Monday, November 14, 2005

Blonde Ambition

I am nothing if not loyal. It's a Virgo thing, I think.

Those of you who know me well, in fact those of you who know me at all, will already know that I have a healthy (and I'll explain why it is in a moment) obsession with blonde, female pop stars. This obsession is nothing new, in fact, I can trace it's humble beginnings way, way back to a school yard rumble when I was only 8-years-old.

There were two tire swings in my school yard. One that the girls played on, the other for the boys. The gender division was self-imposed and many of my first stumbling, feminist arguments began right there on those squeaky rubber swings. Who could swing the highest? Who could jump the farthest? How many girls could fit on one swing versus how many boys?

My favourite yelling match by far, still remains imprinted in my mind and in my ears. I can hear the high pitched kiddie voices yelling, feel the hot autumn sun on my face and remember the rush of frustration when the boys could yell louder and wouldn't back down no matter how hard I tried. The topic? Who was cooler: Michael Jackson or Madonna.

We fought all recess long. We yelled and sang, the whole while floating back and forth on those big rubber swings. The bell rang and we were forced to give up, although the debate was far from over. It didn't matter to me because in my mind, there was no question. Madonna ruled. I loved her. The boys were wrong.

It's not that I didn't like MJ. I really did. Lord knows it was his year to shine. There was just something about Madonna. Something about "Borderline" and "Lucky Star" and "Holiday," yes, I loved her music passionately from the start. But more that that, there was something about her. She was bold, she was brave, she was beautiful. And she was blond. I didn't realize it at that early age, but she would become a strong role model and a powerful influence for me as I morphed from child to teen to woman.

It could be that she arrived on the scene, and into my tiny world, at the exact same time that I was a) realizing what a powerful force music could be and b) creating an identity for myself other than just the quiet, shy kid who loved school, animals and my mom. I remember listening to music and absorbing it voraciously. Prince, Willie Nelson, Toto, Duran Duran and of course, Michael. A lot of Michael.

My mom, my sister and I would put on records and dance for hours in the living room. It was a feeling of freedom, of excitement and of pure joy.

There were other female artists that I fell in love with that year. Tina Turner, Pat Benetar, Chaka Khan and who could forget Cindi Lauper? I can't pin point why I didn't latch on to one of those artists, it's probably a good thing since none has had the staying power that Madonna has had, but in all honesty, to this day,
I believe it's because she was blonde. And I was blonde. And I was eight. And at that age, simply having the same coloured hair was reason enough.

But, hair colour aside, Madonna was always different. Right from the start I didn't just want to listen to her, I wanted to be her. There are many people who will argue that she was not the best role model for a young girl to adopt. I see why. I'm not blind to those arguments. But I do disagree. Long before I understood what it meant to be independent, strong, powerful and confident, I saw those traits in Madonna. As I grew older and heard people talk badly about her (she can't sing, she's too provocative, she's a whore, she's just using her body to get famous, she only cares about material things, she's too sexy, she's not sexy enough, she's blasphemous, she's the devil, she's a joke) I was always quick to defend. To me then, and to me now, she was and is brilliant.

There have been many blonde pop stars that I've supported and followed through out the years. All of which I feel a fondness for and all of which I've routed for and defended, even when I know the majority of popular criticisms against them are in many ways true. Dolly Parton, Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson are a small sample of the blondes I love to love. Not always because of their talent, or their brains or their contributions to society. I am fully aware that they are not all contributing a whole heap to the women's movement, or to music, or in some cases to anything at all. None of them compare to Madonna. But all of them, in their own way, are using what they've got to achieve success. To reach the top of whatever game they happen to have chosen. And so, I route for them, quietly or loudly depending on the moment.

Tomorrow marks the release of what I think is Madonna's 17th full album. I have each one and still listen to them today. I will, of course, pick up the latest, Confessions on a Dance Floor, and I suspect that I'll love it just as much as all the rest. Even though she's become a little freaky with the Kabbalah-talk and the British accent, she brings me joy, plain and simple.

Because of her I won't go for second best, I know that beauty is where you find it, I express myself and take some time to celebrate. Madonna allows me to turn it up, let loose and celebrate my blondeness.

What more can I say? I'm hung up.

No comments: