We Watched And Analyzed The “Bitch I’m Madonna” Music Video
This morning, TIDAL debuted Madonna’s latest music video, “Bitch I’m Madonna.” Now, none of us here at the Frisky is a TIDAL subscriber per se. Instead, we watched an illicit, grainy leak of the video on YouTube (which, of course, was pulled down minutes later). Having watched and ruminated, we here at the Frisky found ourselves with diverging opinions.
Jenn is usually on Madonna’s side, for better or worse. Sure, Madonna’s kind of annoying, always has been, but at this stage in the game, Jenn figures, Madonna has earned the right to be mouthy and defensive. Besides, Madonna is fun!
Megan, however, is not exactly a fan.
From the opposite sides of the pop-culture aisle, we put our heads together to debate the merits — and failings — of “Bitch I’m Madonna.”
JENN: I’ll admit, my initial reactions to this video were surprise and delight. I was tickled. Tickled pink. What I’m saying is, this video is very pink. Shocking pink. And why not. Pink is the color of youthful femininity! Who says you have to shelve youthful femininity just because you’re a mom.
MEGAN: Sure. Madonna! Do you. Go pink or go home, isn’t that the old saying? I’m all for Madonna still making music and singing songs and slinging her ropy arms wherever she wants, but this video feels too much like a calculated grab at relevancy to be something that I’d enjoy watching. Also, the song is not that interesting to me, despite the Nicki guest verse, which proves that even the power of Nicki can’t save everything.
JENN: I actually kind of interpreted this video as, not a bid for relevance, necessarily, but as Madonna railing against mainstream ageism. “Of course I rock it! I’m the one who set the bar in the first place! But I couldn’t be a cultural tastemaker without a little help from my friends. Here, I brought you some of my devotees. Have you heard of Beyoncé, by any chance? She’s a fan.” Granted, it occasionally verges on “the gang’s all here!” goofiness, but at least Madonna knows how to throw a party. (Lady Gaga is not invited to the party, obviously.)
MEGAN: My only statement on the “fun” that is happening at this party is that it looks like Beyoncé was only involved because TIDAL is her baby, and I never want to go to a party where Katy Perry is in attendance. One of the few things that Taylor Swift and I have in common is that we both dislike Katy Perry.
JENN: Ouch. Anyway, I will allow that Madonna has been, in the course of her career — like, from the beginning to the present-day — appropriative as hell. Much analysis has already been written about Madonna’s “Vogue” days, which were filched wholesale from the LGBT community’s own vogue culture. But even the most appropriative Madonna performance has some stray element of “remix” that other pretenders-to-the-throne — Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry, or, oh god that one awful Avril Lavigne video, do you remember that? — have consistently lacked.
MEGAN: Peak Madonna was capable of adding some sort of flavor to the baldfaced cultural appropriation of her past, it’s true. Katy Perry and Gwen Stefani just ganked shit willy-nilly and didn’t really think about what they were doing. Madonna, half a point. Maybe five points, because the sun is out and I’m feeling generous. But, remember when Madonna was promoting “Rebel Heart” and she did this? I do!
JENN: Um, yes, now that you mention it.
Aaaand speaking of tone-deaf…! I am really actually kind of thrilled by the moment where Madonna pours a shot down Maroon 5’s throat — admittedly, the leak we watched is a little grainy, but I’m pretty sure that guy is Maroon 5 — because I took it as kind of a diss on Drake?
[Edit: Later in the day, after the video finally made the rounds, we went back to double-check on Maroon 5’s identity. He’s a damned handsome fashion model named Jon Kortajarena.]
