Journalist Liz Jones, writing for The Mail on Sunday in the UK, has conducted a little experiment based on the Mert and Marcus photos of Madonna that currently adorn Interview. Jones claims:
“When I first saw her provocative, vaguely sado-masochistic photo shoot in Interview magazine, I was full of admiration.”
I say claims because Jones has had vicious things to say about Madonna in the past, so it's very hard to accept that her first thought on seeing those photos wasn't really, “Oh, here's an opportunity to bash Madonna and get some clicks.”
She then spent money on Botox and fillers, and recreated the shots. She was not into any of the styling, complaining of how everything fit, felt and even smelled.
At the end of her breattakingly short essay, Jones has transformed from an admirer of the images to a vocal critic of Madonna and of the message she assumes Madonna is sending. With the certainty of a religious fundamentalist—one concerned about not the arousal of male desire but the incitement of female self-doubt—Jones declares:
“The nail (or drawing pins?) in the coffin of Madonna’s lifespan as a role model was the pose exposing her nipples, one you’ll be glad I do not emulate.”
Self-deprecation aside, just exposing her nipples means Madonna is permanently disqualified as a role model? And then:
“A woman who places physical perfection above all else is surely adding to figures that show half of 17- to 21-year-old women feel ashamed about the way they look. Madonna, you are the one who should be ashamed.”
Jones's entire stunt was contrived from the beginning. She's lying if she says she admired the images when she first saw them, because by the end of her story she's claiming the images are tantamount to submissive Playboy bunny poses. Surely this opinion did not creep over her during the shoot. (That the images are far from submissive is a point so obvious it's hardly worth arguing.)
Most offensively, Jones is explicitly shaming Madonna for looking the way she looks because if a 56-year-old woman looks good and revels in her appearance, that means young women will feel ashamed about how they look. Jones comes off as a body-image control freak.
As intellectually weak as her arguments are regarding Madonna's supposed beauty and its effect on other women, she gets pretty personal when claiming that Madonna places physical perfection above all else. Is Jones not aware that Madonna has given birth to two children, is a mother to four, has had marriages, relationships, has acted and directed in movies and is one of the most productive musical artists of her generation? Not to mention the fact that Madonna is active in charitable causes, and not just the kind that are sated with big checks.
Jones's resentment toward Madonna for her looks and/or her presentation leads Jones to condemn Madonna. As silly as the images in her article are (she looks fine for 56 and could have posed in ways that suited her instead of intentionally looking awkward to prove her point), her summation is downright scary—and is about far broader issues than simply whether or not you like Madonna.
P.S. Further reading:
Jones loving Madonna's style in 2008.
Jones backhandedly defending 50-year-old Madonna and decrying ageism.
Jones pointing out that “at 53,” Madonna's sexy stage antics should stop.