Later this year will appear Madonna’s first feature film. Desperately Seeking Susan. In it she plays a free-spirited young girl who captivates a middle-class housewife. It sounds like an ideal role for her. The film is directed by Susan Seidelman, who made the well-received Smithereens. Madonna is very keen to do more acting, and indeed shows far more enthusiasm for movies than for pop music. She senses that her special qualities, her child-woman-ness and her honesty, as well as her wit, lend themselves far better to the more nuanccd medium of film than they do to the very direct, plastic medium of pop.
The comparison between Madonna and Marilyn Monroe goes beyond the physical resemblance, and beyond Madonna’s penchant for punctuating her singing with Monroe-esque squeaks, squeals, and gasps. Like Marilyn, Madonna had an unhappy childhood which gave her a bottomless desire for public acceptance, and a conviction that she could only win it with sex appeal. Like Marilyn, Madonna has the intelligence and wit to raise the sex appeal above the level of crass vulgarity (like Marilyn, this requires the right directors).
Madonna, what do you like about Marilyn Monroe?
Her innocence and her sexuality and her humour and her vulnerability.
You have all those qualities. I know.
As Madonna walked silently down the streets of Greenwich Village, decked out like some Christmas tree in nylons, but shrinking with uncertainty under all the glances she gets, and brightening only when she is sure each look is admiring. I was reminded of Dame Edith Sitwell’s description of Marilyn, Monroe: a beautiful ghost.
Like Marilyn. Madonna seems to have allowed the obsessive quest for fame and adulation to blot out her enjoyment of all the lesser pleasures of life. Not only docs she not seem to take much pleasure from music or dancing, she doesn’t even seem to enjoy her boyfriends very much.
I was very surprised, in light of all the gossip now circulating about how Madonna had used her boyfriends ruthlessly in her climb to the top, to find that her past boyfriends all remembered her fondly; while she seems to have found very little worth remembering in any of her relationships. New York is full of rumours that her current relationship with ‘Jellybean’ is on the skids – another likely victim of the goddess fame. Madonna’s hardened case of ambition may carry her to great success, but it risks also crushing the sensitive girl that remains inside.
One of her ex-boyfriends told me:
1 think Madonna’s living out the Monroe myth even more than she suspects. Sex is Madonna’s calling card. She knows she’s a sex symbol, and she uses it in a self-conscious way. to the point where it’s become her only way of communicating. It’s becoming the only way she can feel comfortable and know she’s wanted.
She’s deeply terrified of herself and of being alone with herself. Yet she’s a much more interesting person than she knows, and a much more fragile person than she wants to admit. But I fear for her if she doesn’t change the way she operates.
That sounds not only like a recipe for unhappiness but the best argument that could be made against BoyToyhood as a desirable objective for any girl.
It also sounds, just possibly, like a prescription for a very good actress.
Maripol was with Madonna the night she performed live on national TV at the MTV awards:
When we left, the kids were waiting for Madonna in the street, cheering. As we went into the limo, I was watching her.
She was looking at all the kids, and she was wondering why she was here. She wanted to be there, with them, in the street, yelling at herself. And I looked at her face, and it was pure innocence and pure joy.