*this article originally appears on Huffington Post:
Madonna, Ageism and Sexism
by Kyle McMahon
Too many people forget that Madonna, the most successful solo artist in history, has paved the way for so many artists, both male and female. With her outspoken opinions, her sometimes shocking but always thought provoking performances and her pure determination, she’s broken down barriers on women, pop stars, homosexuals, race, religion, business and everything in between. There would be no Britney Spears, no Beyoncé, no Rihanna, had Madonna not paved the way with her conical bra or her pink leotard.
Madonna is once again breaking down barriers. This time, it’s that taboo topic of age. So many people, particularly in the media, apparently feel that women of a certain age should go quietly into the night and rest on their laurels. Actresses have been complaining for years that once they hit 50 there are no substantial roles. Meanwhile, Liam Neeson continues to be in every action movie involving a daughter. Madonna won’t rest on her laurels though, as that has never been her M.O. This is a woman who sold out multiple nights at Yankee Stadium on her last tour (which beat her own record for top selling solo tour of all time.) when there had never been a woman headlining there before at all. This is the same artist who performed at the Super Bowl and got more viewers than the game itself. This is the same woman whose recent Grammy performance was the most watched (and tweeted about) performance of the night. All of those accomplishments happened after her 50th birthday.
Madonna’s age is not her problem. It’s your own problem. It’s the mindset some have that women of a certain age should act a certain way, look a certain way and talk a certain way. In fact, if you have a problem with Madonna and what she does, it’s only your problem that you’ve created in your mind. There’s no rule book that says that on a certain magical date you must suddenly stop wearing clothes that you like and must suddenly wear clothes that you don’t like because society says so. The truth is, society doesn’t get to say so. This isn’t a woman who’s chasing trends, this is a woman who starts them. If you think she’s going to listen to the countless talking heads droning on about how a woman should live her life, then you’ve clearly been living under a rock the last 30+ years. Those some people will praise U2 or Rolling Stones, while chastising Madonna. And Madonna’s the only one of them still cranking out hits. This is an artist who’s latest single, Ghosttown, became her 45th #1 hit. After all, “Bitch she’s Madonna.”
As so often happens with Madonna, controversy has overshadowed the music… and that’s quite a shame. Rebel Heart, her latest album, is one of the best albums of her career. Reflective and introspective it sounds like nothing else on the radio or in the clubs. She has written a tour de force of an album while being shocking for what it really is: her most honest, personal album yet. Diplo, a Philadelphia native, (call me, bro!) marries his avant garde club sound with Madonna’s mainstream pop sensibilities and the result is perfection. Check out the Pop Culture Whore piece for a track by track review of Rebel Heart or just do yourself a favor and buy Rebel Heart.
If you haven’t noticed throughout her white hot career spanning more then 30 years, Madonna doesn’t give a shit what you think. She’s going to be her, unapologetically. And when you can go out to the club with your friends at 56 years old and look absolutely amazing in what you’re wearing as you dance the night away, you can thank Madonna. As it is, that club probably be playing her latest hit.
Kyle McMahon, the recording artist known as K.Mac, is a millennial who has appeared on a series of Emmy winning Oprah's Lifeclass specials, writes about self improvement for millennials and gives speeches on fatherless sons. Check out the Kyle McMahon website for more information. You can follow him on Twitter, Google+ or Facebook.