“And as for ‘art,’ well, philosophers differ. But it's widely believed by wise people that art and ego sit uncomfortably together.” Joseph Sobran, The National Review, 1991.
Just when Madonna, the performer one critic recently referred to as a “schlockmistress,” seemed doomed to a future as the subject of scholarly articles on pop and post-modern aesthetics, she's in the news again with a coffee table best seller on the joys of sex with anything that moves and some things that don't. Madonna, the high priestess of American pop culture, has constructed a multi-million dollar performance empire, the success of which rests primarily on her extraordinary ability to behave outrageously and market it. Though pre-pubescent females are Madonna's most ardent and uncritical admirers, her concerts and films attract a heterogeneous crowd of men, women, gays, and straights–most of them under thirty. In spite of (or perhaps because of) her immense popular following, the press loathes her. Mainstream critics deplore her dissipated lifestyle, sexual athletics, and public exhibitionism, while avant-garde critics regard her performances as trendy schlock rather than legitimate art. This has little effect on Madonna except to increase curiosity about her (and therefore sales of the book and videotapes) among ordinary citizens who might otherwise be completely indifferent to the Madonna phenomenon.