Nicole K Multifaceted Madonna There is a dramatic Chinese folk art called Face-changing, in which the performers change

the masks constantly to please the audience with novelty. Face-changing is a form of art which uses tricks to amuse people. Performers wave their arms, twist their heads, use their long sleeves as cover, and change their faces in a fraction of a second. Face-changing was first used in a story about a hero who stole from the rich to help the poor. When he was caught by feudal officials, he changed his face to puzzle them and escaped. The masks performers use in Facechanging are made of oiled paper that skillful performers can peel off within a second. Madonna could be a very skillful Face-changing performer since she knows how to play the tricks of changing very well. Watching Madonna is like watching Face-changing because there is always something changing about her look and her personality that cannot be predicted. Madonna does not have a fixed image. Neither does she have a set personality. She is not only a singer, but also an actress. She starts her career as a singer, in which she has very limited prospect of development because of her limited skill in singing. So she wisely puts on the mask of “actress” to give herself a fresh look. The change of her images is frequent and fast enough to keep the audiences’ interest. After the showing of her roles as singer and actress, Madonna pursues her career in business as well as book writing. Though she is criticized by most people for her pursuit in business and writing, she successfully changes her look, endowing herself with two more ornamental titles. Except for her multiple professions, fluctuation in her personalities is much more astonishing than the trick of changing her look. Face-changing is not simply about changing the masks. The colors and patterns of each mask reflect different moods and personalities. For example, the color of red represents anger and black represent fury. Madonna

does not need a mask to show her changing moods and dispositions. She is taking every chance to show her volatility anytime she wants. She developed her defiant personality since her childhood. She was bossy in her life and career. Her rebellious attitude worsened after her father’s second marriage. She does not want to follow rules, but for success she has committed to diligence. She is ambitious, and she is maternal. On the one hand she is frivolous, but on the other hand she is serious. She impresses the public with her naughty behaviors from her early musical videos. While people are still commenting her capricious actions, she suddenly contributes herself resolutely into playing the role of Eva Peron, convincing the audiences that she is a hard-working artist. She makes high-sounding announcements, while her vulgar actions diverge from what she says. Everyone still remembers her shocking bout of Sapphic kissing with Britney Spears in the MTV award ceremony when a lot of children were watching, before which Madonna made her lofty announcements of her understanding of maternity. In a word, Madonna is multifaceted, a nature that adds great value to her fame. As Paul Silvia says in his book Exploring the Psychology of Interest, a person’s interest can be sparked by novelty, such as contrast with prior experience or encounter with a totally new object (34). Madonna’s multiple facets create a high level of novelty to keep the public from boredom. Her constant changing of image and personalities attract public interest. She is always the topic of conversations and publications, either positive or negative. When one attempts to discover who Madonna is, he or she could notice how blurry her identity is. Madonna is identified as a singer, an actress, a dancer, an entrepreneur, a writer, etc. Madonna engages in various careers that she is seemingly not entitled to any specific profession. It is wise for her to choose multiple occupations instead of focusing on one single field, because to become a professional, one must possess outstanding skills either through a high level of

training and education, or by natural endowment. There are not many people like Beethoven or Mozart because most people are neither musical geniuses nor well trained musically. Neither is Madonna. Her musical life started from her engagement as a singer in a New York band called Breakfast Club. However, she is not a master of vocals. Madonna’s voice is so thin and high that she has been called “Minnie Mouse on Helium” (Bosma). “Material Girl” is a good example to reflect Madonna’s girlie voice. “Material Girl” is set in the key of C major, with Madonna’s voice spanning from the tonal nodes of C4 to C5, which is the most basic range for a soprano. Though the range of this song is not very high, Madonna is exaggerating her voice to match the robotic male voices in the chorus. The problem is that Madonna has a raucous and raw voice, which is not suitable to sing in the range of soprano from C4 to C6. In this high-pitched song, Madonna sings as if she is squeezing her voice up to the high range, which turns out to be very shrill. Besides the problem of pitch, she often sings off-key. In most of Madonna’s songs, she is so busy with dancing that she could hardly control her breath to sing well. The former rock critic Simon Frith admits that Madonna has very limited vocal range (Bosma). Obviously Madonna is not proficient in the field of singing. Her lack of special musical skills and talents should make her a mediocrity. Madonna knows clearly about the limitation in her talents. As she said, “I know I am not the best singer or dancer in the world. I know that. But I am not interested in that. I am interested in pushing buttons” (Taraborrelli, 7). Madonna did push a lot of buttons. She is doing everything she wants to do. Her multiple careers and changing personalities create incremental value. The more careers she has, the more opportunities of being the topic of public conversations. Without any specific professional expertise, Madonna still can become an entertainment industry phenomenon.

