Posted by Aphra Magazine on 24/4/15.
The hype surrounding Madonna and how most people assume that she’s too old to still be performing onstage and creating new music is hard not to notice. To many people, she is still the Queen of Pop, considering that at the height of her fame in the 1980’s, but others disapprove of her actions in continuing her music career today; she’s apparently reached an age now where she should be retired and enjoying her free leisure time at home instead. Why is she still wearing provocative outfits when she’s in her mid 50’s? Why is she flaunting herself when her time in the limelight apparently ended in the 1990’s? How does she even try to compete with the likes of younger artists such as Rihanna, Taylor Swift or Beyonce?
The answer lies in negatively skewed assumptions. I never thought that age could influence talent when we are told so often that ‘age doesn’t define a person’. However, that seems to melt away when people scorn Madonna for belting out her new hits onstage. Seems a bit hypocritical. She is a legitimate pop culture icon and the inspiration of fashion designers everywhere; Jean Paul Gaultier has featured her in many of his designs (anybody remember the conical bra?), as she constantly struts on a tightrope through her ability to challenge the boundaries and influence social change. She wore his outfits with a bolstering confidence and the assertion that she owned the stage, and many people do idolise her up to this day.
But why Madonna? What about Mariah Carey? She may be younger than Madonna, but she is still older than some of the most popular music artists in today’s generation, and she is mighty talented. There’s Kylie Minogue, who has always been a pop icon too – her newest album, ‘Kiss Me Once’, was generally embraced by listeners. Also, swaying in a different direction of music, Jon Bon Jovi is well-regarded for his hearty attributions to the rock genre, and despite the obvious difference in genre and style between him and Madonna, his age doesn’t seem to affect most of his audiences’ perspective of him as much.
So this brings about another question: does this age stigma of music artists vary according to genre? Is the concept of pop music only for young and emerging artists? Or does this stigma revolve around gender rather than genre? These questions tend to raise multi-faceted answers, since they tend to be subjective in nature depending on each person’s perspective.
Pop music itself is constantly evolving, and I believe that Madonna has revolutionised its development through her unconventional fashion statements and bold music career. She constantly eludes people’s attempts to label her with a single identity, as she creatively re-constructs herself on a constant basis and proves to us all that her identity is multi-faceted and complex. She has a rich source of knowledge regarding pop trends (considering her many years of experience as a performer), and constantly aims to expand the horizons and re-invent concrete definitions of social trends.
Madonna’s impact on the music industry is outstanding, and even if you don’t like her music; you have to admire her flamboyance. She is bold, sexy and radical; after all, she is the epitome of feminism, and has inspired other women to take a stance in their beliefs. She has openly supported gay rights paving the way for the legalisation of gay marriage in various contexts. She has raised awareness for debilitating diseases such as AIDS and HIV, and she has used her iconic status to make positive changes in the world. She doesn’t think her age should restrict her progress, so why should anybody else?