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Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Third Sign of the Apocalypse: Madonna Releases Documentary, No One Cares

Posted by on November 2 at 11:30 AM

It’s no secret that we’re living in a time of deep, dark shit. (For fresh evidence, see Christopher’s preceding post about the brilliant and terrifying speech given during yesterday’s closed Senate session by Minority Leader Harry Reid.)

However, the full weight of the current national worries—Plamegate, bird flu, hurricanes, the ongoing tragedy of Iraq—didn’t really hit me until I realized that Madonna had made and released a new documentary film about her life and no one cared.

Cognizant thirty-somethings will recall the release of Madonna’s previous documentary film about her life—1991’s Madonna: Truth or Dare, which screened at Cannes, enjoyed a wide theatrical release, and was widely praised as the richest work of art Madonna had ever involved herself in.

The same will not be said of the new Madonna: I’m Going To Tell You A Secret, which screened at Hunter College, was given a straight-to-MTV release, and will forever be remembered (by me, at least) by its alternate title, Madonna: Now I Am Retarded.

Like Truth or Dare, Secret/Retarded follows Madonna on tour, but where the earlier film caught her at a thrilling tipping point—moving from pop-slut star to invaluable American artist—the new film finds her married, middle-aged, and mystic. Kabballah stinks up the movie like a parade of farts, tainting both the quality of her art (the tour features some of the most ludicrously pretentious stage-craft since Spinal Tap) and her offstage entertainment value (when she’s not subjecting her audience to Cremaster-inspired video segments about the Evil Beast of the World or trying to pass off yoga poses as choreography, she’s visiting dignitaries in Israel or reading self-penned rhyming poetry into the camera).

For what it’s worth, Madonna seems like a much better person now—stable, sane, and a good mom. (The segments with Rocco and Lourdes are the most interesting in the film, in no small part because both kids seem wonferfully, messily normal.)

But I may never forgive her for making me watch her line-dance in front of huge images of war casualties….

Still, you’ve gotta love a woman who can get words like these into the goddamn USA Today: “For me, the idea of God, or the idea of spirit, has nothing to do with religion. Religion is about separating people…Just about every war that’s ever been started has been started in the name of God.”