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."
"She's definitely a hands-on mother," choreographer James King said. A regular June Cleaver with those hands. "We'd be in the middle of rehearsal on the Drowned World tour and, say, in the middle of doing 'Holiday,' Lourdes would come in and Madonna would stop everything and ask what kind of day she had at school."
Madonna has yet to receive a Mother of the Year award, but corporate pimps looking to cash in on what's left of her fame have come up with something even more outrageous. Next week, she'll launch a line of children's books -- five "morality tales" -- to be hawked on Amazon.com, at GapKids stores, in more than 30 languages and in more than 100 countries. Explaining her noble motive for delving into kiddie lit, she condemned the "vapid and vacant" stories she was reading to her children. "There were, like, no lessons. . . . There's, like, no books about anything."
Uh-huh. Madonna shares the frustrations of normal parents like you and me who are worried about our nihilistic world going to hell in a handbasket. Reacting to lowered standards of decency on television last year, she indignantly exclaimed, "People have no morals, I swear to God."
By purchasing children's tales authored by a freak of Hollyweird willing to employ her own daughter in her obscene and insatiable quest for buzz, the people will prove her right.