Suzanne Fields

The material girl withdrew her antiwar video in which she bravely threw a hand grenade at George W. Bush. Well, at his lookalike. (He has lookalikes just like Saddam Hussein. Cute.) He catches it and pulls the pin and it turns into a cigarette lighter. He lights his cigar with it.

In an MTV interview she characterizes this as reflecting her pacifism. "The one who catches it," she says, "takes something that could be violent and destructive and takes the destruction out of it by turning it into something else." (Really cute. The material girl is deep, very deep.)

But she thought again about the impact of that message. She cancelled the American release because it was "inappropriate" at this time: "Due to the volatile state of the world and out of sensitivity and respect to the armed forces, I do not want to risk offending anyone who might misinterpret the meaning of this video." Due to the volatile state of the market, she didn't want to risk a negative impact on sales, either. Where patriotism fails, the marketplace prevails.

Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks learned that lesson the hard way. When she told a London audience that she was ashamed the president was from Texas - she's from Lubbock - her fans deserted in droves. Radio stations declined to play anything by the Chicks. One station set aside trash cans for Dixie Chicks CDs. She apologized, of course.

These incidents may reveal a lot about the antiwar protests: They're not getting a lot of support from young people. The largest segment of the CD market is composed of customers between the ages of 11 and 25 and they're the ones most enraged by the Dixie Chicks. Madonna, getting a little long in the tooth at 44 as the kids measure celebrity age, has a fan base over 25. She's desperate to hold onto them. She must be careful.

"Almost two-thirds of Americans born since 1978 say they have a great deal of confidence in the military leadership," writes David King, author of "The Generation of Trust: How the U.S. Military Has Regained the Public's Confidence Since Vietnam." The children who as teenagers watched the Gulf War on television 12 years ago are the men and women fighting in Baghdad today. They're volunteers who want to be all they can be.

In one of several versions of Madonna's video, she struts in a tight-fitting military uniform, her dog tags looped around her neck. A model appears in a gas mask and thong panties. This is tasteless at any time, but it's particularly nasty in the wake of the heroic rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch, 19, a clerk typist who suffered broken bones and a bullet wound in a fire fight with Iraqi irregulars and was taken prisoner of war.

Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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