While watching VH1, the commercials began and one in particular caught my attention: the current GAP Jeans campaign that utilizes Madonna's 1985 song, "Dress You Up" as backdrop for a monotonous vertical rolling of cargo/military dressed teenagers singing the chorus, out-of-tune and without feeling. These genderless persons seem indifferent to the decadence that is the entire meaning of the song.
"Gonna dress you up in my love, in my love; all over your body." As with any song or video or movie by or starring Madonna, I can remember, over a decade ago, how I was completely mesmerized by the image of her performing that song live, on The Virgin Tour, before thousands of fans in the stadium and via MTV. Being an impressionable yet intelligent teenager at the time, I was convinced that the power of appearance, attitude and stamina were the ingredients for control and dominance in the world. The power of the Image is all important, the image being the vehicle by which Westerners communicate. On a darkened stage, Madonna descends the staircase, dressed in her trademark,(at the time), layers of fashionable clothes, bangles and crosses; heavy in makeup, Madonna had the appearance that captured a generation's attention that remained loyal throughout the years.
The timelessness of American pop-culture is fascinating, it seers images in our minds/memories, shapes the way we look at ourselves and transforms the cultural and political landscape. Now, in 1999, we have re-interpreted the meaning of decadence to mean security in sameness as long as the sameness is mass produced in a highly polished, well-planned and hip manner that will capture the interest of the next generations of teenagers who will develop into genderless persons, caring less about true decadence on the one hand but desiring to obtain more than a reasonable quantity on the other. As fashionless and uniform as the younger generations are becoming, we are beginning to realize that there is no meaning within their development; it is conveyer-belt sensibility, out-of-tune with the history and progress of American pop-culture.
10 August 1999