Jockeying for a top slot on the Fox News Outrage Hour, Madonna crucified herself in L.A. yesterday. It probably wasn’t the only crucifixion in L.A. this weekend, but it certainly grabbed the most headlines. The stunt was the centerpiece of a performance that was, by most accounts, very athletic and satisfying, featuring strong vocals and dance by The Great Blasphemadge. (I’m tired of "The Material Mom" and its cognates.) Oh yeah, and there were video images of BushandBlair juxtaposed with Osama and Hitler and (to prove she reads The New Yorker) Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. (What, no Kim Jong Il? After he was nice enough to immolate all the Pyongyang critics who hated Swept Away?)
So… big weekend for the culture wars, huh? Da Vinci makes its preordained mint; The Passion of the Madonna makes waves… If you subscribe to specious dichotomies, then it looks like this round goes to the degenerate secular humanists, while the God-ocracy smolders and regroups. But the real winners here are bloggers and cable news commentators. Imagine all the yapping this will generate! Unless, of course, it doesn’t. Tom Hanks in a wan religious thriller and Madonna, the Western world’s senior provocatrix, executing vaguely yogic anti-establishment monkeyshines on a plastic cross really doesn’t consitutute much of a firestorm.
Which is why I propose we design our own controversy, a real corker. Personally, I’d like to see Jack Bauer buttonhole God for his part in the Sentox gas terror plot on tonight’s 24. President, schmesident — Jack should go right to the top of this thing and shake down the big man himself. ("You have 10 seconds to explain the human condition in the moral vacuum of an apparently meaningless universe… 10! 9!") Yeah, that’d light up the boards, from Falwell to Franken.
Seriously, though: Does Madonna still retain the power to shock? Is that even what we want from her anymore? And what could she possibly do at this point that would really shock you? Take communion? Move to Omaha? Patch things up with Sean Penn?