The premier of a new Madonna video is a cherished event for gay men, with homosexuals the world over collectively taking pause to absorb her newest artistic masterpiece. Presumably rushed out following the commercial failure of her 90’s house homage “Living For Love,” her newest video for “Ghosttown” is unlikely to reinvigorate her fan base. It’s a serviceable song but the video is hopelessly doomed by the repeated appearance of one of Madonna’s greatest visual faux pas. Brace yourself for the unsightly return of Madonna’s white lady grills.
I have repeatedly railed against the tomfoolery that are white lady grills. I didn’t like it the first time she wore them, I didn’t like them when Katy Perry followed suit afterword, and I still don’t like them now. Madonna’s grills have never been well received which makes their reappearance all the more baffling. The rationale for her grill criticism varies. Some feel that this is a woeful instance of black cultural appropriation, while other think that they’re just plain ugly. Personally, I just think it’s tired.
Grills on white people have not been fashionable, audacious or avant-garde for many years. Jeffree Star rocked a grill in his Myspace days. That was the better part of ten years ago and that was the last time that grills on a white person ever registered any sort of audacious effect. It’s been done to death. At this point grills on a white chick are about as fashion forward and avant-garde as a fanny pack. Madonna’s stylist would do well to take note.
Due to its inherent comedic value, I am not necessarily opposed to all instances of white performers appropriating aspects of black culture. I cannot reasonable expect the entertainers of this nation to maintain any standard of creativity or originality, so I understand the constant need for it, but the white folk grill is just lazy. In a post Iggy Azalea world, rocking a grill just isn’t enough. Effective cultural appropriation requires a certain amount of diligence and Madonna clearly no longer has it. Madonna has repeatedly failed in her recent attempts at copping black culture. Her collaborations with rap artists have been consistently terrible, her homage to Doctor King was poorly received and she’s still clinging to tooth bling. This is just a tired series of clichés. If Madonna was truly enterprising in her appropriation of black culture she would get shot by the police. She needs to quit repeating herself and steal something fresh and new.
It’s not easy for me to say this. I am always hesitant to criticize Madonna for fear that it will jeopardize my chances of one day sleeping with Andy Cohen, but I love Madonna too much to sit idly by while she repeatedly pushes out the same sloppy clichés. Lately Madonna has been putting up a seemingly exhaustive effort to keep up with her younger contemporaries and it only serves to age her. It’s dispiriting to see one of pop culture’s greatest architects constantly on Instagram, ensnared by the same smart phone social media culture that diminishes so many of her colleagues. Madonna’s bizarre pandering to fad technology just makes her look desperate. She baffled her fan base by premiering her debut Rebel Heart video on Snapchat and she followed that with an even less successful attempt at debuting “Ghosttown” on Meerkat. The gimmicky smart phone app premiers are tiring, however I have to applaud her for Grindr Rebel Heart Sweepstakes. Some felt that this was in extraordinarily poor taste, but this wasn’t self-promotion. This was Christian charity. Anyone who would wrap their Grindr profile pic in Madonna styled wire clearly has no prospects of ever getting laid, so they should at least be given free Madonna albums for the futile use of that application. It’s good to see that Madonna still looks out for her gay fan base, particularly the unfuckable ones that are most in need of her guidance.
It’s too easy to dismiss Madonna as a dated prune in thigh highs, but Cher has shown us that a pop diva can continue to enthrall well into their autumn years. Factoring out the grill, Madonna still looks fabulous. She’s serving Stevie Nicks by way of Patsy Stone and I am absolutely living. Madonna is one of pop music’s greatest auteurs and I will always love her. I’m sure that Madonna will go on to thrill us once again, but she needs to get rid of that hideous grill first, and the sooner the better.