Friday Firesmith – When Madonna Was No Longer Like a Virgin

Despite her latest album taking all top ten spots on Billboard’s Top One Hundred when it came out, and despite the 92 million dollars her tour in support of that album is projected to earn, and despite the fact Taylor Swift is the only female performer on Forbes Top Ten Richest Entertainers of the Year, Taylor Swift is getting old. 

There is certainly some burn out involved. Swift has become as ubiquitous as cell phones or arguments about politics. 

But I remember when Madonna was burning up the charts, selling out stadiums, and all the while, even as she was one of the most successful artists of the 1980’s, people were talking about, of all things, her age. 

Bruce Springsteen, nine years older than Madonna, was rocking MTV about the same time as Madonna but it wasn’t until recently, when he started to resemble Woody Allen, people realized Bruce was aging. But the reaction was not one of disdain, or cruel mocking, no. People reacted because it made them realize they were getting older, too. 

Not so, with women who are aging. 

Madonna’s last number one hit was in 2000, when she was 42. Compare this to Serena Williams, who has now retired at the age of 40. Williams retired because the pull of her family affected her game, and rightfully so, she stepped away from the game. 

When was the last time you heard of a man doing that, at any age? Tom Brady at 45 abandoned his wife and kids after promising to retire last season. 

Most of the rock music acts you see on their Geritol Tours, like the Rolling Stones, and what’s left of the 70’s dinosaurs, are in their 70’s and 80’s now. But they’re still selling out venues even though no one believes they are still doing all the singing and playing themselves. It doesn’t matter with men. They have the respect of their fans no matter how much they looked their age. 

Madonna had some work done and it went poorly. It should have at her age, but at her age, she still had to fight to look anything but old. The burden exists for women that will never exist for men. 

The British tabloid press crucified Madonna for getting older, and for being a mother. They called her “Madge” because she looked like a middle aged housewife. Keith Richards became an internet meme because of how rough he looks, but you never heard anyone disparage his talent during all of this. They spoke of how he would outlast us all, not that he was finished fifty years ago. 

Swift sees this coming and has said so. At thirty-two, even as she fills seats and takes over the airwaves, there are signs she isn’t a kid anymore. She’s a full grown woman on the other side of 30, and it is a matter of time before she slips in some way, and it will be because of her age, and nothing else. Her looks define her more than anything else, and no matter how long she hangs on, the world is run by men with money, who like young women. Can Swift change this? It’s like a prayer. 

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.