It is interesting to note that Madonna still goes for singing when she has no exceptional talents in it. She does so because pop singing is her realm where she can find her ego. In this field she is the queen who has control over herself and others around her. Madonna can express her rebellious attitude and defiant personality when she is doing pop music. Even though Madonna’s career started from her singing, she was actually planning to pursue a career in dancing. She went to study dance at the Christopher Flynn Dance School at the Rochester School of Ballet for several years. After her serious dance study with Christopher Flynn, Madonna received a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan in 1976. After her one year and a half study at the university, Madonna had determined to leave school and go to New York to pursue her career in dancing. Her roommate Whitley Setrakian remembered that “Madonna saw better things for herself if she moves on quickly, without so much as a glance back. She wanted to be a dancer. She wanted to go to New York and get into a good company” (Taraborrelli 33). Madonna had the enthusiasm for dancing. She had taken so much risk for dancing. Except for her passion, Madonna was also born into a gifted dancer. Her special talent in dancing was confirmed by the choreographer Pearl Lang. Lang recalled that Madonna “was an exceptional dancer. Many dancers can kick and exhibit acrobatic body control, but that is just run-of-themill, taken for granted. Madonna had the power, the intensity to go beyond mere physical performance into something far more exciting. That intensity is the first thing I look for in a dancer, and Madonna had it” (Taraborrelli 38). Madonna should definitely have continued to become a dancer. However, she did not carry on. Madonna’s termination in dancing was a rebellion to the rules and the discipline, which reflects her egocentric and defiant personality developed when she was a child. Madonna was born into a family of six children. Being the third child in the family, she was eager to be noticed. As she recalled, “I grew up in a really big family

and in an environment where you had to get it over to be heard” (Taraborrelli 7). However, Madonna’s family was a really strict and old-fashioned one. When Madonna was very young, her grandmother used to ask her to go to church, to love Jesus and be a good girl (Taraborrelli 9). This traditional Catholic opinion was against what Madonna wanted. She wanted to be noticed. It was not easy to attract attentions if she was just being obedient and good. So Madonna had chosen to break the rules. Madonna had done many wild things to get notice, such as burning her finger deliberately, or jumping on top of a table, lifting up her dress and showing her panties (Taraborrelli 11). All these behaviors would be considered to be inappropriate for a girl from a Catholic family. Madonna’s rebellious attitude intensified after her beloved father married a housekeeper. Madonna was very resentful about her father’s second marriage. As Madonna said, “I was in love with my father and I didn’t want to lose him. I lost my mother, but then I was my mother… and my father was mine” (Taraborrelli 14). Madonna was very angry at her father, which developed into a rebellious attitude against her strict Catholic father, against the rules he set up and against the discipline of life. When Madonna was studying dance, her dance instructor Christopher Flynn “stressed hard work and discipline, concepts Madonna had sometimes felt the need to rebel against in her home and at school, but which she now embraced as a dance student” (Taraborrelli 26). And Madonna recalls her instructor as very “Catholic and all about rules” (Taraborrelli 26). Her instructor was very like her father. However, Madonna did not show her rebellious attitude towards Flynn. Even though Madonna hates to follow rules, her ego to become somebody urged her to take over all those hard work. In addition, Christopher Flynn understood what Madonna wanted, toward which Madonna was very thankful. Madonna might have the talents and fervor to pursue a career in dancing, but she is too egocentric to be a dancer. When she was doing the audition for Pearl Lang’s company, Madonna’s exceptional dancing

talents were approved by Lang. However, Lang was not content with Madonna’s performance. As Lang said, “I knew she would have trouble being a dancer in any troupe because she was such an individual. It wasn’t really a matter of working hard; she worked hard. But not in a way that gave me hope that she could blend with others” (Taraborrelli 39). That is who Madonna is, a girl who always wants to express her own opinion and does not care what other people want. Madonna’s childhood experience had made her eager for attention. She wants to be noticed. That is why she performed unconventional behavior, such as doing cartwheels and handstand in the hallway between class, dangling by her knees from the monkey bars during recess and pulling up her skirt during class to show her underwear to the boys (Taraborrelli 21). All these actions drew a lot of attention from people around her, even though it made her name notorious. Dancing is not always an individual work. Most of the time it requires group work, and to follow the dance instructor’s advice. Madonna’s defiant personality had determined that she would not follow anybody’s advice and rules. She was so talented that her work needed to be appreciated, not criticized. At a point, Lang gave Madonna some advice, and Madonna curtsied and, in the most spiteful tone, said, “Why thank you ever so, Lady Hateful” (Taraborrelli 39). After that, Madonna was told to leave Lang’s company. After all her experience with dancing, Madonna had chosen to do music, playing guitar, playing organ, and eventually, she wanted to sing. Even though she is not good at singing, however, Madonna is free to express herself when she was doing music. She can define herself as whatever she wants. She does not need to obey anybody’s order. Neither is she buried in a group of performers. In singing she takes over the whole stage, doing whatever she feels like. As Whitley Setrakian says, when she came to meet with Madonna in New York, Madonna had “further evolution in her personality, more self-confidence about her decision” (Taraborrelli 45). “I sat in one of the chairs of the synagogue and watched her and saw

