Revisited A Decade Later: “American Life”

“I’d like to express my extreme point of view.  I’m not a Christian, and I’m not a Jew.  I’m just living out the American Dream, and I just realized that nothing is what it seems.”

~ Madonna 2003

gp(page_divider2)

March 2013 marked the 10-year anniversary of “Shock and Awe”, the launch of the US invasion of Iraq, and the launch of Madonna’s music video, “American Life”, protesting the invasion of Iraq.

Madonna’s 2003 “American Life” video was a commentary about the “social disease” plaguing America leading up to the war. In the video, looking more like the yet-to-be famous Sarah Palin, Madonna croons about living the American dream from jumbotrons at a fashion show. Meanwhile, between cutaway scenes of bombs exploding, models in military-chic uniforms work the runway before the paparazzi and unimpressed affluent audience.

At the time of the video’s release, the backlash was so brutal and unrelenting that for the first time in her outspoken career, Madonna retreated from her detractors and withdrew the video (to see uncensored version click here). On the subject, she said in a statement,”Due to the volatile state of the world and out of sensitivity and respect to the armed forces, who I support and pray for, I do not want to risk offending anyone who might misinterpret the meaning of this video.”

A decade later, there’s something haunting about “American Life”. Knowing what we know now, Madonna’s then controversial video seems more like an accurate foretelling of the past decade than the distasteful, unpatriotic betrayal critics made the video out to be in 2003.

When the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003, I recall how Main Street looked like a 4th of July parade, minus the crowds.  There were US flags, yellow ribbons, and yard signs urging neighbors to “Support the Troops”, but all the action was happening indoors, where Americans were feeding on the 24-hours news coverage of the unraveling war.

Sitting here today and looking back, the greatest atrocity of the Iraqi War is not the manipulation of Americans, the war profiteering, or the deceitful lies that led us to Iraq in the first place. Other than the loss of so many lives, what I find most sobering is how disconnected Americans became from both wars, myself included.

Other than writing this post with a sanctimonious tone, what did I do to support the troops?  Nothing.  Not one protest, care package, donation, or yellow ribbon.  Although I wished for the troops safety, I, like most Americans, ultimately got distracted as the war progressed.  Sure, I scoffed at the mess when it spiraled out of control, demanded change I could believe in, but in the end – I was removed from the horrors of war, a complacent member of the audience, attending the “American Life” fashion show.

american_life(madonna)Thinking back to the reaction against Madonna and other artists, like the Dixie Chicks, who dared to express their opposition to the war, I wonder now – What if I had been more outspoken?  Does it pay to speak the truth in the land of the free?

If Madonna is any indication, arguably “no”. For all intents and purposes, “American Life” marked the demise of Madonna, the American radio star. Preceding the controversy, Madonna had 12 number 1 songs and over a dozen more Top 5 Billboard hits.  Following the controversy, however, Madonna had only 1 song in top five (thanks to Justin Timberlake).

Perhaps it’s mere coincidence that Madonna became “radio irrelevant” after speaking out against the war.  Maybe you can dismiss 20 years of record-breaking success between the years of 1983 – 2003 and call it a fluke, but doing so would mean ignoring Madonna’s success outside America between the years of 2003 – 2013.

  • “Hung Up”, which was released in 2005, is one of the best selling singles of all time by any artists. While the song only peaked at #7 in the US, it broke the Guinness Book of World Records for reaching #1 in 41 other countries simultaneously.
  • Madonna’s 2012 “MDNA” World Tour is the 2nd highest grossing tour for a female solo artist of all time (1st place was achieved by Madonna in 2008 with her “Sticky and Sweet” tour).

The purpose of this article is not to say Madonna is awesome (although there is clearly some of that).  Regardless of whether you love or despise Madonna, as a matter of principle, I’d like the record to show…

Regarding the War in Iraq, Madonna was right, and George W. Bush was wrong.  When we didn’t want to hear it but needed to listen most, Madonna spoke the truth.  And in return, boys and girls, the King’s minions banished the Queen of Pop from the airwaves, where she’d reigned for 20 years.

