The Power of Madonna
Tonight’s episode, "The Power of Madonna," was everything I love about Glee, and actually, everything I love about Madonna too. It was an episode clearly written and directed by a fan—and I didn’t just know this because of the montage scene where they managed to represent nearly every outfit Madonna has ever worn through the students in the hallway. This episode was crafted in the careful hands of someone who looked at Madonna and everything she has ever been and saw not a tramp or a whore or even just a beautiful, powerful woman; the author of this show saw the icon in Madonna, the image by which a woman or a man, gay or straight, could see and imagine that maybe, just maybe, they could be that confident one day too. Even just for an hour.
I especially appreciated the feminism in the episode, because Madonna’s feminism is MY kind of feminism. It’s more than just the power to be equal to men; it’s the power to seize the real power of the feminine. Madonna sexualizes a three-piece suit; there is no neuter here, and there never has been. She’s not a woman fighting for her place; she is a woman MAKING her place, and she does it with the sex left in. This is why, whatever she does, perhaps excepting the past few years, she’s on the cutting edge and usually pissing a lot of people off. She’s the cutting bitch of Santana. She is the balls(uterus?)-to-the-wall Sue Sylvester. She’s even Rachel and her I-will-claim-my-fame attitude. Hell, she’s Quinn a little too.
When I was in high school and college I didn’t listen to Madonna, but I admired her and wished her well. When I married Dan, I married Madonna too, but I don’t mind. Because when I got to know her through my husband’s eyes, I realized she was even more powerful than I knew, an icon not just to women and gay men, but to straight men too—if they’re brave enough to claim the kind of power she models. And at some point during this episode and after fifteen years of watching Dan Cullinan worship at the altar of Madonna, I realized that what she taught my husband was that it really was okay for him to be whoever he was. I don’t think it was conscious, no. But I don’t think that it’s any accident that Madonna is the hands-down top idol of a man who is–trust me–blissfully heterosexual but reads and enjoys m/m fiction. Or that he has all the surface looks of a good-boy—pharmacist, wife and child, two cars and a garage, a mortgage and some student loads—but is in no way a slave to the suburb cookie cutter. And it probably has a great deal to do with the fact that I have never, not once, seen or heard an anti-feminine comment out of him. Not once.
I suspect there will be a lot of hating and whining and turning up of noses by people who think Glee and Madonna, and especially Glee and Madonna together, is just silly and trite, and will be impatient to see all this go away. To those of you who feel this way: I’m very sorry for you. Because you have no idea what you’re missing.