Madonna at her peak with 1989’s “Express Yourself”

Today is Madonna‘s birthday (born 1959).

This entire video is starkly based (as much of the best popular culture is) upon the archetypes of descent (or katabasis) and ascent.  Here’s Frye on katabasis in Frye Unbuttoned:

To descend is to pass through the chattering, yelling, gibbering world of the demons of repression to the quiet spirit below.  As Eliot says, contradicting the Sybill, it not easy to go all the way down.  To reascend is to bind the squalling demons into a unified creative power. (157)

Madonna, in this instance, seems to be cavorting at the top of the chain of being and undermining male authority with her unabashed sexuality, while also waiting for a beleaguered lover to find his way up to her, leaving a hellish world of darkness and violence behind.  Note that the declared intent of the song is not merely to encourage women to express themselves, but to insist that men do the same in order to secure a fully requited love.  This video arguably marks the dawn of Third Wave feminism as a force in popular culture: sex positive and confidently empowered.

I couldn’t find the identical video with the superior electronic remix of the song, but you can listen to it after the jump.


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3 thoughts on “Madonna

  1. Michael Happy Post author

    Great band, great song–possibly one of the greatest 30 second songs ever written. So poignant. (Not being ironic.) Thanks Perfesser!


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