In 2003, then President of the United States, George W. Bush, manipulated Americans into supporting the invasion of Iraq.  In the aftermath of 9/11, his administration preyed on our grief, fears, and patriotism, and lied about weapons of mass destruction, defrauding the citizens and ideals he swore to preserve and protect.

In rallying for unity, America sacrificed freedom and censored opposing views, discounting the very essence of the democracy that President Bush was peddling for Iraq.

Since the War in Iraq began over 100,000 people have been killed, including over 4,000 Americans.  Perhaps by 2023, once the ground stops shifting beneath me, I’ll have a better vantage of the war’s historical significance.

screen-capture-26In the meantime, this much I’ve learned…

Like it or not, in the past decade war became increasingly fashionable, and although there are obvious exceptions, on the whole, the American public became disengaged from the wars.

Had we been more engaged, we might have demanded justice and insisted that elected politicians atone for war crimes.  But we didn’t.  Because doing so, we were led to believe, would be unpatriotic.

In 2013, what I find unforgivable and un-American is that we didn’t fight more for our armed forces, we didn’t hold our government accountable for the well being of the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.  A right we ultimately punished the likes of Madonna for valuing and exercising.

Does it pay to speak the truth in the land of the free?  Despite her exile, I suspect Madonna would answer, “Of course, it does.”

After bursting on stage in a Mini Cooper, presumably feeling super-dooper, the “American Life” video ends with Madonna jolting her audience awake…

Freedom is not an illusion, or at least it shouldn’t be.  It isn’t fashionable or chic and should never be taken for granted. Freedom is the result of sacrifice, integrity, and courage.  It requires equal doses of pride and humility, the fortitude to accept our humanity and recognize when we are wrong.

In America, freedom is a measure of character.  It means standing by my convictions and calling out hypocrisy, while fighting relentlessly for my opponent’s right to express their (misguided) views.

Freedom is intended to be a celebration heard throughout the world.  Regardless of how much it may personally pain you, for America in 2013, freedom follows when we can admit together…

Madonna was right.  George W. Bush was wrong.

gp(page_divider2)

On December 14, 2011, President Obama announced the end of the War in Iraq.  On cue, a month later, in a formal ceremony watched by millions, Madonna returned home to the United States.

Her performance at the Super Bowl was the most-watched television event in U.S. history, drawing more viewers than the game between the Giants and Patriots.

Ushered into the stadium on a golden chariot pulled by centurions, Madonna’s performance was an over-the-top extravaganza, a fairytale homecoming worthy of an exiled Queen, who once upon a time defied a slack-jawed King and his minions.

Please join me donating to the Wounded Warrior Project.

gp(page_divider2)Progressive politics and the politics of Madonna are the subject of “Guy Penn & the Gospel According to Madonna” written by Damon Wallace. 

For blog updates, follow along through Facebook or Twitter.

Leave a comment

46 Comments

  1. In the end, Madonna was right all along! American Life may not quite be her best record but it’s a Truthful, Daring and Honest Rock record that cries a Daring Truth! Chapters like Nobody Knows Me, Mother/Father, sole hit Die Another Day and career summation Easy Ride Cry with Existential Madonna Sadness! Hey, I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MADONNA!

    Reply
  2. divad1973@aol.com

     /  August 25, 2013

    I just want to say what amazing job you did with this article. The state of affairs in America is very sketchy and divided these days. War, economy, and morality are all in the forefront and I commend Madonna for her voice and commitment to equality and her r”EVOL”ution.
    Also, in my opinion, the songs of the American Life album are brilliant songwriting. I miss the folky/rock Madonna, but I do enjoy her dance/electronica as well. She is always in my heart forever and I am so glad to be a witness to all her artistic endeavors. No other entertainer could possibly compare to the ingenuity and artistic value that Madonna presents.

    Reply
  3. Terry H

     /  July 21, 2013

    I’m late to this article, but well written! I am Australian and don’t really listen to the radio (I need to control my own musical environment!) but I know Madonna is treated as a heritage artist here, so her back catalog gets more of an airing. The original American Life video was actually aired here without any issues, so I found it astonishing that M pulled it from US tv. Of course, knowing the political climate of a region does help!

