After 50 years, over a dozen albums, at least two accents, and who knows how many yards of red string, Madonna is still still trying to find herself. At least, that's the line that she sold to Vanity Fair and that they're running with:
As she nears 50, Madonna's narrative is shifting. Yes, there's another new super-pop album, Hard Candy, with Justin Timberlake and Pharrell Williams. But there's also Filth And Wisdom, the feature film she's co-written, produced, and directed, and I Am Because We Are, her documentary on Malawi, the aids-ravaged country where she controversially adopted her third child. Whisked to L.A. for an intense prep session, followed by an almost two-hour interview, the author explores the evolution of the Madonna myth as she harnesses her image-making genius to a cause, a philosophy, and the search for her true self.
First off, the "Madonna's narrative is shifting" is the longest running narrative in pop history. In fact, Madonna tries new things with her image so often that at this point it would only be notable if she stuck with something for 10 years. Like, say, if she decided one day that her new image would be "Doctor/Pop Star" and she studied for the MCAT, got into medical school, and worked toward becoming a dermatologist. That would be interesting. The Madonna-is-trying-something-new-with-her-image story just isn't anymore.
Secondly, I think Madonna knows exactly who Madonna's "true self" is: shrewd pop icon who invariably knows how to get magazine writers to comment on her "image-making genius." Either that, or she sees herself as some kind of leotarded faux-aristocrat who is the only person who truly understands the world.
But if 50-year-old Madonna is really still trying to find herself, here are a few places where she should look:
1. Semester Abroad In Costa Rica. Is it too late for Madonna to do this? Probably. But seriously, guys. You don't know who you really are until you're living like a native who goes exclusively to ex-pat bars and only hangs out with American students in a foreign land.
2. On stage singing "Don't Stop Believin'" At Karaoke. Singing this song while drunk at a bar is like digging a tunnel directly to your true soul (as envisioned by Steve Perry).
3. In a Thai prison with your best girlfriend. That's how those girls in Brokedown Palace found their inner strength. And, really, a few decades sleeping on a centimeter-thin straw mat on a trumped up drug trafficking charge is a small price to pay for finding out what a resilient person you are inside.
4. Outward Bound. Who are you? You're a person who went on a three-day, white-water-rafting-as-an-extended-metaphor-for-life trip with a group of at-risk youth, that's who.
5. Dropping Out Of Law School. This is the fast track to finding yourself. Is your true self a lawyer? You'll never really find out unless you go to law school, and drop out. One more self scratched off the list.