When Madonna’s quasi-documentary Truth or Dare came out in 1991, it was still shocking to see a celebrity pretending to fellate a water bottle. That is to say that the genre of celeb-reality had yet to exist. Now that every blonde starlet with a face and a sex life has a reality television show, watching Truth or Dare proves that Britney and Jessica are just pale, vapid, insipid simulacra of the original Ambitious Blonde and that in some ways Madonna is even more revolutionary than she’s given credit for being.
Though you see many facets of Madonna in Truth or Dare — she vacillates from tender to cruel and back again with the mere flip of her bleached locks — but the often-prophetic New York Times critic Janet Maslin said it best in her review of the tome: “She brings to mind the Bob Dylan of the 1967 D.A. Pennebaker film Don’t Look Back in her ability to appear elusive, dangerous, and at all times absolutely in control of those around her.”
And that’s the pathetic thing about Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson, specifically. The two dueling twits have their own reality shows (Jessica’s Newlyweds and Britney’s Chaotic). Both starlets project the same kind of dull expression in their resting faces, whereas Madonna’s face is always poised with sharp concentration. Even though Britney and Jessica are both ostensibly executive producers of their reality excursions, as Madonna was the executive producer of Truth or Dare, there is a disarming lack of control exercised by both Britney and Jessica who are both at the mercy of their excessive entourages.
I know that parents of my generation were afraid of their daughters emulating the raw sexuality of Madonna, but I think ol’ lady Madge is a better role model for young girls that the tartlets of today are. She is a self-made woman, and not the product of a vast media empire or scheming svengali.
Okay, so I probably need more time and thought to condense this rambling into a real cohesive argument, but it’s a blog, so I get to make grand pronouncements without going through the motions of actually explaining things in depth. Hurrah! Anyway, my point remains that Madonna is a gleaming icon of independence while Jessica and Britney are sniveling, naïve little girls who deserve to be washed up on the shores of has-been land like the pieces of pop culture detritus they’ve become. Madonna could eat them for breakfast: but only if they were macrobiotic and Kabbalah approved.