Interview: Madonna – The Last American Hero
She ditches TV, makes a sit-com appearance, and explains both female rage and her love of costumes. Madonna has been an agent provocateur for nearly two decades, and she’s still
Her anti-Bush, pro-cellulite, grenade-happy video for “American Life” has had lots of tongues wagging of late. Not bad for clip tahat was squashed before it ever received any mainstream play. But now the new American Life album has arrived, and longtime fans can get all the no-holds-barred action they need. Madonna says the hi-techno/folk guitar extravaganza depicts her journey from ’80s Boy Toy to chilled Kabbalah student. It’s been a long, strange trip – the new cover art positions her as a Che Guevara of the heart – and it’s not over yet. Who thought we’d see the day when the arch-media manipulator would decry the shallowness of American Idol?
Maddy’s much buzzed-about guest spot on Will & Grace put her in cahoots with the sitcom’s star, Megan Mullally. In an exclusive VH1 interview, the prime-time actress gets her subject to spill the beans on the ideas driving the “American Life” video, her creative process, what she’s learned from her kids, and why it’s now cool to let flab speak for itself.
Megan Mullally: I just saw the original video for “American Life” and I think it’s genius. Tell me about it.
Madonna: Did you have a strange reaction to it?
Mullally: It was very powerful. It is what it is. I think it’s art and that
People need to take it at face value and let it work on them.
Madonna: I had a certain intention when we started shooting the video. Then when we started editing it, I started seeing other things take shape – other stories and ideas and themes emerging – which I had no intention of doing. But that’s part of the creative process. I
feel like I’ve mixed up a lot of ideas into one big stew. It does the video a disservice to try and explain exactly what it means.
Mullally: It’s very powerful, like the video for “What It Feels Like a Girl”
Madonna: They’re both about female rage.
Mullally: It’s very feminist. I love your dancers They’re like real women!
Madonna: They’re voluptuous, strong girls who can really dance. That was one of the taboos I wanted to explore. The women you see in videos are always stick figures. It’s such a taboo to have women with rolls of flesh on them, but to me, they’re so beautiful and strong. When you sit down you have a fat roll even if you’re not fat. My six-year-old daughter has a fat roll.
I feel very consoled by that. It’s cool.
Mullally: Where were you were coming from when you were putting the album together?
Madonna: “American Life” describes my state of mind when I was writing the album. I looked back at the last 20 years and realized that a lot of things I had valued weren’t important. I’ve also realized that the American dream – the idea that you can start with nothing and make so much with your life – may start out with a very pure intention, but you can get sidetracked along the way with all these things dangled in front of you: more money, more fame, more this, more that. Your priorities get very mixed up. You start to value the wrong things. The only thing that’s really going to make you happy is the state of your soul, the way that you treat people, the love that you have in your heart. I know that sounds really corny, but it’s the truth. That’s what “American Life” is about and essentially the entire record is that journey that I go on.