    As an aside, I find American Life the album a very cohesive album. The fact that Mirwais produced every song probably helps!

    Reply
    • Thanks for the feedback, Terry. I agree with you about AL, very cohesive album, which (in my opinion) has aged very well. From an American perspective, I think it is definitely underrated.

      Reply
  4. Wow – what an awesome article Damon! I must say, I pretty actively protested the invasion of Iraq back then, and for whatever reason wasn’t really aware of American Life, but was much more aware of the Dixie Chicks and of course Bill Maher. I wish I’d known that Madonna was a sister in truth – I would have liked her even more. I’m going to go check our your posted videos now. Thanks!!

    Reply
  5. Dave

     /  April 26, 2013

    Just to congratulate you on a pretty thoughtful article; thanks for sharing your thoughts on American Life and the context it came from

    Reply
  6. I’ve been obsessed with Madonna since the beginning and am now obsessed with your blog. Madonna’s voice on American Life is as beautiful as it was on the Evita soundtrack. American Life showcases her vulnerable/confident tone beautifully. Love it. Love the blog. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Lonnie! Glad to hear you are enjoying the blog. I love Madonna’s voice in American Life too; it’s dreamy (as it is in Evita).

      Reply
  7. jr35

     /  March 1, 2013

    Nice article and perspective. Just one thing: American Life no longer is her lowest-selling studio album. 🙂

    Reply
  8. — Love Madonna, not her politics.

    Reply
  9. Dan B

     /  February 28, 2013

    Here is the original American Life video:
    http://www.jonasakerlund.com/music-videos/#madonna-american-life

    Reply
  10. hector

     /  February 26, 2013

    UGH… just clicked on video and it was a remixed…nothing wrong with the remix, but the video is the watered down version. Where is the original? The one that still would send people into a hating frenzy!!!
    The ending is the most powerful visual in the video and by writing about how Madonna was right [ever wrong??..hehe] and not including the ending is just plain disastrous to truly make your statement work.
    Also, since SEX book, the US market has turned a cold shoulder to her music or anything Madonna. The US is way, way more comfortable with VIOLENCE than people enjoying SEX. Even now parents would much rather have kids watch a super violent, bloody movie than someone showing affection without their clothes. And she was right again….She did not know she could NOT talk about SEX!!!! Our Material Girl was growing up when she pulled the Am Life video from circulation. She was protecting her children from the “crazies” who would have targeted her kids just because she was speaking out against Bush and the war. So do yourselves a favor and look up the ORGINAL American Life video and watch it.

    Reply
  11. Tyler

     /  February 23, 2013

    Great article. I remember her “American Life” album coming out, but it came out very quietly. I don’t think many were aware she had an album out. Everyone was obsessed with the war which got us where exactly? Nowhere. We lost lives in the process. I liked the album when I heard it. I didn’t love all the songs and I was not a fan of the second half of the title track when she starts rapping. Love Profusion and Nothing Fails I thought were incredible and have always been my favorite two songs of that CD. I also liked she incorporated more guitar. This was pretty close to a rock, alternative or indie flavored album you have to admit. Very unlike Madonna, but still good the nonetheless. The album still did well, it just didn’t do as well as her other bigger successes is all.

    Reply
  12. Firat & foremost, I enjoyed your article. You made the connection to American Life Madonna et al., wanted an American to make. The sad part is that (in my opinion) American Life over shot the mindless ignorance of Americans to follow their leaders choices. American Life is a great album regardless of sales, but I am biased pro-Madonna. Historically The “uncognative masses” in the USA disapprove of nonpolitical entities coming in with something contradictory at a time of national unrest. Nationalism is good for rallying support during times when a people feel wounded but too much rally can lead to facisism. Just like Jesus, Madonna probably knew she would be rejected but Madonna loves martyrdom. In her highnesses “no fear, no glory” mind, I feel that Madonna knew a project like American Life would chip away at a far right swing in nationalism. I applaud her, the Dixie Chicks, Susan S., and others who helped keep this country from going too far right in the post 9/11 era. 🙂

