Question for you: Is Madonna too old to be Madonna anymore?
Monday morning I popped online first thing to pull up Madonna’s performance from the Grammy’s. I’m one of those people who likes to watch things on my own time but was eager to see my favourite performer sing her wicked new single, Living For Love.
I should have searched YouTube instead of Google, but hadn’t had my coffee yet, and so instead of video options, up popped the top stories on the Queen Of Pop’s award show performance.
The headline of the most-read story – by the UK’s Daily Mail – went like this: “Madonna, 56, takes to the Grammys stage for yet another cringeworthy performance as she simulates sex with her male dancers.”
The story itself then went on to posit “as Madonna approaches her sixties, one wonders if perhaps it is time she decides to grow old gracefully.”
I actually can’t find a better example of someone growing old gracefully than Madonna. She’s more fit than I’ll ever be, moves with the energy of someone in their twenties, and continues to live her life as she chooses, ignoring all the naysayers like the writer at the Daily Mail, who, sadly as far as I’m concerned, was a woman.
I feel like ageism is one of the last frontiers we have to still conquer in modern society; the negative attitude about the number attached to each of us is anything but modern. Sexist too: Why is it that The Rolling Stones or Paul McCartney – all of whom actually look “this close” to retirement home escapees – are worshipped and idolized; Mick Jagger keeps thrusting those hips onstage and I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone suggest it’s cringeworthy.
As Madonna herself has sung: “Do you know what it feels like for a girl?”. For some reason, women are supposed to shut themselves down and hide after a certain age and I find it absolutely appalling that such old school notions still prevail. Why isn’t she applauded for continuing to break barriers as she has done all her career?
A couple of days ago I was in deep conversation with a friend of mine who turns 50 this year. He has lived a life that has included experiences beyond challenging. Stepping into his own and feeling happier than he has in years, he is now beyond excited to reach 50 and begin living the rest of his life having laid claim to the fullness of who he really is.
At 46, I find this inspiring, like I find Madonna inspiring. I also know the feeling of “Now I’m My Best Self”; for me it was also a hard-won place to reach. I love where I am right now, and I eagerly anticipate what is in store for me now that I know who I am, now that I live a life of my own design, the happiest guy I know.
According to the likes of Daily Mail writers though – and so many other detractors, as we all know – Madonna, my friend and myself (and possibly you as well) should all be eyeballing hiding out from living well and by our own rules, leaving that up to – what? people under 35?
Sadly that was once the case, wasn’t it. I myself remember calling anyone over 40 old. But thanks to people like Madonna, 56, sexy, fun, flying high (literally, she was dangling from the rafters in her Grammy performance last night), the playbook for all of us has changed.
At least those of us who choose not to listen to people stuck in a time and place I don’t ever want to visit.