that she was really in her element. I knew that she was finished with dancing, even though she never said it. I could tell that she loved this side of performing, as a singer, an entertainer” (Taraborrelli 45). Madonna’s rebellious attitude can be seen from her early singing style. In the video of “Like a Virgin”, Madonna promotes the idea of sex without marriage, which received a lot of complains from family organizations. The topic of this song and Madonna’s seductive performance is challenging the tradition and conservatism. In some scenes of the video, Madonna is wearing the lily-white wedding attire, which is traditionally used as a signifier of purity and virginity. In the old-fashioned stereotype, every woman who wears this wedding dress has to be a virginal bride. Virginity is highly valued in the tradition. Whoever does not follow the rule is severely punished. As in old China, if a girl loses her virginity before marriage, she will be put into a pig cage, and thrown into the river, drowned to death. Women have no control on their sexual life. Even though Madonna is not living in China, she is voicing out for all women around the world. Madonna’s performance in “Like a Virgin” is challenging this stereotype and shackles. She wears the wedding dress, not for getting married, but for love. To Madonna, the lily-white dress is not confined in the church. Also, Madonna is delivering the message in the video that she is wearing the wedding attire, but she is not a virgin. When Madonna is singing in her wedding dress, she uncovers a piece of cloth and shows a red chair. The color of red means losing the virginity. Madonna’s action shows that she actively seeks to lose her virginity for her lover. She initiates the sexual relationship, rebelling against all the authorities and old fashion. This is the rebellious Madonna, and she is saying to all women that it is acceptable for them to lose virginity for love, regardless of the old-fashioned stereotypes. In her other single “Papa Don’t Preach” Madonna deals with another sensitive topic, which is teenage pregnancy. As the

video indicates, teenage pregnancy is such a taboo to which the older generations could not reconcile. If a girl has sex and gets pregnant, she is always the one who gets blamed for. It is really unfair that she has to take over the whole problem as if this is her own issue. Madonna addresses this issue in the song because she wants to arouse people’s thinking about teenage pregnancy. The girl is actually a victim. She needs understanding and support. As for Madonna, the song fits right in with her own personal zeitgeist of standing up to male authorities, whether it is the Pope, or the Catholic Church or her father (Scaggs). In the Catholic religion, use of condom is not promoted, which could lead to teenage pregnancy. As a result, the issue Madonna addresses in the song is questioning the Catholic doctrine. It is inconsistent for the Catholic Church to oppose the use of condom and blame teenage pregnancy. Madonna stands up to this conflict. In addition, this song touches the tensions between Madonna and her father. She is rebelling against her father in any way, including losing her virginity to her high school boyfriend Russell Long. Long recalled, Madonna would say, “What do you think he’d do if he knew we were having sex? Do you think it would freak him out? ... Maybe I should tell him” (Taraborrelli 25). Long says, “But my safety, or her privacy, wasn’t on her mind. If she could blow his mind, shock him, she wanted to do it. Even more than that, if she could piss him off, she wanted to do it” (Taraborrelli 25). In 1985, two years after her debut as a singer, Madonna entered the field of film acting, playing a role of an anonymous club singer in her first movie, Vision Quest. Since then, Madonna has been actively engaged in acting as well as singing. One critic has claimed, “Despite her status as one of the most successful pop stars in the world, Madonna’s acting endeavors continued to receive poor reviews” (NNDB). Even though Madonna is not an exceptional singer, compared with acting, her musical contributions are much better. She has

starred in numerous motion pictures, the majority of which have been box office failures. She is considered a jinx at the box office. One of the films where Madonna appeared is Shanghai Surprise, which was dismissed by moviegoers and received poor reviews. Madonna’s wooden acting in this movie made her the winner for Worst Actress in the Golden Raspberry Awards, an annual award ceremony held in Los Angeles to recognize the worst in film. Since most of her film acting does not receive good review, then why does Madonna still take risks in this career? One reason is that acting is really a good way to reinvest her images. In singing, she could only sing as a singer, no matter what styles she takes. In film acting, Madonna gets different opportunities to act various characters, which expands the limit of fixed image. For example, she plays a role of wisecracking street girl in Who’s That Girl, a tightrope artist in Shadows and Fog, a baseman in A League of Their Own, and First Lady in Evita. Despite the fact that her acting is poor, her engagement in films breaks out of the domain of pure singing, expanding her fame into the Hollywood market. As a singer, her name would only be seen in Billboard; as an actress, her name began to appear in Hollywood reports. Madonna’s film acting also brings her greater opportunities as a singer. In most of the movies in which she has acted, Madonna has obtained the chance to sing the theme songs, which, in return, has boosted her popularity as a singer. In her first movie Vision Quest, though Madonna only played the role of an anonymous club singer, her singing of “Crazy for You” in this movie turned out to be a great success and gained Madonna great popularity. Also, her acting in the film Evita made her the principle singer on the entire soundtrack. The song “You Must Love Me” from this soundtrack also won the Oscar for best song. If Madonna had never pursued a career in film acting, she would not have recognized by the Academy Award.

