Madonna’s “Live-Curating” Marks All-Time Cultural Low

by Whitney Kimball and Will Brand on October 8, 2013 · 19 comments Off Our Chest

What’s wrong with curating today? Does it too heavily favor men? Does it overlook emerging artists in favor of an unassailable academic canon? Does it act too often as a vehicle for the market, or the curator’s ego?

No. What is wrong with curating today is that it does not involve Twitter and Madonna.

At 4:30 today, that will change.

Madonna’s #artforfreedom is a grant program where she’ll choose one artist per month, and donate $10,000 to a charity of his or her choosing— because, as she says in her video “Secret Project Revolution,” there’s “too much creativity being crushed beneath the wheel of corporate branding and what’s trending.” (What’s trending? #artforfreedom.)

In case because you haven’t read the press material, we’ve parsed enough of it to impart that for freedom means for press, and curating means retweeting, and art means whatever dovetails with the brand.

It’s the kind of corporate, reductive, out-of-touch logic that would make someone believe that covering Elliot Smith’s Between the Bars with hot cops speaks to any semblance of the reality of prison injustice. It’s also a fundamental misunderstanding of the word “curate,” which is more about protecting culture than picking your faves.

It’s also a fundamental misunderstanding of the word “curate”, which refers to deep historical and cultural study.

It’s also a fundamental misunderstanding of the word “curate”, which once upon a time had something to do with giving a shit.

And if you’re going to argue that this is a positive step for the mainstream addressing social injustice– stop. Filmmaker and Madonna collaborator Steven Klein says their video “Secret Project Revolution” “examines our private prisons” and “questions our governments.” Three minutes in, it’s also about being too sexy to start a revolution. “If I had black skin and an afro would you take me seriously?” Madonna asks. “Instead, I’m a woman. I’m blonde. I have tits and an ass, and an insatiable desire to be noticed.” Mix that with some contempo-looking dance, and scenes of torture and incarceration are equated with the oppression of being a star.

So it’s pretty much a mix between Aerosmith’s dystopic 1994 arcade shooter Revolution X (tagline: “Music is the weapon!”) and Lady Gaga’s prison-themed music video for Telephone. It’s not about freedom per se as much as it’s about self-love; this, she says, will be the revolution “about not giving a damn about what people say.” Because that’s what freedom of speech is!

And if you didn’t think she could twist the knife any harder, there’s this: when interviewed by VICE, who’s co-releasing the video, Madonna says she’s “attracted to [oppression].” “It inspires me,” she says. “It’s evocative.”


Matthew Lawrence October 8, 2013 at 3:24 pm

God, I hated the Telephone video so much.

♥_Даниил_♥ October 8, 2013 at 4:18 pm

of course you needed to include Gaga. Ugh. Yes, she invented prisons. Forget Madonna’s own Like a Prayer, DUH? PLUS, culture has surely hit lower points than this.

Paddy Johnson October 8, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Like a Prayer doesn’t place magic sparkle dust on everything else she’s done. And a mention of Gaga does not imply that she invented prisons.

Will Brand October 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm

My b meant to link to this:

♥_Даниил_♥ October 8, 2013 at 4:33 pm


Paddy Johnson October 8, 2013 at 4:37 pm

No kidding. I wrote about that Times piece when it came out as it reminded me of something I wrote here about curating in 2006.

♥_Даниил_♥ October 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm

then i guess this article’s whole point, which is going ‘woe is curating Madonna is in now’ is pretty much outdated no?

Paddy Johnson October 8, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Doesn’t seem like you read far enough to identify the point of the article.

♥_Даниил_♥ October 8, 2013 at 4:52 pm

I read it all. Enlighten me, then, before you resort to underestimating my intelligence. Is that what you people think discussing means?

Will Brand October 8, 2013 at 5:12 pm

uh the comments are at the very bottom how do you think he got here you dumb ass

Will Brand October 8, 2013 at 5:11 pm

aw man we’re old fashioned now but I wanted to be hip

♥_Даниил_♥ October 8, 2013 at 5:21 pm
♥_Даниил_♥ October 8, 2013 at 4:44 pm

let’s all hate on Madonna, that’s easy and it gets clicks. Even when she says that ‘oppression’ quote, that is NOT how she means it. Disqus is for discussing, right?

Paddy Johnson October 8, 2013 at 4:52 pm

No. Disqus exists so that anonymous trolls can have a forum too.

♥_Даниил_♥ October 8, 2013 at 4:53 pm

You know who I am. I signed in. Weird name choice then, 4 disqus.

♥_Даниил_♥ October 8, 2013 at 4:54 pm

NEway, you guys had to get it off your chest, so did I. LOVVVVVE

Carolina A. Miranda October 9, 2013 at 1:10 am

zomg. this just made me vomit in my mouf.

Carolina A. Miranda October 9, 2013 at 1:11 am

plus, how does donating money to some charity help artists? she’s cuckoo for cocoa puffs.

♥_Даниил_♥ October 8, 2013 at 5:19 pm

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