The open-mouthed kisses between aging pop star Madonna and 15th-minute celebrity clingers Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, broadcast on MTV last week, received widespread media attention. The Sapphic spectacle was rightly condemned as vulgar, cynical, and desperately pathetic.
But the commentariat missed the real horror.
Up on stage for the raunchy performance of Madonna's "Like a Virgin" was 6-year-old Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon. Little Lourdes was dressed in First Communion white, decked out in lace gloves, a crucifix, and a studded belt with the words "BOY TOY." Paving the way for the entrance of Madonna and her entourage of sexual exhibitionists, Lourdes tossed flower petals on the dance floor while a mosh pit of fans writhed in front of her and the porno soundtrack throbbed behind her.
Lourdes is Madonna's firstborn child.
What kind of craven, twisted mother enlists her own daughter in such a shameless public orgy? And what about the other grownups in this damaged child's life? Lourdes' father, an ex-boyfriend and former personal trainer, was nowhere to be seen. Lourdes' stepfather, director Guy Ritchie, sat in the audience and apparently approved of his wife's reckless abuse of childhood innocence. He did nothing to rescue Lourdes from the sewer of immorality onstage.
No, Mr. Ritchie sat and gawked with the rest of the world as his wife, gussied up in the latest dominatrix chic, slithered up and down the bodies of two young nymphets old enough to be her daughters (and in so many ways, of course, Britney and Christina are Madonna's creative spawn). So caught up in the performance was Mr. Ritchie that he made no effort to rush backstage to make sure his wife's real daughter's eyes and ears were covered while Mummy tongue-wrestled the two pop vixens.
Over the past few years, the entertainment press has worked slavishly to assist in the rehabilitation of Madonna's image. A fawning People magazine cover story four months ago bore the headline: "Madonna's Real Life: Once a naughty Material Girl, the pop icon has turned into a doting mom and devoted wife." Friends and "spiritual advisers" praised the foul-mouthed, bear-all celebrity for adopting a "laid-back domestic life" focused on motherhood. "Our whole life is based around the children," she boasted of Lourdes and Rocco, her 2-year-old son with Ritchie. "We get up with them in the morning. I get my daughter ready for school. I spend time with my son before he goes off to his daycare. Either Guy or I am always with them at dinner, and we spend evenings together."