There is certain association between Madonna’s personality and her choice in pursuing film acting. Film acting presents what the actors pretend to show, instead of their true feelings. So acting is really a good way to conceal one’s real identity. As for Madonna, she is so capricious that she can hide the real her. As Taraborrelli says in the Author’s Note in his book, “While it may not always be easy to find the real Madonna amidst the hocus-pocus of public relations she manufactures to hide her true self, she's there just the same. In pursuit of her, one has to be perceptive enough to look beyond the thick smoke, away from the confusing mirrors. There hides the real woman.” Singing provides Madonna a stage to voice out her thoughts, and acting has produced the smoke that confuses the concept of who Madonna is. Every actor has to put on a mask for acting. Madonna has her mask too. Even though Madonna is very direct in expressing her feelings in her earlier stage, it is hard to survive in the entertaining circle if she is just being naïve and simple. In addition, she would easily get hurt if she is too easy to been seen through. To become worldly, singing is obviously not enough. Acting could give her a lot of experience of life, and turn her into a mature woman. Through acting, Madonna obtains the skills to hide her honest feelings and become a sophisticated woman. Acting is a good way to shape Madonna’s personalities. In addition, her experience is expanded through meeting different people who she comes across during acting. Compared with her singing, film acting reflects another facet of Madonna. Madonna’s image is more hostile in her singing, while her diligent attitude is show through her acting. She is hard-working and persistent in this career. When she was acting in the film Evita, Madonna had confronted with many difficulties. In this movie, Madonna played Argentina’s First Lady Eva Peron, a famous and popular figure who contributed her life to helping the people and developing the nation. It is really hard to associate Madonna’s image with such a dignified

figure. However, Madonna campaigned intensively for the role of Eva Peron by writing a persuasive letter to director Alan Parker and convincing him how perfect she would be for this role. After she successfully obtained the chance to act in the film, Madonna then faced another problem. There was a lot of opposition from Argentina. “Many of those living in Argentina believed that Madonna would desecrate the memory of their beloved Santa Evita. They feared that Evita, as painted by the flagrant Madonna, would be an insult to her memory – and for no good reason other than the fact that Madonna would be the one essaying the role” (Taraborrelli 1). Madonna was not pleased with this situation. She needs to convince the people that she is sincere in acting the role. Madonna was very demanding in her acting. She wants everything to be perfect. In the film, there is a scene where Madonna sings “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” at the balcony of the presidential residence. There was actually a replica of the balcony at Casa Rosada re-created for the movie in London. Madonna could just use this replica for her acting. However, she was not content with the way it was. She wanted to film that scene at the actual location of Casa Rosada where Evita gave some her appearances. Undoubtedly, filming at the actual location is much better than suing a replica. However, the problem was that the president of Argentina Carlos Menem did not permit the film company to film at the Casa Rosada due to public protestations. Madonna was so serious about her acting performance that she insisted on filming at the actual location. So she started lobbying the president of Argentina for the right to film at the Casa Rosada. She did a lot research about the president so she could know more about his life and political career. As Madonna said, “I want to know who he is. He certainly knows who I am” (Taraborrelli 3). She was properly dressed up for the meeting with the president. Her attitude was sincere in persuading Menem. As she said, “I so want to make this movie… I promised you that it will be fair. I want to be respectful to Eva’s memory. You must understand

that my intention is good” (Taraborrelli 5). Madonna’s sincerity was successful. She got the permission to film her movie in government buildings. Madonna’s honest attitude had convinced the president. Her authentic acting moved everyone on the scene. As Richard Zoglin says, Evita has been a crucial milestone in a career that has been reinvented Madonna’s image. The making of the film has produced another Madonna, softer and more chastened. However, Madonna is not content with her roles as a singer and actress. As her response to Dick Clark’s question about what she wanted to do when she grew up indicates, Madonna wants to “Rule the world” (Brown). And her ambition was proven successful when she entered into the world of business. In April 1992, she founded her own entertainment company, Maverick. Since then, she has claimed the name of “businesswoman”. Actually Madonna has no knowledge about revenues or business strategies. Her ambitious and outrageous attitude has earned her millions of dollars, and more important, her reputation as an outstanding and brilliant marketer. All artists have their own managers, which means, they are under the management of someone else. This is totally different for Madonna. She is not managed, but manages. Madonna defines herself as the Boss in her business. Her business style is all about ambition. “People who work with Madonna agree that she is a rarity among entertainers: a star who runs her own business affairs” (Schifrin). Madonna has the ability to put everything under her control. She is aggressive and vigorous. “To keep tabs on the day-to-day operation of her companies, Madonna has offices equipped with fax machines and multiple phone lines in both her Hollywood Hills house and her New York apartment. Each morning her puts together a list of goals to accomplish that day and list of tasks for her assistant and associates. Then from nine to eleven, she makes business calls, speaking to a variety of associates, including her agent, publicist and script readers” (Goodman). This is Madonna’s business life. As the chairman of Disney Studios Jeffrey

Katzenberg says, Madonna “has a very strong hand in deal making and financing of her enterprises. Nothing gets done without her participation. She uses her lawyers and accountants and advisers as aides in making her own judgment, as opposed to having them run her life” (Schifrin). Under the title of “entrepreneur”, Madonna attracts great attention from commercial industry. Even though the shrewd businesswoman image is incompatible with the naughty image that she crafts in her singing, Madonna’s involvement in doing business gets her a lot of credit. The media has been claiming her as “a dynamic entrepreneur who has succeeded in a competitive industry” (Anderson). Madonna’s ambition has made her company extremely successful, even though not financially. Madonna’s business success has extended her name to Wall Street, a place that perhaps has the least association with pop culture. The name Madonna became the topic of business publications, such as the Wall Street Journal and Forbes. Moreover, Madonna took advantage of her investment in Maverick. As she said in an interview, “the company started as a desire of more control. There’s a group of writers, photographers, directors and editors that I’ve met along the way in my career and want to take with me everywhere I go. I want to incorporate them into my little factory of ideas. I also come in contact with a lot of young talent that I feel entrepreneurial about” (Holden). Maverick provided her an opportunity to publish her first controversial book, Sex. Before Maverick was founded, Sex’s production was under the regulation of Time Warner, which required Madonna to sign an agreement that forbade her from including any photographs depicting children, religious imagery and bestiality. However, the foundation of Maverick made the agreement obsolete, since Madonna had total artistic control over any of the work released by Maverick. Madonna’s endeavor in business reflects her ambitious facet. The Forbes Magazine describes her as “one shrewd businesswoman. Taking a leaf from the Detroit of old, she restyles

