Wednesday, January 25, 2006

cowmadonna, cowgays, and cowpresidents

so way back in 2000, Madonna releases this album that has this cowboy theme. and its, like, so gay, as is everything that Madonna does. and for me, the theme came out of no where. unlike the geisha thing: totally makes sense for Madonna, even in its colonizing gesture (is it post-modern or is it colonizing? when is imitation flattery and when is it, well, fucked up) -- she's totally into the Asian thing, and seems to be all spiritual about it, but still does ads for sweatshop GAP, where craploads of women Asian women are forced to work. (i do have a hard time remembering that she is still a mainstream business woman superstar personality and, yes, not everything she does will be feminist.)

so, that's madonna; progressive sometimes, often not, but ALWAYS mainstream. but what's with the cowboys. the in the urban ghetto rural videos. beefcake cowboys in front of the the video for "Don't Tell Me" (which is, incidentally my favorite on the album). flash forward to 2006, and there's that gay cowboy movie. that's "Brokeback Moutain;" progressive sometimes, often not, but ALWAYS mainstream. here's thought number one for the day: what use, The Mainstream, for us activists and advocates and public intellectuals?
but in the meantime, for those of you that have seen the film, check out these Madonna lyrics. If you could watch the video too at http://www.madonna.com/spin/album/Music/Dont_Tell_Me/, that would be even better, but .....

Don't Tell Me

Words and Music by Madonna Ciccone and Mirwais Ahmadzarsquo and Joe Henry

Don't tell me to stop
Tell the rain not to drop
Tell the wind not to blow '
Cause you said so, mmm
Tell the sun not to shine
Not to get up this time, no, no
Let it fall by the way
But don't leave me where I lay down

Chorus:
Tell me love isn't true
It's just something that we do
Tell me everything I'm not
(first time:) But please don't tell me to stop
(all other times:) But don't ever tell me to stop

Tell the leaves not to turn
But don't ever tell me I'll learn, no, no
Take the black off a crow
But don't tell me I have to go
Tell the bed not to lay L
ike the open mouth of a grave, yeah
Not to stare up at me
Like a calf down on its knees
(chorus)


(chorus, prefixing 1st and 3rd lines with "Don't you ever")

[Don't you ever]
Please don't
Please don't
Please don't tell me to stop

[Don't you ever]
Don't you ever
Don't ever tell me to stop
[Tell the rain not to drop]


Tell the bed not to lay
Like a open mouth of a grave, yeah
Not to stare up at me
Like a calf down on its knees

how about that shit? how about that chorus!?! Tell the leaves not to turn/But don't ever tell me I'll learn, no, no/Take the black off a crow/But don't tell me I have to go !?! Like a calf down on its knees!!! beauitful!

so, i guess what i want to think about #2 is this: why this return to the cowboy as a trope: the president, the mainstream music, the mainstream film? what does it mean for gender and/or sexuality when we begin the the 21st century with the iconic cowboy in our white house, on our radio and TV, and in our movietheaters? what exists at this matrix of masculinity, american imperialism, homoeroticism in all male cultures, and masochism?

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