    Reply
  13. YES!!! Love the article!!! I remember living in England in 02 for 8 months the same time Madonna was. I left America a Bush supporter (we all were in 2001, sorry, u may not remember, but it felt unpatriotic after 9/11 not to be). Then I lived with a French Muslim and kids from other nations that helped me see how f’ed up this country is. I saw Madonna in her play ‘Up For Grabs’ that was really awesome and was excited to hear she had a new record coming out called ‘American Life’….when I read the lyrics for the first time, tho, I almost died as I felt like she was speaking DIRECTLY to me! ‘Do I have to change my name? WIll it get me far? Should I lose some weight? Am I gonna be a star?’ I was mulling over changing Andrew to Andru (now it’s And.r.u? for my stagename…like my music page! facebook.com/urpsychicpopstar), having jus started writing songs and figuring out, should I really try and be a popstar?? More to the point, should I lose some weight, am I gonna be a star?? Those were the thoughts in my head!! I had jus realized what the American Dream is, that it IS a thing; other countries don’t ask ‘what do you wanna be when you grow up?’ But it’s an illusion, a pacifier so we shut up and believe we can be like the top .0002% of the world, the multi-billionaires that rule our world whose names and faces we don’t know….
    When I heard the whole record, I thought it was the best thing since sliced tomatoes….NO Ero Marc Lam she did not make a bad record… Ill never forget the oddest thing watching what was a noon program kinda like TRL on MTV; they had kids on there and they were talking about Madonna’s new record, saying ‘I don’t get it, she’s mixing the acoustic guitar with electronic music, doesn’t make sense…’ and everyone agreed….while Music was way less of cohesive album and she did the exact same thing, perverting the acoustic guitar with electronics on Don’t Tell Me and making strange noises behind a guitar on I Deserve It. But Music was lauded while American Life was lambasted!! Madonna pulling the video WAS smart because she WOULD have been “Dixie Chicked” as hell if she’d released it…it’s one of her most cohesive albums, def. one of her best, and you’re absolutely right, I remember the media turned on her after that. I think it started with the American Life anti-American disinformation they let flow, then continued because of ageism.
    Ageism in pop music is HORRIBLE, esp towards women. Im a massage therapist by trade and worked on a 54 year old man the other day and thought to myself, god, Madonna could look THIS old!! Jus had 2nd row to MDNA in November and FINALLY after 22 years of utter worship and seeing all tours since 01, was close enough to look her in the eyes and say THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU!! straight up, serious as hell, not freaking out, but in the moment as it was the single most epic one of my life. My bff is my witness that it was like she came back a second time and seemed to almost look for me again. It’s like I met the Pope or the president, neither of which, ps, are a better example of what a human being can do or achieve, mind, body, and soul in a lifetime. That she could still undress for an audience and do a striptease at her age and look so good while doing dance moves that put Gaga and Britney TO SHAME lately is totally unprecedented, as is her career. She will NOT be appreciated fully til she’s gone, and then we’ll realize, that’s what you can do with your life. That was the biggest, most well-rounded, most successful artist in the history of humanity who lived to bask in her spotlight and flourish and grow, getting bigger and bigger and bigger (and better!). NO ONE has gotten that big and NOT fallen, not Michael, Whitney, Mariah, even Prince on the Grammys, it was like, oh, what’s he been up to?? Madonna’s ‘fall’ happened in 92-93 and was only bc of her art (the ‘Sex’ book, ps, is why Madonna will never be topped as far as the art of shock goes…she lays on a dog in it for god’s sake! The ONE TIME I was like, Madonna, you got me, finally, jus this once, I cannot go there with you). We never wonder what Madonna’s up to bc we know she jus had a #1 album, performed a massive Superbowl extravaganza, and is on tour (with the best show I have ever seen in my life…and I’ve seen upwards of 50 concerts…). She will end up being the template for not just a pop singer, but the way we should all live our lives, with gusto and determination and a brain. Of course she was right with American Life. Goddesses are never wrong. And she’s the epitome of what Wiccans mean when they talk of the Goddess, only also a human being…

    Reply
    • Bruno Detoulouse

       /  January 3, 2016

      Interesting and powerful! 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing!