herself almost every year. That keeps the fans happy and has earned her at least $125 million over the past five years” (Schifrin). As Madonna’s childhood friend Messana recalled, she and little Madonna would make things up and fight over who would get to be the star (Cawley). Madonna has her marketing brilliance, and her ambitious attitude makes her a well-recognized entrepreneur and a rich woman. There are thousands of pop singers and artists in the world. Madonna is the one who manages to succeed financially because from the first day she entered on the stage; she knows clearly where she is – a place where ambition survives. As Stephen Brown says, “There is no tougher business than show business. It is a veritable war zone, where the make-a-buck battle is fought incessantly against countless competitors and a constantly changing cavalcade of knock-em-dead concepts, products, and brands. It s a battlefield, moreover, that accounts for an ever-rising proportion of national output and expenditure.” Survival in the severe competitions of commercial world is a good experience for Madonna. Madonna’s investment in Maverick does not only reflect her ambitious persona, but also her outspoken characteristic. Although Madonna contributes a lot of efforts to the operation of Maverick, the company was operating under substantial losses, costing Madonna millions of dollars. Madonna had brought a lawsuit against Time Warner in 2004, alleging Maverick was operating under poor management and seeking millions of dollars in damages. Madonna also wanted to end to the joint-venture relationship between the two companies. Though Madonna was the owner of Maverick, Time Warner was actually the big boss. Madonna signed with Warner Bros. in 1982. Most of her artistic activities were sponsored by Time Warner. Even when Madonna ruled Maverick, Time Warner still had the talk. It is worth noting that Madonna risked her music career for suing her own company. Madonna is really straight on her problem. She insists on what she thinks, even if it would offend other people. On this issue, Madonna did not

surrender. Eventually, Madonna was bought out of Maverick by Time Warner, and she continues to record with Warner Bros. Madonna’s outspokenness won. Most important, Time Warner cannot afford to lose Madonna. Madonna knows her value. Madonna’s multiplicity never ends. In 2003, Madonna launched her venture in storybook making. She published her first children’s book The English Roses, targeting children from ages four to nine. Madonna’s engagement as a children’s book author aroused a lot of criticism from society. Some thought she would be incompetent as a children’s book writer, either because her “tramp” image would set up a terrible role model for her little readers, or because of her poor skills in writing a children’s book (R.S.). Some have criticized her book as having too much text for little kids and too many pictures to attract older children (Gurdon). No matter how negative the reviews are, her book has been translated into more than twenty-five languages and distributed in 100 countries, aiming to attract little international readers. The English Roses is about four girls who are jealous about a beautiful fifth girl and behave frostily to her. Even though this is a book for kids, librarians have called it an “issue-driven” book. The moral lesson addressed in The English Roses has made the book more seemingly suitable for adults. As Gurdon says, children reach for books of exciting adventure far more quickly than they do for books of virtue. Gurdon also raises a question in his article in the Wall Street Journal that whether any child will beg to hear The English Roses more than once or twice. In spite the fact that Madonna’s The English Roses is marketing as a children’s book, it appears more likely to be for adults who could understand the moral issue. One possible reason for Madonna packaging her book as a children’s book is that, her name could be introduced into the younger generations who might become her fans when they grow up. After the release of her book, Madonna has been busy publicizing her image into the children readers, such as reading the book to them in

the library. Even though Madonna has been a legend, after decades, her name would possibly be forgotten by later generations. One way to maintain her reputation is to go into the younger kids and make them know whom Madonna is. The facet reflected in Madonna’s writing is much more emotional and tender. “When asked why she decided to write children’s books, Madonna said that she was inspired by her Kabbalah teacher to share with children some of the wisdom she had learned as an adult” (St. James). The fifth character Madonna designed for The English Roses resembles the little Madonna on many ways. The little girl’s mother dies, she has a lot of chores, she has no friends and she is lonely. Madonna’s book is very like the fairy tale Cinderella, and she is reflecting her image as a modern day Cinderella through her writing. The fairy-tale Cinderella has no mother. She is tortured by her evil stepmother with lots of work. While Madonna grew up, very like Cinderella, she was not under the protection of her mother, she had a lot of responsibilities and she did not like her stepmother. What is different is that, Cinderella is not lonely, but Madonna was. Madonna was too busy with her chores to find friends. Although the fairy-tail Cinderella has no mother, she has a lot of friends. Her life is accompanied by the birds, the squirrels, the rabbits, etc. And the most important, she is rescued by the handsome Prince. Real life is not fairy tail. There is no glass shoes or prince. Madonna did not expect her prince to save her out from her situation. Madonna’s childhood experience deserves sympathy. If she were Cinderella, she would have been someone very gentle. However, Madonna’s persona is not shaped that way. Reality is cruel. If she is not rescued by anybody, then Madonna is the only one who could save herself. She needs to be tough to get rid of her situation. As she said, “I’m going to be really strong if I can’t have my mother. I am going to take care of myself” (Taraborrelli 13). The way she behaved strongly is through her rebellious attitude, not because she was born into such a girl,

