Wow...I like it. It's absolutely credible as a Top 40/urban song—unlike some of her awkward attempts on Bedtime Stories. Because it's so instantly catchy, and because I know I'll have another 11 or 12 (if you buy the Japanese!) songs that should have more of it, I can forgive that it's not more Madonna-driven.
I think, based on this, she just might pull off the urban experiment and have a great, big hit out of it.
As a gay activist, my motto is usually: I'm gonna make you sweat till you bleed. I don't have patience for arguments about how closeted gay actors have to be that way because otherwise they couldn't make even more millions. I do understand, though with some skepticism, the argument of some that they're simply not provocative and prefer to be apolitical. Such has been the case for not harassing Ellen Degeneres—isn't it enough that she's openly lesbian and running the second biggest talk show on TV? She came out when it wasn't fashionable, and while she is not a constant advocate, she doesn't seem to be biting her tongue like a closeted person. (Harvey Fierstein disagrees—he really trashed her recently in Attitude, saying she only came out to save her show and has done zilch for the community since.)
But whether or not you allow Ellen leeway in this arena in general, this is pretty fucking spectacular:
Hmmm...I won't deny the media bias against Hillary!
I had a sort of debate with my Hillary Clinton-loving friends—all gay, all in their mid-thirties to mid-forties—to try to explain to them why they should not blame Barack Obama for possibly beating her (we'll know Tuesday night), and why they should not feel afraid of him as the probable Democratic nominee. For me, it's always been quite easy. I've always liked him even as I loved her. I never thought he'd be a lousy choice. Probably my lowest moment with him was when he was adding Donnie McClurkin to his gospel tour of the South—partly because I recoiled from an anti-gay gay being given such legitimacy, but more practically because I thought it showed how green he was not to have known better.
But even as I was coming around to him, I was dealing with a lot of ridiculous negativity toward Hillary from fellow Democrats. Reading the comments on DailyKos were so alienating—they spoke of her as if she, this liberal firebrand in most people's minds, were no better than George W. Bush. She's not perfect, to be sure, but that was a Bush too far. Also, it's been painfully obvious how much the press loathes her—every move she makes is unfavorably spun.
Since then, as Hillary has faltered, Barack has impressed me. But as I've come to know and like him, I've noticed the last bit of fight surfacing from Hillary's supporters. In my mind, at least when it comes to her gay fans, I feel this is an emotional response—we've been attached to her and her husband as the most gay-friendly White House inhabitants ever. She was the first First Lady to walk in a gay pride parade. Sure, Clinton gave us Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but it was an improvement on Don't Even Think About It 15 years ago. And ever since Hillary's amazing popular-opinion comeback, during which she swept into office as the junior senator from New York, we've been counting down to the impossible dream: President Clinton v. 2.0.
Guess what? We're getting a chance at President Clinton v. 2.0. His name is Barack Obama.
Madonna is spoiling for a fight in a shot by Steven Klein on her first mag cover in support of Hard Candy, from what is probably a ridiculously extensive shoot reminiscent of his work with her on/in W (twice). I think this is a cool picture, but I kinda hate that she doesn't look like Madonna and wonder how much more—creative-wise—Steven Klein can do with her. She looks a bit like Dietrich—she always has—but not in the best sense this time. I'll reserve final judgement till I see the inside shots.
Like a wirgin...
Typically smart move to start with a trendy magazine like Dazed & Confused, which was co-founded by another Madonna lensman, Rankin. This hits the trendies, next up we'll get Vanity Fair to pull in her ancient fans and then Elle to drag in the (female) wannabes. I hope she'll do some stuff with gay mags, too—Attitude and The Advocate come to mind.
From an Aussie radio station, a leaked image of the 12 tracks rumored to make up Madonna's next studio album, Hard Candy, which drops April 29:
We've heard "Candy Store" and "Beat Goes On" and parts of "4 Minutes" (formerly "4 Minutes To Save The World"). "Miles Away" has been called a dance anthem, which I assume will also be applicable to "Dance Tonight." The other titles are interesting. I like "Spanish Lesson" as a title. I'm hoping "Devil" isn't a warning to avoid the devil tongue of gossip or something ridiculous.
Details (March 2008) goes all-the-way-gay with a tribute to (self-loathing closet case) Jack Kerouac via "On The Road," a fashion editorial by Alexei Hay. How gay it it? Gay, man, gay—check the rainbow coffee mug! All it's missing is one of those convincing-but-fake Bill Clinton/Al Gore shirtless campaign buttons somewhere:
...the punchline is, "The good news is that Bernard and Patrick had protected sex," a little black comedy to soften the earnest message. But I would argue that it accidentally argues against safe sex—sure, they used a condom, but we all gotta go sometime. More ominously, I think the ad could be more effective if it were exactly as it is, and the plane's descent were used to mirror the fact that they had not used safe sex—planning ahead and playing it safe can mean the difference between a natural lifespan and earlier-than-necessary death.
The article also contains this favorite, yet unsentimental, look at the gay journey:
And this hysterical spot that I remember ran at TriBeCa before Boy Culture:
The authors don't make strong judgments in this piece, but I think there are also several ads they argue are excusable because advertising is a short medium that "thrives in stereotypes." I think the explanation is plausible, but there's no excuse for being thoughtless in advertising—after all, the images used can sometimes be so powerful, one winds up selling their hackneyed message more than any product.
Along with all the commercials are dozens of print ads. The article is an invaluable collection and will have you preoccupied all day, so be warned.
I love David Archuleta—he's sweet and a brilliant singer and strikes me as a queen-in-the-making (maybe that is a princess). His singing last night on American Idol was fantastic, but I was really pissed off that in singing John Lennon's "Imagine," he cut out the most controversial and meaningful elements of the song:
Great performance, I still want him to win, etc., but by deliberately cutting out the verses about war and religion and nationalism, "Imagine" was reduced to nothing more than a vocal exercise. David's excuse was that he was pressed for time, but also that he found the verse he sang to be so "positive."
I have no idea and no way of finding out if he was too scared to sing anything provocative, if he's pro-war, if he's perhaps very Christian or if he was told by FOX not to sing those verses for any of those reasons. But whoever made the decision, it was really disrespectful of the spirit of that song. This is the kind of thing that should make Yoko fighting mad, not talented young singers named Lennon supposedly usurping her late husband's legacy.
Kudos to Randy Jackson for pointing out this ridiculous, gutless decision, no matter who made it. Other instances of "Imagine" being censored are numerous, and include this, this, this...the list goes on.
UPDATE: Thanks, John, for pointing out in the comments that David has sung the full song in the past...however, note that he—at age 13—couldn't bring himself to sing "hell," instead inserting "evil." (Last night, he mistakenly sang "sharing for the world" and on this version, he clearly thinks it's a "motherhood of man."—which is cute!) It's possible that last night he was worried the song might offend potential voters, or that he was out-FOX-ed. Probably we won't find out, but here he is at 13: