Wednesday, October 25, 2006

There has to be a clever Madonna song title reference here...

By Heraclitus

...but I just can't think of it. I recently wrote a post suggesting that white celebrities just forego mentioning Africa altogether (I'd even be in favor of passing a law requiring it, since I hate free speech). Madonna figured prominently in that post, for her attempts to adopt a baby boy from Malawi. Well, now Madonna is back from Africa, and going on the offensive (and on Oprah, no less). She is not only trumpeting her aristocratic virtue in being moved by the suffering of children, but...well, what do you think is the most offensive thing she could do? What bit of rhetorical over-reaching would you find most absurdly distasteful? If you said "casting herself as a victim," you win. If you said "casting the criticisms of her as morally wrong," you also win. Madonna is not only the victim here, but criticism of her consumerist approach to alleviating poverty in Africa will also discourage others from adopting children as she did. Apparently, she still doesn't understand why people are less than admiring of her ploy of going to Africa and carrying off someone else's child as a symbol of her moral goodness, a pendant to pin to her chest to remind the world of how noble she is.

To be fair to Madonna, I haven't read all of her comments, nor do I plan to. Nor do I plan to elaborate any criticisms of her beyond the snarky and skeletal jibes deployed above. To be fair, she apparently does fund several orphanages in Malawi, and is currently setting up an orphanage for 4,000 children outside the capital. Still, when you read her statement that she first saw the boy in a documentary about Malawian orphans she is financing, and that she became "transfixed" by him, you can't help but hear echos of the way others may describe a handbag, or perhaps the way Alan Alda's character describes his attraction to Mia Farrow in Crimes and Misdemeanors.

And if I wanted to engage in some bashing of liberalism here (for which I'm simply too exhausted), I'm sure there are many interesting and enlightening comparisons to be made between Madonna's words and actions here and Ivan Karamazov's comments on the suffering of children.

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