but the environment she lived in determines so. According to Russell Long, Madonna’s high school boyfriend, Madonna “wasn’t like most other students. There was a group f kids who were just the odd ones, the ones most of the students thought were sort of creepy. Madonna was in that bunch. She didn’t assimilate into the student body, rather she was one of those kids on the fringe, sort of one the sidelines smirking at everyone else” (Taraborrelli 25). Actually, Madonna is eager for understanding of her wildness and her loneliness. As in her book, she names the little girl who mirrors her “Binah”, which means understanding. It is the claim that Madonna understands what life would be for a little girl if no mother exists. It is also Madonna’s appeal to the public for understanding of her actions. Madonna had developed a very good relationship with her dancing instructor Christopher Flynn, who is about thirty years older than her. It is not easy to get along with Madonna since she has been setting up fences around her to protect herself. And Christopher Flynn is not quite easy-going. As Whitley Setrakian said, Madonna “worked well with Christopher Flynn, though a lot of other students didn’t. He was a delightful person, and yet scary in ballet class because if he thought you were lazy he would pinch you really hard and leave little blood blisters on you. I had some trepidation about that, but Madonna didn’t. She liked it, actually. He was flamboyant and sarcastic, like her” (Taraborrelli 30). Flynn understands Madonna’s inner world and appreciates Madonna’s hostile persona. In her book, Madonna does not only design the character Binah, but also other four characters and develops a story line that the four little girls are guided by the godmother and find out the what kind of girl Binah is, and eventually, they understand Binah’s problem and make friend with her. The story has a happy ending, which is actually what Madonna wants. The fairy godmother sums up in the book, “In the future, you might think twice before grumbling that someone else has a better life than you.” This is Madonna’s wisdom she mentioned. Thinking twice means to understand. Her behaviors

and actions are criticized, or her persona is accused of. The tender side of Madonna asks for understanding. Through her writing, her innermost feelings are shown to the public. Madonna’s multiple facets are not only shown in her various careers but also in her mercurial attitudes. From the beginning, Madonna has been trying to set up her image as a pop star. She is bold in her expression, and her actions are extreme. Sometimes she is even impudent. In her 2003 Girlie Show in Puerto Rico, Madonna scrubbed the nation’s national flag around her body, which caused uproar in the society. The critics were very harsh. Puerto Rico’s congress condemned Madonna for abusing their national flag. A lot of Puerto Ricans gathered near Madonna’s mansion in Miami to protest against her disrespect for the flag. As Richard Corliss from Time Magazine says, “It is tough to stay on top by spanking somebody’s bottom.” Madonna is always pushing the boundary, which impresses the public with her rude and disrespectful attitude. Madonna is impudent, but she is not wicked. She is like a spoiled kid who plays tricks on other people, but not in a bad intention. As her brother Christopher said, “She was spoiled from he very beginning…But she was good-hearted” (Taraborrelli 9). When she is on stage, Madonna might appear crazed and wild; she has another facet hidden under her saucy appearance. Her former manager Freddy DeMann remembered a story happened during Madonna’s show. “I remember a time, long after her first taste of fame, when a girl in one of her audiences was being pushed around by some guys in front, trying to get closer to her. Suddenly, the girl went down, into the crowd. It was as if she was going to get stomped. Then a couple of guys went down after her, and none of them came up. Madonna was watching the whole thing. She stopped the show, stopped singing, and called security out and told them to help that girl” (Taraborrelli 36). Madonna’s consideration for the girl indicated that she has her gentle side. She is a tough lady, and at the same time, she is considerate. One controversial topic about

Madonna’s personal life is her relationship with her father. As her attitude shows, she is really rebellious toward her father. It seams there is a big problem that cannot be solved between her and her father. However, Madonna defiant persona does not mean she hates her father. She is hiding her feelings. Madonna’s cousin Gina Magnetti reported that Madonna once had a big fight with her father. “I thought Uncle Tony would have a stroke, his face got red, his blood pressure shot up and he looked like he was being stricken. Madonna got scared and ran to him. Down on her knees in front of him, she started crying and apologizing. ‘I’m so sorry,’ she kept saying. ‘I didn’t mean it. I didn’t mean it.’ An apology to her father? Why, that was a major concession on her part” (Taraborrelli 34). Madonna’s persona is quite complicated to be analyzed. No matter how wayward she was, Madonna is soft-hearted. After Madonna became a mother, she is trying to project a maternal image to the public. When she was in the showroom with Oprah Winfrey, Madonna brought tears to the audience when she described feeling her baby kicking on Mother’s Day. She is taking her way to turn herself from a bossy girl into a nurturing mother, which aroused a lot of discussions. As her career in pop music declines, she is trying to shift the public focus from her venture to her nurture. Every time when she is in public, she would talk about her daughter and her experience as a mother. Her children’s book writing also has something to do with her maternal idea. As she explained to the media, she was disappointed with the quality of stories available to read to her daughter and son. She “couldn’t believe how vapid and vacant and empty all the stories were” (Gurdon). “There were no lessons. I don’t see anybody struggling for things.” She also said, “Raising children makes us more responsible and more thoughtful about our own actions and their consequence for those around us.” This is a really laudable sentiment. The problem is, her action diverges from her lofty announcements. She sets up an image of mother and tries to get

