(Photo By Lucy Nicholson / Reuters)
Fresh off of The Golden Globe Awards and followed by a half-time extravaganza at the Super Bowl, the superstar Madonna just announced a third trip to Israel. Prior to this pending hat trick, the last time a Lady Madonna was spotted in Jerusalem, time split with a line marking Before and After. Now, splicing Hollywood and the Holy Land, the modern mega pop icon will start the genesis to her World Tour at Ramat Gan Stadium, kicking off her MDNA album.I know what many are thinking—this Madonna, unlike the other, is not Jewish. But she is real big on kabbalah, an esoteric corner of learning that, like a slice of Levi’s bread, is wide enough that you shouldn’t have to be Jewish to like it.But because she’s not stamped kosher, she’s gotten a lot of flack for dipping into a plate of Jewish mysticism that for some is sacred and not just another new-agey fad. Some rabbis have criticized both her and other celebs’ fascination with the subject, claiming only bona fide students can understand the mysteries. Pouring milk on their meat, she got them kvetching a few years back with her song, "Isaac," which they claim is about the 16th-century kabbalist Yitzhak Luria. She says it ain’t. Say what you will, Madonna’s got chutzpah. And unlike those that have followed ala Lady Gaga and younger protégé, Britney, (who can’t gain any respect these days), Madonna sculpted a lasting figure. While consistently ticking off the religious community, from the time she set foot on the world’s stage, through “Like a Virgin” to presenting herself on the cross in concert, she’s always danced at the edge of the (bad pun coming), borderline. Amazingly, she’s balanced this beam—even stumbled without totally wiping out— consistently remaining in control of her brand, while relentlessly re-inventing it. Her dare became part of her act.
But even while tempting and strutting on that thin borderline, (let’s call it the TMZ line) she’s also created for herself an iconic status that aspires toward the spiritual.
Not to be confused with the mined DMZ line, the TMZ, is a popular website and syndicated half-hour show on Fox. You could say it puts the “oi” in tabloid. It’s the site that publicized Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic tirade, Michael Richards’ onstage meltdown and a few years back, an up-to-the-minute skinny on a chubby O. J.
But while more and more celebrities get engulfed in its Dead Sea effect, unable to survive, Madonna still thrives alive.
The trick is knowing how to dip ones toes in without ever drowning. TMZ and other lurid sites that lurk under the MSM surface cover the strange fascination we have with fantasyland. For example, TMZ’s “about” section reads, “TMZ altered the entertainment news landscape by changing the way the public gets its news.” Apt description since it peddles dirt in mudslide dishes.
But let’s be honest. Since the Juice in the Bronco, how far off has mainstream media been from the same feeding trough? Maybe O.J. was when it all shifted, but that polluted tributary became a contaminated river.
No longer do you have to read tabloids to know Kim Kardashian and Kris are nixed, Jacko’s doc axed him and Mel’s got anger management issues. Their stains are all part of the same MSM wash load now. Madonna just lifted the underwear out, wore them as outerwear, pranced on the catwalk and made ‘em hip.Along the way, she’s rocked the books! “The Guinness Book of Records” lists her as the most successful female recording artist ever; she is the best-selling female rock artist of the 20th century and the most successful solo artist in the history of the Billboard chart.While fame can be nasty, brutish and short, like our people, she’s lasted. And like us, with more branches than a burning bush, stretching in various directions all pointed up, she digs our eretz.
So while the material girl from Michigan may have her feet planted in the mud, she’s also always reached for the stars.
Abe Novick is a writer and communications consultant and can be reached at [email protected]