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Madonna Interview : Genre Magazine

Christopher: It wasn’t so much that. It was the why. Why it started. First the something, then the vessel…?

Madonna: Because the creator – if you believe there is a larger energy force out there, whatever you want to call it – light, the creator, God, he, she, it – wanted to share, wanted to give something to something, and created. The whole Adam and Eve story is a metaphor essentially, but it’s all based on the concept of earning things and bread of shame. You know what bread of shame is, right? Bread of shame is when you have everything and you haven’t earned it. It’s like when you spoil a kid. You give them everything and they short circuit. It just brings chaos into your life, because you haven’t earned any of it. That goes for everybody. Whenever you get something and you haven’t earned it, it will work against you. So the idea is that the creator created us as vessels, that we would work at filling up our vessel, that we would earn the things we had in the first place. And that’s the metaphor of the story of the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve started off with everything, and then they ate from the tree of knowledge – good and bad – and [she is interrupted by children] okay, I’m doing an interview, so you go over there – now! Anyway…

Christopher: Has the Kabbalah affected your work?

Madonna: Oh my God, yeah. Totally. It affects the choices I make as well.

Christopher: Your choices are significantly different now than what they would have been before Kabbalah?

Madonna: Yes, because, I was sort of moving in this direction anyway, but it’s kind of like, you know, I never want to do anything anymore just for the sake of doing it. That doesn’t mean I don’t do frivolous things. I like to shop for a nice pair of shoes, you know? But in terms of work I’m much more conscious about what it’s about, what message it’s sending out into the universe. Is there light involved in the work that I’m doing, and is there any way for me to – like if somebody offers me some incredible job, that I could make a lot of money from…

Christopher: You mean, like, in a film…

Madonna: Yeah. At first I’ll think about the part itself. What’s the message of the movie? If it’s just exploitation or violence for the sake of violence then I’m not going to be interested in it, especially because it takes so much time. I’m not interested in putting so much of my energy into something that doesn’t have something to do with the big picture. What is the big picture? What we talked about the other night. Sharing, going outside of your comfort zone, restricting yourself… all of those things. If I can’t embody or make an attempt to embody those things in my work or even on a purely financial level… the whole thing is about asking for more. The Kabbalistic principles are not about giving up everything and living this monastic existence. You ask for everything, but you ask for everything in order to share. So, if that could be anything for me, like writing a song, which I did for the Bond movie [Die Another Day]. The song I wrote for the Bond film is about destroying your ego, and it’s juxtaposing the metaphor of, you know, and it’s juxtaposing the metaphor of, you know, the fight against good and bad, and it’s set inside the whole universe of Bond. James Bond is in prison and he gets out of prison. Like all Bond films, somebody’s chasing him or he’s chasing somebody and it’s always a fight against good and evil. I wanted to take it to another level. It’s kind of a metaphor of… I’m fighting myself.

Madonna: Anyway, I got sidetracked, but how Kabbalah influences my work is that it influences it in an obvious way – in terms of a story I’m trying to tell or a message I’m trying to put out there. Or, if I succeed in the physical world – like making tons of cash – then I would share that with various charitable organizations, so, when I say share there are a lot of different ways to share. Guy and I wrote five short children’s stories which were all based on stories that we learned from the Kabbalah, but they’re for children. I don’t know when they’re going to be published. We’re trying to find a publishing company right now to distribute them. All the money that comes from that will go back into the Kabbalah centers, any Kabbalah centers.

Christopher: And the stories are…?

Madonna: Good stories. They’re about everything from evil tongue and gossip to having certainty that even bad things that happen to you are good things. But they’re told in a way that a child can understand. I try them a lot on Lola, by the way, and when they don’t work she says, “What’s that? I don’t get that. That doesn’t make an sense.” So I go and I change them. She’s my guinea pig. Anyway, so we’re looking for illustrators right now. And that’s a partial answer as to how the Kabbalah has affected my work.

Christopher: I’m curious about how it has to do with the new film you just did? Why Swept Away? Why choose it? That movie itself is… intense… on its own.