support from maternal females. However, maternity does not seam to have any impact on Madonna’s personality. If Madonna thinks that motherhood makes her more thoughtful about her actions, she would not have the controversial kiss with Britney Spears at the MTV awards, while everybody’s children were watching. Some critics say that her high-sounding statement somehow sounds like a faint whiff of hypocrisy. She defines her own way as being a mother. As she announced to USA Today, “My having a child is not for public consumption. It’s not a career move. It’s not a performance to be judged and rated” (Cawley). Her figure as a mother could be dated back to her childhood. After her mother died, little Madonna not only learned to take care of herself, she also took good care of her brothers and sisters. “As the oldest girl, she was happy to take on the maternal role with her siblings. In fact, her brother Martin remembers that Madonna not only fed the younger children but she always made sure that they were properly dressed for school. ‘I didn’t resent having to raise my brothers and sisters as much as I resented the fact that I didn’t have my mother,’ Madonna confirmed” (Taraborrelli 13). Madonna’s way of raising her siblings and her daughter is totally based on her perception of what a mother would do. She did not have a maternal model in her life telling her what a mother should do since her mother died when Madonna was young. She defines a mother’s job according to her understanding. In 2006, Madonna founded a charity non-profit organization Raising Malawi to help with the extreme poverty and hardship endured by the Malawi one million orphans, in order to set up her image as a philanthropist. Her philanthropic action was supposed to get a lot of welcoming from society, but, on the contrary, it aroused a lot of critics. To show her maternal kindness in helping the children in Malawi, Madonna names the organization “Raising Malawi”, which treats the village as a child of her. The marketing imagery and language of Raising Malawi is the

focusing point of criticism. As Mana Prochuk criticizes, “In case someone might miss the parentchild metaphor implicit in Raising Malawi’s name, the logo confirms it: a silhouette of a child atop an adult’s shoulder has been stamped all over the charity’s promotional materials.” The problem is not on raising the children, but on who raises them. The marketing strategy of Raising Malawi consistently conveys a message that Madonna is the woman in the world who could save these children from poverty and help them become the future of Malawi. The role that local adults play in the care of Malawi’s children is hidden under Madonna’s maternal role in the charity. From the website of Raising Malawi, to the documentary I Am Because We Are, Malawian women are either nowhere to be seen or appearing in a montage of portraits of sick and dying people. Reductive motherly imagery of local women could highlight Madonna’s maternal image. Also, Madonna’s adoption of two Malawi kids is controversial. Human rights group in Malawi want injunction against her adoption of David Banda because the child’s biological father did not what to lose the custody of his own son (Carrillo). Even though her benevolent actions trigger a lot of negative criticism, Madonna never gives up her determination for charitable work. She always acts according to her will regardless of other’s opinions. She knows what she is doing. It is worth noting that many of her charity work relates to children, especially orphans. As for Raising Malawi, Madonna’s aim is to bring an end to the extreme poverty and hardship endured by Malawi’s two millions orphans and vulnerable children. Also, as mentioned before, her writing is targeting children. No matter how brassy she is, in her later stage, Madonna tries so hard to build up her maternal quality. The formative event in her life that contributes to Madonna’s pursuit of maternity is her mother’s death in Madonna’s childhood. Madonna’s mother died of breast cancer at the age of thirty when Madonna was only six years old. As she

told Prime Time Live, “I really did feel completely abandoned at that point in my life, and I am sure that has influenced very decision that I have made and sort of left me with a feeling, a hunger, a longing, a feeling of emptiness” (Cawley). Madonna’s growing up without her mother’s love really makes her childhood incomplete. Her suffering turns out to be a motive to build up her own maternity as compensation. Madonna gave birth to her daughter little Lourdes, without marrying her daughter’s father. She has said that there is no need to get married because she is perfectly happy with the way things are (Cawley). What Madonna needs is not a man, but a child to heal the pain she felt growing up without a mother. From the beginning of her career, Madonna has appeared as a tough woman who controls her own life and manipulates whatever goes on around her. It is the mention of her mother or her motherhood that makes Madonna’s tough image softer. Madonna’s maternity is not confined to her own daughter. She also adopted two kids from Malawi. Interestingly, both of these two kids, Mercy and David, are not completely in orphanage. Their biological fathers are still alive, but mothers dead. Madonna’s adoption aroused a lot of opposition, however, she still insists on her adoption. Mercy’s father told CBS News that he wants to take care of his daughter, and he is capable to take care of Mercy (McElroy). And David’s father told the Associated Press that he sees no reason why he should give away his son (Carrillo). However, Madonna does not think the same as the fathers or the public. To Madonna, the mother’s nonexistence means complete orphanage. She suffers the pain of growing up without a mother. Mercy and David would feel the same pain for being in the situation of no mother. The existence of father cannot make up the emptiness. Madonna has emphasized so much on the role of mother in a kid’s childhood that she wants to be mother of every kid who has no mother. As in Raising Malawi, the diminished role of Malawi women also reflects Madonna’s hunger for motherhood. Madonna once made a statement that Raising

