps. Instead, all of them, hundreds of thousands of young blossoms whose actual ages run from a low of about eight to a high of perhaps 25, are saving up their baby- sitting money to buy cross-shaped earrings and fluorescent rubber bracelets like Madonna’s, white lace tights that they will cut off at the ankles and black tube skirts that, out of view of their parents, they will roll down several turns at the waist to expose their middles and the waistbands of the pantyhose.
Does anyone remember underwear? The boldest of the Wanna Be’s prowl thrift shops looking for ancient, bulletproof black lace bras and corsets, which they wear slapdash under any sort of gauzy shirt or found-in-the-attic jacket. They tie great floppy rags in their frazzled hair, which when really authentic is blond with dark roots.
To Madonna Louise Ciccone, who is 26, and her Wanna Be’s, such get-ups somehow suggest the ’50s, now conceived on the evidence of old Marilyn Monroe movies to have been a quaint and fascinating though slightly tacky time, rich in flirtatious, pre-feminist sexuality. Although to her it’s a joke, Madonna’s “Boy Toy” belt buckle offends almost everyone except the Wanna Be’s. Those who snoozed through the ’50s the first time around are mystified. Some feminists clearly feel that Madonna’s self-parody as an eye-batting gold digger, notably in her song Material Girl, is a joke too damaging to laugh at. Somebody has said that her high, thin voice, which is merely adequate for her energetic but not very demanding dance-pop songs, sounds like “Minnie Mouse on helium.” Other detractors suggest that she is almost entirely helium, a gas-filled, lighter-than-air creation of MTV and other sinister media packagers (these doubters have not felt the power of Madonna’s personality, which is as forceful and well organized as D-day). That mossy old (41) Rolling Stone Mick Jagger says that her records are characterized by “a central dumbness.”
Kids born since the breakup of the Beatles, however, don’t want to hear any of this. Can’t hear anything else, at this tick of the clock except brassy, trashy, junk-jingling, stage-stomping Madonna, who has been world famous for almost two months. Just now she is the hottest draw in show biz. Michael Jackson? History. Prince? The Peloponnesian Wars. Cyndi Lauper? Last week’s flash, and besides, if you wanna be like Cyndi, you have to dye your hair orange and fuchsia, and your parents freak. No, Madonna is the full moon you see at this bend in the river, and never mind what is around the corner.