Madonna vs Christina

Christina Aguilera, 2010

Madonna, 1995

I was browsing a kinky community forum online and one member posted this Christina Aguilera video. Every time we see a hot woman in a leather catsuit wielding a riding crop in a video or commercial or t.v. show, there’s often a spark of recognition followed by the debate:

Is she’s another poseur ripping off my culture for commercial gain?
Does this mean BDSM is going mainstream?
But I like being apart from the mainstream. I like not being “normal.”
But more exposure means more understanding and less persecution and judgement.

Do I give a shit because the outfits are awesome?

In Madonna’s Human Nature, she sings specifically about sexuality free from shame, so it makes sense. Yeah, it’s not the most subtle of metaphors (boxed in, tied up), but it’s a video not a Ingmar Bergman movie.

Christina’s Not Myself Tonight is a tribute (rip-off) of Madonna’s videos (I counted three, plus a George Michael) with a much bigger styling budget and blatant product placement. It’s another one of those “I’m feeling extra wild and sexy tonight so watch out world!” songs and everyone knows wild and sexy = latex catsuit and a riding crop.

As a black person, I’m pretty well used to the idea of one’s identity being commercialized. Just like black became shorthand for cool, is kink just becoming shorthand for hot?

But kink isn’t just an outfit: it’s culture, identity, politics, community…

But that zipper gag thing and those pointy eyelashes are so rad and she’s sporting a Betony Vernon Petting Ring.

So, who cares. It’s hot.

Right?

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4 thoughts on “Madonna vs Christina

  1. When I first saw the video for Human Nature (when I was 11) I realized then that Madonna was singing about a part of her life; that she actually lived that way and wanted to talk about it. With Not Myself Tonight, it's like Christina is doing it all for "shock value". I mean, I think the video is hot (it's very very hot), but it also feels really overdone and fake; kind of like girls that sleep with girls in college while they're drunk, then marry men because they think it's hot to be a "lesbian until graduation".

  2. The disconnect you mention, Laken, between Human Nature and Not Myself Tonight strikes me as a good example of the zeitgeist shift towards unabashed crass exploitation that we've seen over the last 15 years or so. Another good example is Jill Sobule's I Kissed a Girl vs. Katy Perry's I Kissed a Girl. The 90s were so nice. What happened?

  3. The similarities between Sobule and Perry's songs end at the title. Sobule sings about something many lesbian/bisexual people experience when they kiss a person of the same sex for the first time; it's that light bulb moment "this is real, this is me". While Perry sings about something that really goes on; girls kissing girls because they're drunk and showing off, I hate that it ends up undermining meaningful same-sex relationships by acting like we're all just going through a phase. When I came out to my mom she said, "I guess you kissed a girl and liked her cherry chapstick."

  4. At this point, the whole cultural appropriation thing is so sandblasted and glossed over that I find it quite easy to ignore, at least until a drag queen like Roxy Marquis (from Minneapolis, of all places) re-re-contextualizes it into something even more subversive — and decidedly less consumer-targeted — than most pop artists are capable of.

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