Malawi is one of her proudest achievements. She considered this as an achievement because through Raising Malawi she has become mother of two million kids, a great success that fulfills her maternal eager. Madonna’s maternal image has much to do with her love and hate relationship with her father. In Madonna’s mind, no women could take the place of her mother. However, her mother is not here any more, there must be a female figure in the family to take care of everyone. And that is Madonna. She had been trying to get approval from her father as a surrogate mother. As she said, “I was looking for a mother figure” (Taraborrelli 14). She was trying very hard to prove that she was competent to take care of her mother’s children. She was trying to convince her father that they did not need a stepmother. However, she failed. Her father married their housekeeper, creating a mother figure in the family. Her stepmother does not only replace Madonna’s mother, but also Madonna’s role as a surrogate mother. Her father’s second marriage ceased Madonna’s maternal intention, leaving her anger and eagerness. Since her willingness to be a mother figure was denied, Madonna turned back to the role as a daughter, a rebellious daughter. Her mother’s death created the emptiness, while Madonna’s father deepened her emptiness. Though Madonna projects her images that fluctuate ambiguously, she is confronted with the problem of being stuck with the name of “Material girl” after the release of the song “Material Girl”. The song has made Madonna an icon of materialism. In the video, Madonna posits herself under the superficial mask of material girl who desires money and jewelry, but out of the frame she dreams for simple romance. Many magnates cluster around Madonna, offering her cash, diamond and furs to attract her attention. It looks like she is impressed by all these material things. In fact, she turns them down and goes on a date with a director who offers her flowers. As Madonna says, the song is an irony. However, the impact of “Material Girl” was not

circumscribed by the video, but by the lyrics. Contrary to what the video portrays, Madonna’s public image is symbolized by the lyrics “You know that we are living in a material world and I am a material girl” “The boy with cold hard cash is always Mr. Right” “If they don’t give me proper credit I just walk away”. The concept projected by the lyrics has attached to Madonna for decades. As Simon During says, “with the release of her debut album, the entertainment industry quickly hits on ‘The Material Girl’ as a fitting moniker for the budding star that has stuck with her ever since.” Madonna has often remarked that “Material Girl” is the song she most regret recording, as the name has became a pseudonym for her in mainstream media. As she said in an interview, when she is ninety, she will still be the material girl. After this song, her everchanging image is permanently defined by this word. The “Material Girl” video does not only set up Madonna’s image as a material girl, she is also being equated to Marilyn Monroe. This is the first time that Madonna’s image is defined by other person. During her career, Madonna has been trying very hard to reinvent her image and style to remain fresh and innovative. However, her material girl image is not her innovation. People always associate her with Monroe’s take on “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” Madonna tries to make it clear that she is actually not like Monroe. “Madonna projected an image of the self-possessed woman who will get out of life exactly what she wants regardless of what nay man might want her to be. She conveyed a strength of will rarely matched by any other pop singer, woman or man” (St. James). Compared with Monroe, Madonna is actually stronger and more independent. Not only do Madonna’s persona vary all the time, the concepts reflected in her songs also changes, from decadence in “Like a Virgin” to counter-war in “American Life.” The seductive Madonna is quite different from her later singing style. In the recent decades, her musical expression expands to the area of politics. As the concepts delivered in “American Life”, what

Madonna sings reflects the public resentment to the Iraq War. In the music video, Madonna appears in a military uniform. She is acting like a superhero who express the idea of the public. What is recognizable in this video is not Madonna’s ironic performance, but her pronunciation of her opinion through her music. Madonna’s music is not simply music; it is Madonna herself. Her persona is clearly reflected though her musical expression. She is daring in her announcements. She has the ability to stir public emotions, either religiously or politically. In this song she is taking every chance to vent her anger on the beats and raps. Madonna is provocative. Madonna is not involved in politics. However, as usual, she has her way to get involved, not only herself, but also her audience. Madonna is a stunning woman. Madonna impresses her audience with her multifaceted nature. She announces who she is and how she lives to the world. As the lyrics from her single says, “Unlike the others, I’d do anything/I’m not the same; I have no shame.” Her fame is built on her multiplicity, and the way she defines her multiplicity. Madonna is like a piece of diamond. The more facets there are, the more scintillating the diamond is. This is also true for Madonna. With all these multiple facets, she catapults from obscurity to international stardom. Madonna knows clearly the benefit she would get from her multiple images and personalities. She is not set to any fixed image, and she maintains her novelty in the topic of public. She is not the best. However, being multifaceted, she became the most famous. As Encyclopedia introduces, “Madonna has successfully reinvented herself many times since she first appeared on the American scene. There is no doubt that she will continue inhabiting new roles, creating new looks, and exploring new territory, creating controversy and attracting attention, for many years to come.” This is Madonna.

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