Madonna Queen of Reinvention
What is Reinvention, REALLY? Why do people keep using this “invented” word? Aside from being a huge Madonna fan, and a web designer, I’m a life coach and, trust me, I know about “reinvention” and “reinventing”. This is such an overused term in coaching, it gets annoying.
Reinvention: the action or process through which something is changed so much that it appears to be entirely new. To produce something new that is based on something that already exists.
I was watching (again) Dangerous Liaisons the other night. I can’t help feeling fascinated every time I see it. Not only the story captures you, but also the characters. Anyway, there comes a point where Le Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovich) asks Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close): “How do you manage to invent yourself?”. She answers:
“Well, I had no choice, did I? I’m a woman. Women are obliged to be far more skilful than men. You can ruin our reputation and our life with a few well-chosen words. So, of course, I had to invent not only myself, but ways of escape no one has ever thought of before. And I’ve succeeded because I’ve always known I was born to dominate your sex and avenge my own… […]”.
Apparently, association of ideas started to work in my brain and I thought: “Wow, that sounds like something Madonna would say, doesn’t it?”. Then I remembered The Pleasures of the Damned by Bukowski:
[…] “Invent yourself and then reinvent yourself and
stay out of the clutches of mediocrity.
Invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
change your tone and shape so often that they can never categorize you”.
… and I… looked him up. Turns out that Madonna and Bukowski not only were acquittances (it appears that he was friends with Sean Penn), but they were born on the same day (different year of course).
So, is Madonna constantly reinventing herself? Is Reinvention the right word?
After re-reading the Pleasures of the Damned, I started to wonder if Bukowski was an influence of any kind on Madonna, since she’s known to be the Queen of Reinvention, even though she doesn’t consider herself as such. But could the above verses have made an impression and left a mark on Madonna’s early days?
Certainly, Madonna doesn’t want to be categorised, but she doesn’t consider herself a chameleon or Queen of Reinvention either (this would be categorising too). So, I don’t know if Bukowski’s verses made an impact on her or not but it also seems that reinvention is not the right word to describe Madonna. Is there one word that could describe her or sum her up?
I would use the word evolution, rather than reinvention, for Madonna.
In an interview for USA Today (march 1998), regarding her image shifts, Madonna said, “I am not reinventing myself; I am going through layers and revealing myself. I am on a journey, an adventure that’s constantly changing shape.”
In other words, Madonna’s just following her instincts. And it would appear that she’s got some sort of a sixth sense. If not, how can you explain that her gut’s been right so many times?
Yet she named one of her tours The Re-Invention Tour.
There are three contradictions in those two paragraphs above, have you noticed?
Madonna is called the Queen of Reinvention, she says she’s not, she names a tour Re-Invention.
Queen of Reinvention vs Queen of Contradiction
I don’t know if Madonna is the Queen of Reinvention or not. What is clear to me is that she is the Queen of Contradiction, and I love that. (Naturally, I don’t think that being contradictory applies to her private life too. I’m quite sure that she’s a very consistent and coherent person).
I was saying that I love that. Because being a contradiction herself makes Madonna unpredictable, and being contradictory seems to be something inherent to Madonna the persona. You never know what to expect and that’s essential to be or become an icon. Maybe reinventing has something to do with being contradictory. Certainly, both terms have something to do with change.
No predictions about Madonna have ever been too right. She’s been known to have made a lot of smart people look like idiots when trying to do so. No one knows what she’ll do next. The only thing we know for sure is that she will not stop, and she has repeatedly told the world not to even think about telling her to do so. She has continued to be a strong and powerful presence for an exceptionally long time, always re-emerging with a new look, a new guise, a new… re-invention or contradiction, shedding her skin and rising once more just when everyone is about to write her off.
The fun thing about Madonna is that, 35 years into her career, people still care and wonder what she’s going to do. And you can’t say that about a lot of people.
As I was saying, there’s a tremendous pleasure in not knowing, and the feeling of anticipation. Madonna remains interesting to us because we’re still interesting to her and because she’s still interesting to herself.