JENN: And no, of course Madonna kissing Drake without Drake’s explicit prior permission was not “okay” in the most literal, consensual sense of “okay,” but…! I am going to be controversial here, but when you’re onstage with Madonna, you know the score. Madonna is gonna make you kiss the queen — on the lips, not on the cheek. And Drake pulled away with unadulterated revulsion, as if kissing a woman in her 50s were a fate worse than death. So obviously Madonna’s still ticked at Drake. No one embarrasses Madonna publicly and lives to tell the tale. What I’m saying is, Madonna forcing a shot into Adam Levine’s gullet [edit: someone else’s gullet, I was just going with it] is one of the more offhandedly-disturbing woman-on-man actions I’ve ever seen in a music video, and it made me uncomfortable, but Adam Levine’s [edit: not Adam Levine’s] cartoonish “Huh? Did Madonna just make me do a shot? Who agreed to this??” is hilarious. I love that Adam Levine’s [edit: not Adam Levine’s] macho pride means he agreed to that choreography in advance, “Yeah, that’ll be funny, I’ll look fake-disgusted and shocked.” It’s a really good parody of Drake’s Coachella reaction, and Levine was game for it. I don’t agree with the original surprise-kiss on Drake — boundaries!! yikes! — but this is a well-executed diss.
MEGAN: I don’t even think it was like that. This whole song’s point is “Bitch, I’m Madonna.” Like, girl. We know. We know you’re Madonna and that means controversy and craziness and ~sexuality~ and stuff. Walking into a club and screaming, “Bitch, I’m Madonna” isn’t gonna get you very far, and the whole song seems manufactured not for art’s sake but for hashtagability and clickiness. The song is aural clickbait.
To address the whole Drake situation, I don’t even think it’s that deep. I don’t see Adam Levine [edit: not Adam Levine] as a stand-in for Drake at all. I don’t think that Drake’s revulsion at kissing Madonna had anything to do with her age. Drake, clearly, has that thing where you can’t control whatever the fuck is happening on your face. It’s a scourge. He didn’t expect to have Madonna’s tongue in his throat — even though he should have, I guess — and so what we saw there is literally anybody’s reaction. How should he have reacted?! Have we considered that Drake might not find Madonna attractive not because she’s old, but because, hey, Drake doesn’t think she’s attractive? There are levels to this shit. That sequence isn’t a diss, it’s just Madonna. Bitch, she’s Madonna.
JENN: I mean, she pulls Levine’s [edit: Kortajarena’s] head backward, just like she did to Drake, but instead of kissing him, she pours a shot of liquor into his mouth. I stand by my reading. I think we do agree on one thing, though, and that is Nicki Minaj stealing the show. I love Nicki Minaj so much. She can do no wrong in my eyes. People forget, too, that Nicki Minaj was a victim of music-industry ageism when she was taken to task in 2011 for “lying” about her age. (I actually had very strong opinions on that, and I wrote about it over here.) So there’s that. I really appreciate how much Madonna appreciates collaborators who’ve also courted controversy or otherwise polarized popular opinion. Miley is here. Macklemore (ugh) is here. Kanye’s here for a second. I don’t know if Madonna is deliberately making a statement by aligning herself with these artists, or…? I mean, on some level, it is deliberate, but I don’t know if it’s on a very conscious level. I assume she is calling all these people Rebel Hearts.
MEGAN: Nicki is the best, but she can’t even save this shit. Also, that white man that you thought was Macklemore is actually Diplo. Macklemore, god willing, is not working anymore.
JENN: Oh, crap! Diplo, Macklemore, whatever. I’m 32 and I’m already way too old for this video.
ROBYN: This doesn’t even sort of sound like Madonna.
JENN: I would never say a word against Madonna — mostly because I fear her — but, I hate to say, technically Britney did this song first.
ROBYN: I’m watching [the video] now. I think Madonna’s guest stars mostly outdo Taylor’s. I mean, yeah, Taylor got Mariska — but Madonna got Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj and Chris Rock.
JENN: Why is Chris Rock in this video? I didn’t realize he and Madonna were tight.
ROBYN: Also I like Miley Cyrus now. I’m sorry. I feel as weird about it everyone else must.
JENN: By some horrible logic, is Jerry Seinfeld also a “Rebel Heart”?
MEGAN: I think my only stray observations are: Take a seat, Madonna.