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Running head: MADONNA SHOULD NOT APOLOGIZE

Madonna Should Not Apologize for Her Ageist-Defying Moment Alejandro Montano Full Sail University

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Madonna Should Not Apologize for Her Ageist-Defying Moment On April 14 of this year, Wendy Widom wrote an article for the Chicago local CBS titled “Madonna owes Drake an apology for Coachella kiss,” which can be found at http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2015/04/14/madonna-drake-coachella-kiss/. In the article, Widom states that 56-year-old singer Madonna should apologize for kissing 28-year-old rapper Drake during their 2015 Coachella set, suggesting that this was a form of sexual abuse. However, Madonna should not apologize because the backbone of this backslash may actually stem from an institutionalized ageist and misogynist societal sentiment. Widom believes that “(Madonna) assaulted (Drake’s) face” with her “cringe-worthy kiss,” and then that she “(forced her) tongue into (Drake’s) mouth.” Hardly was this a “forced” kiss, much less an “assault.” In February of 2015, Drake had posted a photograph of Madonna with the caption “I wanna (sic) ride with you,” to which Madonna replied “Where to?” (Johnson, 2015). A week later, Drake released a surprise mixtape in which there was a track bluntly titled “Madonna,” about the very singer in question. Then in April, as Drake performed the song during his Coachella set, he invited Madonna onto the stage to perform a couple of songs, at the end of which Drake came back with a chair and sat down moments before the scandalous kiss occurred. Drake is seen trying to caress Madonna’s hair before she swiftly rejects the gesture with one hand, and then goes on to reach for what Widom calls a “ repulsed gasp for air,” as Madonna backs away. Drake himself then went on Instagram to respond to these claims saying, “Don't misinterpret my shock!! I got to make out with the queen Madonna and I feel 100 about that forever. Thank you @madonna" (Goodman, 215). This was an act that had probably been planned out for long before the set, not a surprise attack on the rapper.


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It’s hard to believe that the real public outrage stems from a concern in sexual politics and not from a dark and institutionalized feeling of resentment towards older people. Widom herself uses words in her article like “old lady in weird clothes” and “irrelevant” to describe Madonna (Widom, 2015), while others made remarks on social media saying she was “desperate for attention because her diapers are leaking,” and that she was going to “die of old age soon anyway” (Deino, 2015). Psychology professor Susan Fiske and graduate student Michael North of Princeton University conducted a research to find the reason for some of the ageist disadvantages that older people face in their daily lives, whether it’s in a work, health or social environment, in which they encountered what they call “prescriptive prejudice.” These prescriptive ageist prejudices are “beliefs about how older adults should differ from others,” with one of the key issues behind this stereotype being that older people shouldn’t behave younger than they really are (Hotchkiss, 2013). People demanding that Madonna “act her age” or “act graceful” seems to be a recurring cry that reflects on this issue of prescriptive ageist prejudice. The conflict with Madonna, however, is that she’s too unapologetically sexual, and that’s not what older women do. By introducing sexuality into the issue, Madonna awakens ageist sentiments that are intertwined with an even more institutionalized feeling of misogyny. Madonna’s entire career and persona have been built upon the fact that she was a sex symbol, an object women wanted to be and men wanted to possess, and her youth allowed her. Now, at her age, Madonna refuses to tone down the sexual nature of her power. Feminist theorist Germaine Greer explained at an International Women’s Day conference in Australia that young kids and older women are discarded from the media because they can’t be sexualized in the same way females “of childbearing age” can be (Cliff, 2015). Samantha Allen of the Daily Beast suggested that Madonna “has come to symbolize our culture’s fear of active, all-consuming female


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sexuality” (Allen, 2015); she’s taking the power this culture, enamored with an archetypal female figure, gave her, and spatting it back at it and showing it for what it is. Men don’t have to face this. Older men can be similarly discriminated against, just as women, but they won’t face the vitriol women will when it comes to owning up to their sexual desires. Hugh Heffner is infamously known for keeping 20 year old girls on rotation, while rock stars with the same celebrity stature as Madonna such as Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop and Paul McCartney, date young models, parade around stage almost naked, and constantly work with younger pop stars without half the backlash their female counterparts, old and young, face. If we look back at pop culture staples like People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” we will see that among those with the coveted title, Sean Connery, Richard Gere, Harrison Ford and Nick Nolte have all taken it home in their fifties and almost sixties, whereas Esquire’s equivalent “Sexiest Woman Alive” has never given the title to anyone over 42 (Allen, 2015). Essentially, what our culture tells us is that men mature, and women decay (Lothian-McLean, 2015). Madonna, as a performance artist, pushes buttons and challenges people towards different ideas; reason why the backlash she had to face during her peak years in the 80s and 90s for being so sexual, has now turned into common ground, when not praise, for younger pop stars following those footsteps. It is possible that Madonna continues to challenge our preconceived notions of women and older people, with kissing Drake on stage as just another power move in this bigger scheme of intentions.


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References Allen, S. (2015, April 14) What’s so gross about Madonna? Getting older, it seems. Retrieved from http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/14/what-s-so-gross-about-madonnagetting-older-it-seems.html Cliff, A. (2015, April 28) Why ageism in pop hurts females of all ages. Retrieved from http://www.thefader.com/2015/04/28/popping-off-ageism-madonna-ariana-grande Deino, D. (2015, May 25) Drake shames Madonna again onstage as his fans make vile, misogynistic, and ageist comments. Retrieved from: http://www.inquisitr.com/2118472/drake-shames-madonna-again-onstage-as-his-fansmake-vile-misogynistic-and-ageist-comments/ Goodman, J. (2015, April 14) Drake responds to everyone who thinks he was grossed out by Madonna’s kiss. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/14/drakemadonna-kiss-response_n_7061150.html Hotchkiss, M. (2013, April 19) Researchers chart new path for study of ageism. Retrieved from http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S36/49/28A93/ Irving, P. (2015) Self-empowerment in later life as a response to ageism. Generations, 39(1), 7277. Johnson, T. (2015, February 6) Drake and Madonna: hooking up?! Retrieved from http://www.thehollywoodgossip.com/2015/02/drake-and-madonna-hooking-up/ Lothian-McLean, M. (2015, April 15) The reactions to that Madonna kiss back up shitty ageist misconceptions about how men mature but women decay. Retrieved from: http://noisey.vice.com/en_uk/blog/madonna-and-music-industry-ageism Widom, W. (2015, April 14) Opinion: Madonna owes Drake an apology for Coachella kiss. Retrieved from http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2015/04/14/madonna-drake-coachella-kiss/

Madonna Should Not Apologize  

Essay written for the English Composition II course at Full Sail University.

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