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Material Mom | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

Material Mom

"I want to do everything," Madonna said recently. I thought she was talking about positions. (I was a keen reader of her X-rated 1992 book of photography, Sex.) My twelve year old daughter thought she was talking about her MTV Video Music Awards' open-mouth pump and grind kissing routine with Britney Spears and Cristina Aguilera.

Turns out that we were clueless. Madonna has found another way to have it all. On September 15th, this kinder and gentler forty-four year old mother of two, America's premier mistress of reinvention (once married to bad boy Sean Penn and involved romantically with, among others, Warren Beatty and Dennis Rodman), tackled J.K. Rowling's empire.

Madonna's first children's book, English Roses, was simultaneously released in more than one hundred countries in forty two languages with all the hoopla and publicity that normally surrounds Rowling's Harry Potter. The plot is based on Madonna's spiritual lodestar Kabbalah--the mystical Jewish guide to the universe. ("Yikes, I for one never knew Madonna was Jewish," writes some strange columnist called Mr. Joel of Hollywood, an independent blogger.)

I think early Madonna was brilliant, I respect her ability to cause controversy and her mastery of reinvention and rejuvenation, and I would rather read Madonna's book for kids than William Bennett's moral sermons--or, for that matter, former French sexpot Brigitte Bardot's new work, Cry in the Silence. (Bardot, an ardent right-wing National Front supporter, uses her book to rail against immigration to France, to bash women in politics, gays who assert their rights, and unemployed people who are "handsomely kept by taxpayers.")

Madonna, on the other hand, recently made an antiwar music video for her new single "American Life." When accused that she was being un-American, Madonna responded: "I am not anti-Bush. I am not pro-Iraq. I am pro-peace." (So America has better aging sexpots than France. Maybe the Bush Administration could find a way to work this into its French-bashing routines?)

As a forty three year old mother of one, who believes in personal reinvention and redemption (and sin and sex), I think Madonna has a right to have it all. My daughter and I are going off to buy English Roses later this week. And I may dig out my 1984 copy of Like A Virgin. I bet it's held up well.

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