      Reply
  14. Appreciate your perspective, and I’ve been thinking myself about how different “American Life” feels NOW as opposed to the early 2000s, which is what attracted me to your piece. I think you make some interesting points, but you’re offbase on one very key part of your thesis. Firstly, the backlash to the “American Life” video you cite was a blip at best, precisely BECAUSE she pulled the video in advance of its release. It was pretty much a non-event, by Madonna’s own doing.

    More importantly, the suggestion that the “end of the era” of Madonna’s radio and chart success is the result of public chastisement for speaking against the war is pretty difficult to bear out (and not only because you don’t provide any citations to do so). This generalization doesn’t take into account some key facts:
    –Madonna’s US radio and chart success had already been in steady decline for over a decade in 2003, as throughout the 90s her music became more introspective, outre and esoteric and hence less commercially viable. While it’s true that she hasn’t had a #1 hit in 13 years–2000’s “Music” being the last one–she also has only had *two* #1 hits in *20* years (1994’s “Take a Bow” being the previous #1). Those aren’t healthy statistics, if chart stats are the measuring stick.
    –American radio *itself* has declined in relevance, from a commercial perspective, such that it barely factors in the measurement of a song or artist’s success anymore, because of the new and more democratic ways of consuming music the internet brought about. That inexorable decline was already happening in 2003, when “American Life” was released; it has continued unabated ever since.
    –Madonna had not yet conformed to the new online ways of distributing music in 2003 (remember the “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” dummy files that downloaders received instead of the “American Life” album when trying to download digital copies?) so the aforementioned dying format of radio was the only means of marketing the album. The folly of which brings me to my next point.
    –Not a single song on “American Life” is radio-friendly, either sonically or lyrically (which is not a criticism, and cannot possibly be anything but a deliberate move on Madonna’s part; anybody with even a rudimentary working knowledge of the music industry and American tastes would have expected “American Life” to connect with very few people outside Madonna’s core fanbase). Nor are the songs on “Confessions on a Dance Floor.” Nor are the songs on “MDNA.” “Hard Candy” is the one exception, except that…
    –perhaps most importantly, as Madonna ages, so does her fanbase. “Music” marked the last time the youngest arm of Madonna’s core fanbase was part of that holy grail of musical taste-making and record-buying, the early 20-something consumer. It’s not a coincidence that this marked the end of her chart ascendancy; nor is it a coincidence that her Justin Timberlake duet was able to break into the charts, but nothing else she’s done since “Music” has even come close, nor did any of the non-Timberlake tracks from “Hard Candy.” Her music’s decline in relevance, from a chart, radio and sales perspective, has far more to do with the advancing age of both her and her fans than anything else. Diana Ross stopped topping the charts eventually too. It’s just the way it is, even for Madonna. (This is why her career now focuses almost entirely on touring, and why she has pursued 360 deals instead of the traditional recording contracts of yore. Her stock in trade is and will be for the remainder of her career her ability to put on an amazing show–for people old and financially stable enough to afford a ticket–which is a skill she has that very few, if any, younger artists can compete with.)

    In short, Madonna’s commercial decline (which in and of itself is only relevant when using very specific, narrow measurements) has far more to do with simple market forces that some perceived Bush-era anti-war backlash. It just doesn’t add up.

    Reply
    • Appreciate the feedback, John. You bring up some good points, especially about the aging of Madonna’s fan base and the changes in the music industry. But it doesn’t explain why in countries like Canada, for example, Madonna had five #1’s and four top 5 radio hits since 2003. Madonna’s fan base aged throughout the world and changes in the music industry were not exclusive to the US. I still stand by my premise too. I suspect any fading popularity in radio would have been less abrupt had it not been for AL.

