Madonna: Truth or Dare

Reviewed By Thom
Posted 06/19/02 15:09:33

"All it takes it some Blonde Ambition"
4 stars (Worth A Look)

Fags everywhere rejoice that their Goddess has chosen a tour documentary to part the beef curtains and let them into her inner sanctum. I admit that I too am an obsessive voyeur. How could I not be? And Madonna is pop's number one party princess BAR NONE. I wanted to see the glamor, the sweat, the hotel room parties. I wanted to see "her" with her guard down, hair up in curlers, nursing a hangover. So for all that, at the time it came out, there was some novelty interest. I kind of dug the Blonde Ambition tour and the phase Madonna was in when she made the film. I've never been a huge fan but I've never been a naysayer either. But when it comes to repeat viewings, I'd rather watch Medusa - the Truth or Dare Spoof created by Julie Brown (Strip Mall).

But I didn't see it on the big screen. A 15 foot Madonna leering at me through fake eyelashes and face pulled up tight into that ponytail braid wrap last seen taking refuge on Gwen Stefani's head was more then the serious scholar I was pretending to be could handle. I was beyond pop and gestating in the amniotic fluid of literary theory, esoteric philosophies and Opera. How my friends could have let me get strung out on that junk, I'll never know. I figured education would elevate my status from guttersnipe to someone who would move with ease among the landed gentry. Even that story was fueled by the Victorian fantasies of Thomas Hardy who knew exactly what a guy like me wanted.

Needless to say, I wasted my time. I don't regret college, but I gave up being hip and worked very very hard to become incorrigably square while deriding my friends for still taking E and dancing all night at exotic House parties. I was so fed up with being cool, with being the "it" guy that I had to redefine myself. I hightailed it out of the limelight, got my haircut at Supercuts and moved to San Bernardino. That was the period of my life I like to now call "the ugly years" but it was those years that nourished my curiosity about the world, forged my intellect and most importantly, taught me about discipline, persistance and simple faith. I also lost all my friends and then had to go about getting them back several years and New York later.

I don't like to think about those years, hiding under a persona that wasn't me because what was me obscured what I was trying to do. And watching Madonna makes me think of that use of persona when you are a public figure. It doesn't matter if you are seeing the "real" Madonna. What matters is that you think you are. Madonna showed us that you can show your body from the inside out, take someone on a little tour of your home, introduce them to your friends and be ubiquitous and still have a "you". The you that sits inside the spaceship that is your famous life while you pilot around the popiverse. The you can set the ship on cruise control and engage in your private rituals that keep you grounded in yourself. It's not that she's acting like a Diva. She just is a Diva. Madonna is the ultimate spin cycle.

If I were her, I'd be incredibly interested in, at some point, creating a Britney Spears to take attention off herself.
As tour films go, this is just what you'd expect. The doc extends the Madonna myth by showing us proof that our heroine is fighting the good fight. All her foppishness is informed by something artistic, something socially compelling. And still, she never makes you feel like you are just too shallow. That's part of the revolutionary spirit of the film. By encouraging all kinds of abberent, rebellious, shocking and mischevious behavior, she is opening a window in a world of conformity and oppression. She turns her head and winks at you. The reason she is a gay icon is because she gave gay men their power back.

So, if I'm gay, why don't I say, "she gave me my power back"? I didn't need Madonna. Of course, nowadays its fun to go back and visit a particular period in not only the pop continuum but in Madonna's life and the life of those she surrounded herself with at the time. You know that all those young, cute guys are way beyond the gay dating death of turning 30 and they are bitter old alchoholic queens stuffing themselves into one size too small jeans and hanging out in West Hollywood clinging to the one moment of glory that was handed to them by somebody else. Although can you imagine? Getting into Madonna's tour as a performer was a career making coup.

While its not [b]Help![/b], it is an important document of Americana, Madonna-ana, Gay-ana and Pop-ana. We learned just how hard it is to sustain the spiritual, emotional and physical fortitude to put on an international tour, be press-ready and still keep all your friends happy. Truth Or Dare is selling us the fantasy, but it is one we want to buy. I still mindlessly reach for the tabloid if there is a picture of Madonna on the cover just because some public figures are so mythic, so enormous, keeping up them is an interesting study of time, taste and temperment and ultimately indulges my gross and perhaps morbid fascination not with the famous, but fame and our spectacle mad society.

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