If you think about it, after yesterday’s shocking death of Michael Jackson, Madonna may be the most famous living person in the world. There are only a handful of stars left in that stratosphere. You can name presidents, Popes, Oprah. But for sheer celebrity power, it was really only Michael and Madonna atop a mountain of fame so universal it transcended borders and languages and possibly time itself. As we all know, the spectacular, strange and ultimately sad life of Michael Jackson ended yesterday. After the news broke, I couldn’t help wondering if Madonna felt lonely, if only for a moment, standing by herself on top of the world.
Their lives were intricately intertwined, yet followed sharply different paths. They were both born in the middle of America, only 13 days apart. They both rose to fame in the 80s, pioneering the age of wanting your MTV. They both sang and danced and entertained in a way no one had seen before. They both thrived on reinvention, even if one’s was less calculated and more pathological. They were both icons, in the truest sense of the word. But from there, their lives forked. The details of Michael’s spiral from fairy tale to cautionary tale don’t need to be rehashed. Whereas Madonna has been able to remain both relevant and relatively (dare I say it) normal. Well, as normal as anyone known globally by a single name who has sold 200 million albums and starred in more than a dozen major motion pictures can be.
Through her smarts, strength and savvy, Madonna has built a career that is both impressive and unparalleled. No one succeeds at that level and for that long by accident. She is unquestionably talented, but it is her staying power that truly dazzles. Quite simple, she has something that so many others lack: the will and the might to shape her own destiny. In light of this singular moment in our pop culture history, and in honor of Pride, I can’t think of a better crush this weekend. The king is dead, long live the queen. Happy weekend, all.