      Reply
    • riff raft jones

       /  February 25, 2013

      I disagree with the assessment of Madonna’s chart success. To place any song on the charts regardless format , regardless of charting position is an unbelievably difficult task. 2012 brought a top 10 hit bringing Madonna to 38 top 10s, more than elvis and the beatles. Having the most successful tour of any artist also doesn’t count? Give Madonna her props.

      Reply
      • This article was addressing Madonna’s radio success in the US. Her success in every other area of her career (dance charts, tours, international radio success, etc…) validates my point. She had twelve #1 and over a dozen more top 5 prior to AL. Following AL, she had 3 songs in the top 10, which is a dramatic change. Had she maintained the radio success she had before AL, Madonna would have far surpassed Elvis in the US by now.

  15. Blue_Bird

     /  February 21, 2013

    I think the pulling out of AL music video was her own decision to expand her message against the War in the world. I mean, after AL video came out, Madge recieved only criticism in the USA. But other coutries admired her decision. And after her decision on pulling out the original one, other countries paid more attention on the video and more admired her voice.

    Well you are in the USA, so you might not know reaction in other countries surrounding the video. I’m in South Korea. So I witnessed that her AL video, and its consequences made headline in the major news shows in South Korea. It’s very unusual in South Korea that the major news shows make headlines about US’ or other countries’ entertainers.

    Somebody could compare Dixie Chics to Madonna about Anti-War Protest at the moment. But Dixie Chics have not been famous as Madonna in the countries except US. So their voice has not been seriously mentioned in the news shows in countries except USA.

    So, I guess that Madonna liked to make her voice louder with pulling out the video cause it’s true her decision of pulling out the video made more news in countries including US. Especially in South Korea, the pulling out video was mentioned like America goes wrong way repressing freedom of speech under the Bush Era.

    I think Madonna must have known the impact in other countries cause Madonna knows her own value or the difference between her and other US pop stars. I mean different from ohter US pop stars, she is not an just US star but a global star who can cause international news.

    But she had to pay the price for her message. Due to the political thing, she was not able to promote the album as usual.

    I’m not a native English speaker so I did not understand perfectly your posting and there were bunch of mistake in my reply. But, as a Madonna fan outside of US, I want to make a comment because the AL video and its pulling out was differently viewed in my country from US. And as you know Madonna is not normal US pop stars who can be considered as stars only in US.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the great feedback. I appreciate your perspective and thought you made perfect sense. I am definitely coming from a US angle, so your insight is helpful. Thank you!

      Reply
  16. ero marc lamb

     /  February 19, 2013

    Ok I wil get lambasted for this so… Let me start by saying that was extremely well written. You are right she did make a protest album she was outspoken and there was a backlash. However the underpinning of your premise is that she was a lone voice of protest why we were all willing little lambs. I am not much of a Madge fan never was. I will dance to some of her old songs and I think she has made some really decent pop music. I do not however see her as a queen who was banished. She was already living abroad when she made American Life. There were many other voices of protest for the war too. I remember being glad she was saying something however the self usual self indulgence ( dressed as Che meet Patti Herst Oy can the appropriation ever end??) had its usual effect on me, which was to annoy. I clearly remember the quality of the music and what many thought was trivializing the issue, and to be fair thats a risk entertainers take when they make political statements with their music and it is an honorable thing to do no matter what the end product. I am just am not sure it holds the same social significance that you are assigning to it. Maybe she just made a bad record.

    Reply
    • No worries. Lambaste-free zone. I recognize that Madonna was one of many, many people who protested and spoke out against the war. I am guilty of being over-dramatic with the “banished queen” comment. Dramatics aside, my point is that Madonna (like the Dixie Chicks) decision to speak out against the war had long-term negative consequences on their radio careers in the US. After being a fan for over 25 years, I have met many, many people who share your view of Madonna (annoying, attention seeking, etc…), which is why I felt admitting “Madonna was right, and George was wrong” packed more punch.

