I cannot believe that Madonna is trying to pick a fight with basically one of the most brilliant people alive.
According to the sourcelink, Madonna appeared at a Billboard Women in Music event this past Friday to complain about sexism, ageism and misogyny, and specifically called out Camille Paglia for saying that Madonna had set women back by being such a total skank (my words, not Camille’s. And not Madonna’s.)
But here’s the problem. Camille Paglia used to be one of Madonna’s biggest supporters. And she’s not taking Madonna’s bitch-fest without having her say, too. Her entire response to Madonna’s rant is so beautiful, so eloquent, and so quintessentially Camille, that I’m reposting it here in its entirety, with my favorite bits in bold.
Because SUCK IT, Madonna.
Madonna is one of the most creative and influential women artists of the modern era. She transformed music and dance and produced stunning videos that were among the major works of art of the late twentieth century. She single-handedly broke the power of the Stalinist puritans of old-guard feminism and was instrumental in the triumph of pro-sex feminism in the 1990s.
Hence it is truly tragic to see Madonna descend into embarrassing displays of maudlin self-pity and irrational accusations against others. She is turning into a horrifying combination of delusional, vampiric Norma Desmond and bitter Joan Crawford on the bottle.
I was Madonna’s first major defender, when she was still considered a pop tart and a sham puppet created by shadowy male producers. In my ultra-controversial 1990 op-ed on her in the New York Times, ‘Finally, a Real Feminist’, I hailed her cutting-edge work and celebrated her embrace of sex, beauty, and Hollywood glamour, which had been under attack for the past quarter century of dreary second-wave feminism. I was widely attacked for my finale, which was dismissed as preposterous but which in fact came true: ‘Madonna is the future of feminism’.
It is absolutely ridiculous for Madonna to now claim that she longed to ally with other women at the start of her career but was rebuffed from doing so. The media, in the U.S. and abroad, constantly asked Madonna about me or tried to bring us together, and she always refused.
For example, in 1994, Esquire magazine asked me to interview her for a cover story, but she rejected the proposal. Instead, they got the geriatric novelist Norman Mailer, who knew nothing about Madonna or popular music, with predictably vapid results. HBO wanted to film Madonna and me conversing at a restaurant. Again, she rejected it. And Penthouse too proposed a joint cover story that was shot down.
The real issue is that while Madonna’s world tours have remained highly successful, her artistic development has been stalled for 20 years. The last truly innovative work she did was with electronica producer William Orbit. Madonna has become a prisoner of her own wealth and fame. Her most authentic ideas were inspired by her childhood rebellion against the repressive code of American Catholicism.
When she switched over to Hollywood chic Kabbalah, with its easy-going ethic and pat bromides, she lost her creative drive. Furthermore, Madonna seems to lack the humility and persistence that are required for the study of serious art. She collects art for display, but obviously it has not broadened or deepened her imagination.
The number one issue in Madonna’s current path of self-destruction is her embarrassing inability to deal with aging. She has failed to study the example of her great role model, Marlene Dietrich, who retained her class and style to the end. Madonna keeps chasing after youth, humiliating herself with vulgar displays, like the horrendously trashy, buttock-baring outfit she wore to the Metropolitan Museum of Art Gala in May.
She has become a cringe-making pastiche of ratty blonde hair extensions and artificially swollen cheeks, obscuring the magnificent classic bone structure that made her one of the most photogenic celebrities of the 1990s. In her struggles to stay relevant, Madonna has debased herself with adolescent, pitifully inept Instagrams that cannot compete with Rihanna’s brilliant work in that genre.
Instead of lugubrious rants and hysterical recriminations, perhaps Madonna should try a little honest self-critique.