Various cultural theories (foremost among them, postmodernism) have figured in the debate over the politics of representation. These theories have tended to look at representation in the context of either audience enablement or commercial constraint; that is, do the images empower the public or inhibit it? One key area consistently overlooked has the been the study of subcultural or subordinate groups who appropriate what is traditionally considered "mainstream." The Madonna Connection is the first book to address the complexities of race, gender, and sexuality in popular culture by using the influence of a cultural heroine to advance cultural theory. Madonna's use of various media—music, concert tour, film, and video—serves as a paradigm by which the authors study how images and symbols associated with subcultural groups (multiracial, gay and lesbian, feminist) are smuggled into the mainstream. Using a range of critical and interpretive approaches to this evolving and lively cultural phenomenon, the authors demonstrate the importance of personalities like Madonna to issues of enablement and constraint. Are "others" given voice by political interventions in mass popular culture? Or is their voice co-opted to provide mere titillation and maximum profit? What might the interplay of these views suggest? These are some of the questions the authors attempt to answer. Some celebrate Madonna's affirmation of cultural diversity. Others criticize her flagrant self-marketing strategies. And still others regard her as only a provisional challenge to the mainstream.
Introduction: Connections/Intersections -- Out of Bounds: Reading Race and Madonna's Audiences -- "A Sacred Monster in Her Prime": Audience Construction of Madonna as Low-Other -- Madonna T/Races: Music Videos Through the Prism of Color -- Images of Race & Religion in Madonna's Video Like a Prayer: Prayer & Praise -- The Sapphic Insurgent: Madonna and Gay Culture -- Embodying Subaltern Memory: Kinesthesia & the Problematics of Gender & Race -- Justify Our Love: Madonna & the Politics of Queer Sex -- Madonna's Postmodern Feminism: Bringing the Margins to the Center -- Gender Trouble: Madonna Poses the Feminist Question -- Madonna Politics: Perversion, Repression, or Subversion? Or Masks and/as Master-y -- Feminist Politics & Postmodern Seductions: Madonna & the Struggle for Political Articulation -- Seduction, Control, & the Search for Authenticity: Madonna's Truth or Dare -- Don't Go for Second Sex, Baby! -- The Political Economy of Postmodernism: Madonna as Star-Commodity -- Metatextual Girl: → patriarchy → postmodernism → power → money → Madonna -- "Material Girl": The Effacements of Postmodern Culture -- The Distance Between Me & You: Madonna & Celestial Navigation (or You Can Be My Lucky Star)