      Each of us gravitates to art and artist who inspire us, and performance artists like Madonna are open to interpretation. In the end, how people react to Madonna tends to say more about the person than the artist. Where some people see an annoying, attention seeking, manipulative opportunist, in Madonna I see a hard working, disciplined, outspoken woman, which resonates with me personally. Likewise, there are many other talented artist and musicians who personally make me cringe, but I’ve learned (as hard as it can be at times) my dislike for those performers doesn’t make their fans wrong. It just means I have different taste.

      In all sincerity, I appreciate the feedback and thanks for the compliment.

      Reply
  17. Right on! This is a very spot on review. I had not seen the original video until today…but I’ve always wanted to. I remember in last years MDNA tour when the “Nobody Knows Me” section came up, it always reminded me of this era. I was fortunate to have seen that show 4 times; I had never seen any of her previous tours and she has always been a huge influence on me.

    I’ve always thought this song held an important message and last year I reconnected with it. I think it is pathetic that a lot of people in this country continue to act as sheep led to the slaughter house. Wake the F* up! -Think for your self – Make a statement – Take a stance!

    Well done GP!

    Reply
    • Thanks Kevin! I saw MDNA twice and loved it. “Nobody Knows Me” is one of my favorite Madonna songs (disclaimer: I have many favorite Madonna songs). I especially loved her performance of “Nobody Knows Me” during the Reinvention Tour.

      Reply
  18. I’m a pretty big fan of Madonna but I don’t think that this remix video you’ve included is ANYTHING like the original video. I never got a sense that the song was about the Iraq war… The whole thing was a little disjointed and unclear back then. She was going on about her butler and starbucks and everything. It never really came together for me and this article seems to imply that there was more meaning that what she intended.

    Reply
  19. What a great post! I’d never thought about the resemblance to Sarah Palin but it really is quite prescient. I so wish this video had been released uncut, but I can totally understand how Madonna felt pushed into her corner. The difference between the ‘fearless’ M of ’92, and ’03 is, I think, that by then she had children to consider.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the feedback. Couldn’t agree more about the kids. I actually had that point in my initial draft but cut out (article already wordy enough). I think if it was Madonna from ’93, she wouldn’t have backed down.

      Reply
  20. Awesome Article! 🙂

    Reply
  21. sorry for the spelling..meant…rotation 🙂

    Reply
  22. MTV should put the original video in rotataion now and see how people respond. I think many never saw it….and just went by word of mouth.

    Reply
  23. Kent Landis Hartman

     /  February 17, 2013

    I actually think we knew what was happening and so did Madonna. It was all immediately apparent from the first viewing of the original video. Probably her best work. Very good review.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the feedback, Kent. I think the video resonates more now, given what we know for sure to be true, but agree with you that the video was accurate from the get go.

      Reply
      • Kent Landis Hartman

         /  March 6, 2013

        Yes, it ages very well.. I didn’t expect this much audacity and apparently nether did MTV or the powers that moved their editorial staff. When violence rules the airwaves something that had meaning and relevance was too much while we suffered under the rein of a Bush and the co- opted MSM. Once again thanks for your thoughtful analysis.

  24. The best historical analysis ddraw froma soundtrack ! Brilliant and Insightful! Thank you !

    Reply
  25. Wow! I feel like you climbed into my brain and stole my thoughts. I, too, sadly feel we as a nation failed to fight for freedom,. This post had me on the edge of my seat. I literally cried. (As an aside… I still listen to the American Life album. I believe it is my most played album of the past decade. It has never been deleted from my ipod… Oh and I never have time to read. Or maybe it’s the attention I lack, or lose. I read this twice. Thank you for sharing.)

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for the feedback. I’m glad the article resonated with you. AL is one of my top 3 favorite Madonna albums. It’s received a lot of playtime over the past decade from me too. I especially love the song “Intervention” (which was the alternate ending for this post). 😉

      Reply
      • “In the blink of an eye everything could change. Say hello to your life now your living. This is it from now on. It’s a brand new day. It was time to wake up from this dream” INTERVENTION is a song I never tire of.

  1. REVISITED A DECADE LATER: “AMERICAN LIFE” « squaremadonna

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Follow on Facebook

  • Top Posts & Pages

%d bloggers like this: