I guess this is what happens when Madonna isn’t invited to sing Imagine with a bunch of other celebrities. Yesterday she released her own video of thoughts about the virus and, no kidding, her big takeaway is that there’s something almost admirable about coronavirus.
“That’s the thing about Covid-19,” Madonna says in the video posted to Instagram Sunday, “it doesn’t care about how rich you are, how famous you are, how funny you are, how smart you are, where you live, how old you are, what amazing stories you can tell.”
“It’s the great equalizer and what’s terrible about it is what’s great about it,” she added. “What’s terrible about it is that it’s has made us all equal in many ways and what’s wonderful about it is that it’s made us all equal in many ways … Like I used to say at the end of ‘Human Nature’ every night, we are all in the same boat. And if the ship goes down, we’re all going down together.”
The first thing that’s weird about this is something you might not notice right away. This video isn’t shot by Madonna holding her phone up in front of herself. And the camera isn’t propped up on a tripod either, it’s moving. Someone is in there filming this. So clearly Madonna is not social distancing, even in her bathtub.
Also, did you notice the piano soundtrack of slightly disturbing music? I’m guessing she added that later which just emphasizes that this is a carefully crafted product. It makes me wonder how many takes of this she did before she got it right.
Of course she’s not wrong about coronavirus being indiscriminate, but what is the point of saying so from a marble bathtub full of rose petals next to faucets that look like they were hand-polished by an entire team of domestic workers? She’s clearly flaunting her wealth even as she says it doesn’t matter.
Maybe there is a certain poignancy to this if you look at it biographically. Madonna got her start as the “Material Girl” in the mid-1980s. Her brand was to shock and titillate. She was very self-consciously looking to cash in on her sex appeal. And it worked. She became very rich and very famous and eventually moved away from that early image and became religious after a fashion. But this end-of-all-things video makes her out to be a rich woman who, having left the real world far behind suddenly finds herself as vulnerable as everyone else. And she sort of enjoys that feeling once again. There’s an implied story here about fame as a kind of self-isolation. I’m not saying it’s the “Rosebud” moment from Citizen Kane, but there’s something there that might be interesting.
The problem is that, whatever coronavirus means to Madonna, she really doesn’t face the same risks as everyone else. Yes, she could get infected but you can bet she’s not risking her health to squabble over toilet paper at the bodega down the street. She has people for that. And if she wants Chinese food, she doesn’t have to deal with takeout or delivery, she probably has a chef or, at a minimum, a well-stocked kitchen.
Honestly, what would have been far more interesting to me than this weird clip would be Madonna describing in detail how she has responded to the coronavirus in her own home. What is the current number of staff? Has she reduced hours? Has she told everyone (except the cameraperson) to stay home? Is she paying them while they stay away? Who is doing her shopping? Who is preparing the rose petals for her bath? Do the people still working in the house wear gloves and masks?
The real story is probably a lot more interesting than the Sunset Blvd. moment she was going for here. If she wanted to actually be revealing about her life she could have done that without getting naked in the bathtub. Here’s the clip:
— Madonna (@Madonna) March 22, 2020