age your act

It began Saturday morning.

The male host of a local radio show enthused that he would be spending his Saturday night emceeing a women-focused event. Asked on-air by one of that event’s organizers whether he was looking forward to it, said host enthused: “Three hundred and seventy-five women? I won’t complain. I won’t complain.”

It was, after all, the eve of the one day of the year devoted to celebrating accomplishments of and discussing challenges faced by half the world’s population. Our host was merely trying to prove that he appreciates women. The more women, the better.

It was, in its way, the perfect kickoff for a week that reached its nadir with our prime minister making clear once and for all what women should and should not wear in public.

Yes, perhaps more than a single day is in order.

Meanwhile, to the surprise of many, CBC Radio announced the new host of Q will not be a woman. Those of us who believed the show should have been pulled from the schedule along with its host and co-creator, viewed a female replacement as the program’s only possible salvation. The moment the announcement was made of a new Q star, CBC’s myth-making department went into overdrive. Here’s hoping Shad has no skeletons in his closet. I do wish him well, but that’s one mighty sordid past from which he has to distance his show.

Somewhere in the middle of it all this week was the world leader known as Madonna.

Not for the first time.

For decades, people have been quick to tell Madonna what she should and should not wear, as well as what she should and should not say. Just ask Chris Richards, whose Washington Post review of the artist’s new album took her to task for daring to try to court the youth vote. It was published the moment International Women’s Day ended.

“An aging pop star trying desperately to stay hip,” Richards calls the 56-year-old. Actually, he did not express it in those words; that phrase is from the headline attached to a reprint of the review that appeared a day later in our local paper. (For the benefit of Madonna-haters denied access to the internet Monday.)

Reviewers have decried Madonna’s young-at-heart stance since at least 2000’s Music. Oh that Madonna, always searching for new, hip sounds. When is she going to act her age?

That she insists on defying them — that she may indeed be acting her age, given that she is Ma-freakin’-donna — is increasingly becoming a sore point.

Of course, those same critics are, I’m sure, keeping the likes of AC/DC in check. Right?

Wrong. In its review of the band’s latest album, Rolling Stone praised singer Brian Johnson, 67, for the sentiment, “Mistress, mistress, all night long/Keep on comin’ hot and strong.”

“Yowling like a young lech,” are the envious words used to describe the senior rocker’s performance.

As for Madonna contemporary Prince’s latest, with all its nudge-nudge references to staring down muffins and enjoying “hotcakes smothered in honey,” critics have lavished praise on a return to form. That old lech, he’s still got it!

In fairness, the spectre of ageism has been denounced in many a review of Madonna’s Rebel Heart. Heck, even the Post review alludes to it, even as Richards casts the performer out for daring to boast of partying hard, getting high and blocking a “boy-toy” (his term, not hers) on her phone. Oh, for the Madonna of, say, Papa Don’t Preach, eh? That icon was but 28 when she sang a convincing tale of being a teen in trouble deep.

“Thinking young and growing older is no sin,” Dusty Springfield (via Goffin/King) suggested when Madonna was only eight years old (and presumably not trying to pass for five). If you’re Vince Neil, Brian Johnson or Prince, maybe so. But Madonna? Come on, Mom! Mick Jagger, you ain’t.

Not that I am completely comfortable with Madonna’s choices for Rebel Heart. I cannot, for instance, condone her decision to allow Mike Tyson to be a part of the proceedings. Tyson, Richards reminds readers in his review, is a “boxing legend.” Funny, I can think of another way to describe him.

But then, International Women’s Day is over. Ask me about it this time next year.

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