July 11, 2008

Eva Peron: A Madonna Role We Loved

When you're skimming foolish internet quizzes you're bound to stumble across "which Madonna era are you?". You could be Sticky and Sweet, her latest, or raw erotica, perhaps cross-burning, but wait self-sacrificial? How about anti-American, Henna-sporting, movie-making, bad girl or just plain old cowgirl? Only Madonna, the Queen of the Queers, could have more costumes than the dressing room of a drag show. With a resumé of defying custom, it is evident to me that the most audacious stunt the lady has ever pulled in her career was in her crusade to portray another great woman: Eva Peron. With much gumption, Madonna wrote a long letter to the director of Evita (Alan Parker) imploring that he let her play the role of Eva. She also submitted her 40's/50's Spanish-inspired Take a Bow video, which I have mentioned before and happens to be my favorite Madonna video. So politics have always been a form of artistic weaponry for her, but why oh why was Madonna so infatuated with the role of Eva Peron, this Argentinean woman who via marriage had such a tremendous impact on her Latin American country?

I did my research on Señora Eva and watched Evita, and sang along because I was dancing to Antonio and Madonna's songs long before I ever saw the film. And in my research I drew many similarities between Mrs. Ciccone and Mrs. Peron, if not traits of Evita that Madonna might deem enviable. Eva Peron was a rebel who could not bear to see the upper class of Buenos Aires flourish while the poor existed. She was also the first woman in Argentina to wear trousers in the spotlight! Throughout the film Evita is dazzling in her 40's style tea party and swing dresses of puff-sleeves, floral prints, of silk and chiffon. She had pencil thin eyebrows, deep cherry lips and nails. She wore beautiful furs and men showered her with gifts. "Dress, voice, style, movement, hands, magic, rings, glamor, face, diamonds, excitement, image," they sing in "Rainbow High". Eva Peron was known to be particularly fond of Christian Dior.

Yet Europe apparently humbled her style a bit, and after her "Rainbow" tour abroad, she began to ditch her fancy pinned curls and hats to wear her hair pulled back; instead of dresses she opted for haute couture dress suits. Oh Europe, how you've done the same to our Madonna-it's just that America is a little too over the top for a lady to handle whilst being put under a microscope. See one cannot forget that Eva Peron was a radio-show actress, she was a star, she loved glamor, and she loved her voice. This is not to discredit her, but to say that with every Madonna personality (so few come around..) it is hard to differentiate the ultimate goal of that herculean heart. In the film, Evita referred to politics as "the art of the possible." Is not campaigning for change in a way a manipulation of the public into her romanticized personality cult? The men argue that "statesmanship is more than entertaining peasants." But the lady wins.

Madonna, now questionably going through her second divorce, will not relinquish her throne. The public humbled Eva, just as they fueled her. For Madonna, Eva Peron was simply a role that she innately could relate to. She has too much attitude to be humbled by the public, however. Even having children didn't seem to do the trick. I like Evita, because you can always go back and remember when she was vulnerable. I came across Marianismo, a latin term which describes the cult of feminine superiority. It recognizes a spiritual strength in women, a divine purity that does not exist in men. A virgin madonna, if you will. Eva Peron, once given the title "Spiritual Leader of the Nation," was perhaps seen by Madonna as an indefinite source of female dynamism. The marriage of a passionate female heart and a political podium to spin monologues-in garbs of Dior or Gautier for Madonna's sake-is their forte. It was said that on the day of the death of Eva Peron, all the flower shops in Buenos Aires had to close because they sold out of flowers. Madonna, you had better shape up if you want that kind of treatment.

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