The Day the Music Died Laughing: Madonna Country

Sean Albiez

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    Madonna's twenty-year career has been founded on the often controversial appropriation of icons, images and musics derived from the (sub) cultures of American and European identity. Through this ?subcultural tourism? (Tetzlaff, 1993, p. 259) she has repeatedly addressed issues of identity and cultural politics. However, this expedition through alternate ethnic, sexual and gender identities has left her American national identity and ethnicity relatively unacknowledged. Madonna is a white, Roman Catholic, northern, urban, half French-Canadian, half Italian, working-class North-American who has transcended her social class and cultural origins. She has almost consistently refused to address personally or creatively this litany of specific markers of identity with the main exception her Catholicism. She has embraced her paternal Italian heritage (memorably asserting ?Italians Do It Better? in the ?Papa Don?t Preach? video ? Foley, 1986) but at the expense of her maternal North American roots, reproducing the patriarchal cycle of the denial of maternal inheritance. After all, we are more able to recognise Madonna as an Italian-American Ciccone than a French-Canadian Fortin (her mother?s maiden name). Ethnicity and race have been central themes in much of her work but, arguably, she has been on the whole blind to herself as a white American. bell hooks (1992) specifically has criticised Madonna for this myopia, encouraging her to look to herself rather than to others in search of an understanding of cultural politics and power: 'Perhaps when Madonna explores ? memories of her white, working class childhood in a troubled family in a way that enables her to understand intimately the politics of exploitation, domination and submission, she will have a deeper connection with oppositional black culture. If and when this radical critical selfinterrogation takes place she will have the power to create ... acts of resistance that transform rather than simply seduce (p. 164).'
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationMadonna's Drowned Worlds: New Approaches to Her Cultural Transformations. (1982-2002).
    EditorsS. F. Hernandez, F. Jarman
    PublisherAbingdon: Ashgate Publishing
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


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