note from Cannes

1

Our friend Randall* is at Cannes, screening two films he’s helped produce: AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH and FAST FOOD NATION. I don’t know what the word is on NATION, which I’m eager to see, but he reports that TRUTH is doing very well and “is the talk of the festival”.

2

Went to the Madonna concert last night. Thanks to connections and the willingness to spend an ungodly amount of money, we had the most amazing seats of any concert I’ve ever been to — on the floor, two rows from the front of the stage, where the crowd seemed a mix of worshipful gay men ranged along the stage and reaching out to the woman herself every time she danced down our way, blonde busty starlet types (trophy dates? though not of the gay men, obviously), more normal-looking women decked out in Madonna-type outfits from various stages in her career. My friend Jade paid a little “Like a Virgin” homage, showing up in a white lace minidress and pearls. There were also a number of people who seemed rather out-of-place and uncomfortable, who just sat in the folding chairs throughout and didn’t dance — I assumed they were relatives of people involved in the show.

And say what you want about Madonna, she gives great spectacle, and physically she’s just this marvel to behold — this carved-out pale-skinned woman (screw the fake tanning, says she, and rightly so) in one awesome Gaultier outfit after another — a singing dancing middle-aged homage to the powers of power yoga and strict nutrition.

And I loved the whole disco sequence when the dancers came spinning down the stage on roller skates. “I want that one,” I told Jade, pointing to the high-energy grinning shirtless boy who was like a mix of Keanu Reeves and a young Mick Jagger. I crushed on him madly throughout the show. During the ride back to the house — there were six of us, so we rented a limousine, not wanting to navigate the insane gridlock crush of cars and people leading up to and around the Forum where the concert was held — I mentioned I “fell in love with one of the gay dancers.” My husband was immediately able to guess which one. He knows me — and my tastes — so well. I was touched.

We were there with Bill the Hotel Guy, and his date, a sweet young thing in her last year at UCLA, at least a decade younger than me, who told us she was “surprised” by the number of people who filled a very large stadium. At one point she said that she considered Gwen Stefani “the modern day Madonna”. (Well no, I thought. Madonna is still the modern-day Madonna.)

I sensed some generation-gap here and tried to explain why I didn’t agree with this. “When Madonna came on the scene in the 80s, female pop singers were cute and wholesome. Now we’re so used to Britney and Christina and Gwen and whatever that it’s hard to remember when that kind of assertive sexual showmanship wasn’t the case whatsoever. Madonna wasn’t cute. Her sexuality wasn’t cute. She was in-your-face, aggressive with it, she made you fascinated but uncomfortable. She offended people. Pissed them off. Got under their skin. Gwen isn’t like that — she’s, you know, girly. Sexy-cute.” I mean, I like Stefani, but let’s be real here. It’s a hell of a lot easier to walk in ground that’s already been broken.

E asked, “So which young pop star do you think is most like Madonna?”

My answer was Christina Aguilera during the whole Stripped, Xtina phase — just because there was something angry and rebellious and defiant about what she was doing, how she was presenting herself — it was sexuality as a weapon — the more so because you watch it knowing that it’s a show, that Christina is so protected by her fame and wealth and status and round-the-clock security guards that there can’t help but be a kind of fuck-you quality to the outrageous outfits, the attitude — going out in public half-naked-provocative doesn’t make her exposed and vulnerable the way it would a normal woman. She wasn’t doing it to be appealing or cute or pretty, or to make you like her. She was doing it to make some kind of point, although, unlike Madonna, who’s being highly calculated even when she’s rawest, I’m not sure Christina herself really knew what kind of point she was making.

But put me down as one of the people who kind of loved the “Dirrty” video. (Besides, with a title like that, you know it’s not about milk and cookies.)

*Pseudonym

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