MTV has marked its 40th Anniversary this year bringing back delightful memories of funny haircuts, tight spandex, outrageous spectacle and of course, great pop music for lots of people born between 1960 and 1980. Yes, those three letters used to roll on the tongue of most teenagers with excitement those days: a venture few people would have bet on that has still managed to keep going, even though in different formats.
MTV has influenced music, video, and lifestyle with signature edginess and bold irreverence. A media company to which many of us, now midlifers, probably owe the best soundtrack of our life and many stars their success. One, in particular, is Madonna. No wonder why last Sunday during the music awards 2021, the surprise mistress of ceremonies was none other than her.
She arrived in classic NYC style in a yellow cab as her voiceover whispered, “Around 40 years ago, I came to New York City with nothing but $35 and a pair of dance shoes. I told the taxi driver to take me to the centre of it all. He dropped me off in Times Square. I was 19 and terrified, but it was just the first step. I knew that someday, with a lot of hard work, I’d be known not just in New York City, but all over the world – she explained-. Forty years ago, another underdog arrived in New York City, hoping to create something revolutionary: an all-music channel premiered in the middle of the night and called itself MTV. We found each other and formed a bond that changed my life, changed music, and created a whole new art form. That’s why there’s only one place to be tonight.”
Madonna then proceeded to strut on stage showing off her black leather dominatrix outfit, making people sure that MTV and those that helped make it famous are not quite done yet.
“And they said we wouldn’t last. But we’re still here, motherf*kers,” she said. “Happy 40th, MTV! Welcome to the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards.” Then she turned around to walk back into the wings, showcasing the bodysuit’s high cut backside.
Of course, her stage outfit caused quite a stir on social media with some liking it and some not too enamoured. Some reflected on the earlier days when she would be seen in this type of costume on quite a regular basis and others felt that she had possibly “grown out” of this style and should have worn something different. However, Madonna being Madonna managed to pull off exactly what she had hoped to do: get people talking and discussing, throw in some nostalgia plus get MTV back on the map.
Madonna has always challenged cultural norms and rules about behaviour, particularly rules in relation to women and how people are told they can and can’t express themselves. Whether you liked her look at the MTV awards or not, you can’t deny she always know how to surprise us. The question is not whether her outfit was appropriate for her age, but why many people doubted that she would still be going (as well as MTV) beyond her 30s?