Open Apology To Madonna. (GLEE Is Mentioned In This Article)

Madonna,

I don’t like you.

Wait. The tone generally improves from here on.

You have to try and consider things from my perspective. When I was in High School, every other song on the radio was one of yours, girls in class were wearing lace gloves and coming up to me asking if I’d seen Susan. I didn’t really care for your songs, and time wasn’t really helping anything on that score. Vogue? What kind of dumbass song is that?

The whole tween, then teen, then young adult nightmare I was living through featured you as the unending soundtrack that fueled every dim-witted, even marginally self-defeated girl in a quest toward odd behavior for the sake of odd behavior.

Really, just wait.

See, I didn’t know how bad it could be for one thing. There was no Britney, or worse, people so clueless they sing about Britney (and Jay-Z, and then publicly admit to not knowing any of his songs). All I knew (or thought I knew) was that I had to see your damn face multiple times a day, and hear music that seemed manufactured by marketing executives to appeal to the lowest common IQ, with lyrics that were at best insulting and at worst mindless repetition.

Anyway.

I didn’t realize that along with inciting young girls to dress like mental patients and dance like drunk monkeys you were also inspiring them to tell guys to kiss off when otherwise they… well, might not have. I mean, I figured it was just me. This might not have been quite as effective as possible, what with many songs working at cross purposes, but still. I’m a father now, looking at things from outside the situation, and if you moved people toward Joan Jett’s side of the spectrum, and away from Jessica Simpson’s, more power to you.

I also didn’t realize that you would one day be responsible (to one degree or another) for the most fun I’ve ever had watching television.

GLEE is returning, and though fans are going to have to make it past a bit of a stumble on April 13th with “Hell-O”, the follow-up compensation on April 20th, “The Power of Madonna,” is the best thing they’ve ever had the good fortune to witness.

“Hell-O” suffers from overly focusing on its “reset,” establishing Sue’s return, rendering the value of our work toward Sectionals moot (else what grand struggle is left), and throwing wrenches at our love connections (because if people are together, we can’t hope that they’ll get together), but not so great GLEE is still GLEE, and thus better than most things.

But, “The Power of Madonna,” even taking into account the contractual obligation to say all kinds of great things about you in exchange for using your songs (fair enough really), is more than mere television, it’s a life event. Much as I sit here now, able to reflect on how large parts of who I am have things like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off sticky notes on them, so too will people look back on where they were when they watched this episode of GLEE. We are about to test the limits of DVR abilities, and question whether or not something can be played back infinitely without errors. People will not only buy the DVD release, they will buy back-ups. April 20th will become a holiday for thousands.

Even the plot dynamics, overblown as the show’s declaration of your “power” may be, actually owe much to at least the perception of your message (whether there is any such message or not). Even if the nay-sayers attribute any positive portrayal of a calling and/or thematic delivery to accident and wishful thinking, it doesn’t change the fact that it exists. I may have been on the wrong side of that fence for decades, overly focusing on whether or not the young had any legitimate basis for drawing certain conclusions from you and your work, and ignoring the undeniably positive result that they were drawing, and acting on, those conclusions, legitimately or not.

Thus, when we see Rachel and Emma (and even Sue) looking at how they are living their lives, struggling ┬áto create, accept, and embody some sense of empowerment, some self-worth that becomes who they are, and we see them doing so, basically, because you exist… well, you have to take your hat off to that, and leave off questioning if it is particularly rational that they got there from you, and just appreciate that they got there.

This… was written by someone who has disliked you for decades. What will fans say?

I still don’t like your music, and my best guess is that I wouldn’t actually like you very much either. But, I’m glad you exist.

When my wife gets around to subjecting my daughter to your music… I’ll probably let her.

That’s a joke. You see what I did there, with the whole empowerment thing?

Seriously though.

Thanks.

Marc Eastman

Are You Screening?

Marc Eastman
Marc Eastman is the owner and operator of Are You Screening? and has been writing film reviews for over a decade, and several branches of the internet's film review world have seen his name. He is also a member of The Broadcast Film Critics Association and The Broadcast Television Journalists Association.

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