Madonna: You could call it an angry love story, but Guy put it very poetically. He said it’s a movie about getting what you need, not what you want. It starts out with this spoiled horrible rich woman who has everything that a person could want in the material world. She’s got a rich husband, she has designer clothes, diamond rings, she goes on beautiful vacations on yachts, and from the outside, you think, wow, she’s got it all, right? There are a lot of people who would be envious of that life. Maybe not you and I, but there are a lot of people who aspire to that, right?

Christopher: Well, of course. That’s the aim for most.

Madonna: Exactly. So she has everything she wants, but she’s not happy. Why isn’t she happy? Well, because she’s living life on a purely physical realm, she’s just living in a material world. I don’t believe she’s in a marriage that’s truly based on love, so she’s unhappy. She takes out that unhappiness on all the people that work on her yacht by humiliating them all and trying to make it very clear that she’s in charge, that she knows everything. She picks on one guy in particular who doesn’t have any of the material things, but he’s a decent soul, he has a simple life, and he appreciates nature. So as fate would have it…

Christopher: This is the main guy – they end up alone… together?

Madonna: Yes she ends up on an island with him because of her selfish, petulant behavior. When she wakes up it’s six o’clock. She’s like, “Where is everybody? Why did everybody leave me?” And he says, “I know why everybody left you.” He’s always muttering things under his breath, like “Because you’re such a bitch and nobody can stand you.” Anyways, she says, “Well I want to go out and meet them.” He says “No, Madame, I don’t suggest you do such a thing – the tide’s coming up, the wind is changing, it could be a disaster.” She insists that he take the dinghy down off the yacht, because everyone else traveling with her has left to go to a cove to go swimming.

Christopher: But she makes him take her anyway, right?

Madonna: Yeah, she’s like, “I make the decisions around here, so you can get the dingy down and you can take me where I want you to take me. You work for me. Okay?” And that’s their relationship. It’s very antagonistic and he wants to kill her for the first half hour of the movie, along with probably everyone in the audience. So they end up on the desert island and he does this trip around the island and he says, “Guess what? It’s deserted.” When she first gets on the island, she tells him, “You’re in so much trouble.” Because they get stuck out on the sea, there’s a storm, their boat is capsized so they’ve been out for 48 hours. She’s sunburned, she doesn’t have her things. She’s flipped out, and they land deserted on the island and she repeats, “You’re in so much trouble. I’m going to call my lawyers, I’m going to sue the company you work for.” So he looks around the island and he says, “Well, you can call the sand police because there’s nobody else here but you and me.” And she refuses to believe it, so he says, “Well, suit yourself, you think there’s somebody else on the island? Go find them.” Anyway, he sets about figuring out a way to survive on this island. He’s a fisherman, so he fashions all these things to catch fish and builds a little shelter for himself. Meanwhile, she’s tromping around the island trying to find somebody, cutting her feet on everything and getting sunburned and cursing the world. Long story short, everything changes, because she tries to dominate him and he’s like, “No, the rules of the game are changed. Now I’m in charge.” And she’s like “Fuck you.” Anyways, she’s so disgustingly disrespectful to him he ends up slapping her and telling her, “You must call me master.” And so the whole thing changes. In a sense, he has to break her. And in the process she has to go get water, she has to go catch fish, and do this, that, and the other, and suddenly she learns how to take care of herself. By the way, she’s miserable doing it, but she wants to eat. And because she starts learning how to look after herself she becomes more of a human being, and as a result he starts finding her more attractive, and they end up falling in love with each other.

Christopher: I recall the original being quite violent and not terribly redeeming.

Madonna: Well, hopefully we’ve changed that because I think in the original their sexual attraction was sort of based on animal lust, and it was kind of that thing that comes from violence sometimes.

Christopher: It was very dark.

Madonna: Yeah, this version is not as dark. She actually learns how to do things. She actually does stuff, and I think that he falls for her. He sees her charm. She changes – she has a sense of humor. There’s a night they find a bottle of booze and get very drunk and play charades and it’s complete insanity. It’s very funny.