Last night’s Costume Institute Gala, also known as the Met Ball, was built around the theme “Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology.” This was slightly more interesting than last year’s theme of “Get Nekkid.” Attendees, who raise money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, are expected to wear outfits that match the theme. In practice, most people thought that fashion in the age of technology meant dressing like a robot with dark lipstick, or, for some reason I’m still trying to decipher, dressing like a big, beautiful bird.
Some people looked amazing. Mostly Idris Elba, because he always looks amazing. And others … struggled.
Take Madonna. I like Madonna. I just bought a 12″ of her 1989 hit “Like A Prayer” at a yard sale the other day. And the song seems relevant to what we’re about to discuss as “the popularity and the media mayhem surrounding the song and the music video helped introduce a very important factor in the celebrity world: the reception of free publicity.”
Madonna is very good at getting free publicity and always has been. Good for her. Last night she did that by wearing this abortion of a dress:
Tom + Lorenzo® (@tomandlorenzo) May 3, 2016
Madonna is wearing more outré clothing at age 57 then she did when she shocked audiences in the “Like A Prayer” era. The buttless pants are bad. They’re derivative and showcase a less sexy rear than Prince did when he beat Madonna to the fashion punch in 1991. Twenty-five long years ago. And they were both born in 1958. Ooh, do you think Madonna was going for a Prince tribute with the assless chaps? (Warning: this performance at the MTV awards is the dirtiest thing I’ve ever seen.) If it were a tribute, that would be kind of funny.
Anywho, the fanny distracts from the derivative-of-Janet-Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction from the 2004 Superbowl. The breasts with black tape over the nips? Oh, honey.
If you see the responses to this outfit on the Tom & Lorenzo tweet embedded above, they range from “Seriously, my gay boss rocked that look in the Halifax Pride Parade 20 yrs ago. Yawn” to “I’m terrified.”
Stephen Miller made a funny about the ensemblech:
Madonna with necklace. Madonna without necklace pic.twitter.com/N58ulGJBIg
Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) May 3, 2016
Which is when things got weird. A woman named Lea Goldman, an executive editor at Marie Claire magazine, had this to say in response:
This is what men do to women with power. Shame them. About their bodies and their ages. I see you. https://t.co/5SFndkSiua
Lea Goldman (@lea) May 3, 2016
As we all know, had the same-aged Robert Smith, lead singer of The Cure, shown up with his heinie exposed and lifted by straps, no one would have uttered a word. Men wear pants with holes cut out for the cheeks every day and nobody says a word, right? Actually, no, Ms. Goldman. Wearing assless chaps is always ridiculous, whether you’re Prince at age 30 or Madonna at age 57. But there is something even more ridiculous and, frankly, sad about it as you age.
Our feminist hero who tried to get a mob to go against Stephen Miller on account of his joke about Madonna, doesn’t seem to be a very good feminist hero, alas. Jimmy Princeton began finding a bunch of tweets from Goldman that showed the executive editor of Marie Claire has no problem shaming random powerless women she encounters during her day. Take this example:
I feel bad for these pants. pic.twitter.com/paXgek95Os
Lea Goldman (@lea) April 7, 2013
I guess that’s what feminists do to powerless women. Shame them. About their bodies. We see you, Lea.
Jimmy had a few more examples of Goldman’s inconsistency:
Jimmy (@JimmyPrinceton) May 3, 2016
Maybe the editor of a fashion magazine obsessed with celebrity appearances shouldn’t be in the business of telling other people not to make jokes about the same. Maybe when that editor has little compunction about shaming celebrities and random people on the street about their appearance, she shouldn’t tell other people not to make jokes about Madonna.
But even if Goldman weren’t the editor of one of the fashion magazines that does so much to lower female self-esteem, and even if she weren’t personally so mean about people’s appearance, the fact remains that there is nothing wrong with telling Madonna that folks in the grandparent cohort should probably go ahead and cover their bums. Part of this is because we all should cover our bums. But this goes double for the Baby Boomers, such as Madonna. They’re not quite old enough to get special provisions that we give older people who disrobe because they don’t care or because they’re dealing with the mental effects of aging. But they’re a good two generations past the point where naked bums are socially acceptable. If Madonna wants to do it anyway, that’s her business. And it is her business, if you know what I’m saying (and I think you do). But it’s the business of sane people to make jokes about it.