October 9, 2003

Open Media

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In the greatest travesty known to mankind since Dylan McKay had the nerve to choose Kelly over Brenda, Madonna had the audacity to cover Don McClean’s classic “American Pie,” thereby transforming the greatest masterpiece in rock history into a piece of techno garbage. Nowadays, the only things Madonna is saying “bye bye” to is her American accent, and as evidenced by her new children’s book The English Roses, any chances of ever being cool again. Now, don’t get me wrong. I was once as big a fan of the Material Girl as anyone. I rocked the black jelly bracelets. I owned fishnet stockings. But then things took a turn for the worse, as motherhood and discovering her spirituality proved to be a lethal combination. Simply put, sometime in the late nineties, Madonna got lame.

Roses is to Cinderella as Madonna’s “American Pie” is to McClean’s far superior version, minus the electronica beat. Madonna’s work portrays a group of four school-age girls, known as The English Roses, who are virtually indistinguishable from each other in every possible manner, except for the fact that they have different hair colors. Madonna then proceeds to chronicle the girls’ raging jealousy of Binah, whose hair is longer and blonder than that of The English Roses. As Madonna’s work reminds us, females are generally emotionally unstable and insecure. Therefore, The English Roses are clearly unable to cope with the fact that Binah (which happens to mean wisdom in Hebrew) may be prettier than they are, and subsequently, the girls spiral into a consuming fit of envy. Luckily, a fairy god mother appears just in time to teach the girls one of life’s most important lessons: pretty people have problems too. If the plot seems trite and contrived, the writing is even more so. The writing style is everything one would expect from the woman who brought us such lyrical brilliance as “Holiday! Celebrate!” and “I do yoga and pilates, the room is full of hotties.”

Perhaps the most telling aspect of Roses cannot be found in the book at all, but rather on the back cover in the form of the “about the author” biography, which tells us where Madonna was born, that she has recorded sixteen albums and made eighteen movies, and that she is now the proud mother of two. The first problem with this bio is that anyone who would ever purchase the book is well aware that the author just so happens to be an international superstar. Granted, this is a children’s book so it would be entirely inappropriate to include a more accurate author bio. For example, “Madonna propelled herself to international superstardom in 1984 by humping the stage while wearing a wedding dress and singing ‘Like a Virgin.’ More recent exploits include making out with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. Her previous book, aptly entitled Sex, chronicles all the excruciating details of her infamous sex life,” would not be suitable for a work geared towards the young. However, that is who the author truly is. She is not merely a recording artist and a mother. She did not propel herself into pop legend status on the merit on any of her sixteen mediocre albums, or any of her eighteen mediocre movies. Rather, it is her antics and intangibles that make her one of the most noteworthy women of all time. Madonna’s new book attempts to erase from history the sex, scandal, and smut that have transformed the artist from a pop star to a pop icon, in an effort to gain a new sense of legitimacy in the eyes of her children, along with the rest of the world. But in the process, Madonna simply erases any of the qualities that make her in any way remarkable.

Archived article by Talia Ron