As someone who has enjoyed Madonna’s work for the past 30+ years, Matthew Rettenmund’s Encyclopedia Madonnica 20 interests me. But as someone who engages with extreme human behavior for my job, Matthew Rettenmund’s Encyclopedia Madonnica 20 fascinates me. And the behavior I’m most fascinated by is not Madonna’s, but Rettenmund’s.
At this stage in her career, it seems needless to distinguish between Madonna's musical output and her stunts. Both are products of a savant-like aptitude in attention-grabbing. Both have defined her image. Both have worked in tandem from the earliest days of her superstardom. "Like a Virgin" was a great slice of post-disco dance pop, but it was also the background music to her feral roll around the stage of the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards. "Justify My Love" is a truly bizarre pop song from Venus that was brought down to earth when its video was banned by MTV. The list goes on. She is the queen of shocking moments.
Madonna, who's been talking all kinds of nonsense lately in an effort to promote her new album, completed Us Weekly's reliably insane "25 Things You Don't Know About Me" interview this week. In it, she manages to throw shade at her competitors and make a weird, racist swipe at the backup dancers who allegedly caused her to fall at the Brit Awards.
Taking two sexy, talented females known for their raunchy antics and putting them on stage together should produce great television. But on Miley Cyrus' MTV Unplugged special Wednesday night, Cyrus and Madonna bumped crotches, sang poorly, and it was spectacularly unexciting. If anything, it was tired and sad.