Madonna’s ‘MDNA’ shows rare vulnerability
JPARIS ostling for space with younger rivals like Lady Gaga, Madonna brings a grown woman’s voice to her album “MDNA,” out Monday, on which the 53-year-old Queen of Pop evokes the pain of her divorce.
Since her last album, the dance-flavored “Hard Candy” in 2008, new faces have crowded into the space long ruled by the Material Girl: Rihanna for sexiness, Lana Del Rey for edgy glamour and the ever-theatrical Lady Gaga.
So when Madonna announced she was working on a new album, the music world raised a skeptical eyebrow: Can a woman in her 50s still set the pace in a youth-driven pop world?
The first track from the album, “Give Me All Your Luvin,’ ” which Madonna performed at the Super Bowl last month, failed to win over the music press.
But critics have since given a thumbs up to Madonna’s 12th studio album, which leaked on the Internet last week ahead of its release.
“Madonna is still very much the Queen of Pop,” wrote Billboard. “Nearly 30 years after first hitting the Billboard charts with her debut single ‘ Everybody,’ Madonna is still showing the world how it’s done.”
Likewise, Britain’s Daily Mirror wrote that “Madonna’s new album shows the young pretenders she is still a force to be reckoned with.”
Madonna teamed up with a host of carefully chosen collaborators for “MDNA,” most notably M. I. A., the British hip-hop star who set tongues wagging at the Super Bowl with a brief flip of the middle finger to the cameras.
On the production side, she signed up the French DJ Martin Solveig and Italian duo Alle and Benny Benassi, masters of the dance floor hit.
The album — whose title is a play on the nightclub drug MDMA — is peppered with hedonistic dance tracks, but they share space with highly personal pieces in which Madonna alludes to her 2008 divorce from British director Guy Ritchie. Among the latter is “I Don’t Give A” where she sings that “I tried to be your wife/i diminished myself.”
And “Gang Bang,” a hard-electro that
second most famous person after soccer legend Pele. It’s made him the goto man for A-list celebrities, international statesmen and royalty seeking a quick fix to their aesthetic woes. Dr. Pitanguy’s long and illustrious patient roster is said to include such luminaries as Zsa Zsa Gabor, Francois Mitterrand and Brigitte Bardot, although the discreet doctor has rarely named names.
Dr. Pitanguy’s handicraft on the world’s rich and famous allowed him to join their ranks — he commutes to Rio by helicopter from his own private island. But he has remained attentive to the less privileged.
More than half a century ago, he founded a surgical wing to help treat the poor. While the wing at Santa Casa de Misericordia Hospital in Rio focuses on reconstructive operations for burn victims and people with serious deformations, it also provides discounted cosmetic procedures.
Other hospitals have since followed suit. Now, at least two dozen hospitals, mostly public, in Rio alone offer discounted or sometimes free cosmetic surgeries to low- income people, according to a website aimed at informing potential patients.
With more than 11.5 million operations a year, Brazil is the world’s second-biggest consumer of plastic surgery after the United States, but here there is none of the stigma that still clings to the practice in the U.S.
Local celebrities appear on the covers of glossy magazines with titles like “Plastica e Beleza,” or “Plastic [Surgery] and Beauty,” and wax poetic about their latest face-lift, breast implant or round of Botox. Actors on the prime-time soap operas that captivate the public here regularly get surgical makeovers, as do the characters they play as part of the soaps’ highdrama story lines.
Silicone, on prominent display at the beach here year round, takes center stage during Carnival, when samba queens wearing only a sprinkling of sequins and feathers flaunt their pumped-up bustlines and gravity-defying rear ends at Rio’s extravagant Sambadrome parade. (Breast and buttock implants are among the most popular plastic surgeries here, along with liposuction, face-lifts and procedures to flatten prominent ears.)
The Senate is debating whether the government’s national health service should fully cover breast reconstruction for cancer patients. The state-funded health service already pays for gastroplasties for the morbidly obese and some surgeries to repair serious deformities or injuries, including correcting cleft palates in children.
“In Brazil, plastic surgery is now seen as something of the norm,” said Alexander Edmonds, an anthropology professor at the University of Amsterdam and author of “Pretty Modern: Beauty, Sex and Plastic Surgery in Brazil.” “In a way, surgery is becoming the standard of care among middle- class and wealthy women, and so it’s not surprising that lower-class people aspire to it, too.”
While he acknowledges the potent psychological benefits that sometimes result from plastic surgery, Mr. Edmonds warns that Brazil’s overwhelmingly pro-”plastica” attitude can be dangerous.
“The word ‘beauty’ in Brazil kind of obscures the fact that you’re talking about real surgery,” he said. “The problems and risks of surgery are often minimized, and these operations tend to be seen like a ‘beautification’ like any other, which of course they’re not.”
Still, worries about risk don’t appear to be holding back many here. On the few days a year when low-income people can apply for free or cut-rate cosmetic surgeries, the lines snake out and around the hospitals. Once their cases have been approved, patients often spend months or even years on the waiting list before the actual surgery.
The free surgeries are widely seen to benefit the hospitals, too, as they allow young doctors to hone their skills.
Nilcea Furtado said she waited three years for her first free laser treatment. Though the clinic, which is also a private training institute for doctors, doesn’t perform surgical procedures that require anything more than local anesthetic, Ms. Furtado says, she’s experienced the kinds of psychological benefits described by Dr. Pitanguy.
“Since I was a teenager, I had lots of horrible hairs on my chin and I tried everything to get rid of them but nothing worked,” said Ms. Furtado, 48, a secretary whose entire monthly salary is less than a single laser hair removal treatment session. “I had heard that lasers were effective, but they’re so expensive they seemed like an impossible dream for me.”
Six free laser hair removal sessions later, Ms. Furtado’s chin is silky smooth, and she says she’s a new woman.
“I never knew what it was to look into the mirror and like what I saw,” she said. “It’s an amazing feeling.” been charged and says he shot Trayvon in self-defense.
The case brought hundreds of people together in New York with Trayvon’s parents for a protest march last week. The BET television network said it would air a special, “Shoot First: The Tragedy of Trayvon Martin,” on Monday.
Of Trayvon, Mr. Rivera said, “God bless him, he was an innocent kid, a wonderful kid.” But he said the case should be a warning to parents to watch what their children wear.
“If you dress like a hoodlum, eventually some schmuck is going to take you at your word,” he wrote in a commentary posted Friday on the website Fox News Latino.
Hundreds of people had posted messages on Mr. Rivera’s Facebook page by Friday afternoon, the overwhelming majority of them negative about his comments.
Mr. Rivera compared his own comments to those of fellow Fox analyst Juan Williams, who was fired by National Public Radio in 2010 for saying on Fox that he gets nervous when he sees people on a plane with clothing that identifies them as Muslim.
“No one black, brown or white can honestly tell me that seeing a kid of color with a hood pulled over his head doesn’t generate a certain reaction — sometimes scorn, often menace,” Mr. Rivera wrote in his commentary.
A doctor wheels a breast-implant patient out of an operating room at Santa Casa de Misericordia Hospital in Rio de Janeiro, which focuses on reconstructive surgeries for burn victims and people with serious deformities but also provides discounted cosmetic procedures for Brazil’s poor.