Hung up on Madonna

Madonna hung up

I love and hate the latest Madonna video, Hung Up, in more or less equal measures.

Why I hate it:

  1. Performance clich├ęs (couldn’t afford a good location scout?)
  2. Hip-hop meets disco milieux (!?)
  3. Incoherence (false narrative)
  4. Krumping (Madonna trope: superficial use of street fad)

Why I love it:

  1. The flashing beatbox, Dance Dance Revolution, and Chinatown dancers (best things in the video)
  2. Parkour (genuine street style)
  3. Madonna (childhood memories)
  4. Krumping (dancing talent on display)

But really I hate it, and it is only some kind of what Umberto Eco would call instant nostalgia, that stops me from vilifying it (and the fact helmer Johan Renck is normally such a class act).

The video reeks of disjoint, and of compromise (the remnants of director David LaChappelle’s involvement, with its tinges of Rize is evident).

Madonna has made it a habit of hiring great directors and coaxing out their worst work (even the Chris Cunningham directed Drowned Frozen, while one of her best videos, is one of his least impressive).

A favourite moment in the video: Stop and restart the Quicktime stream. The pixellation, the blockiness and recurring video flutter make the promo far more edgy and entertaining. I’d like to see Eclectic Method get their hands on this one, and watch how the mash-up transcends the original. This playback accident got me thinking about a Madonna visual remix project. The irony can’t be lost on anyone that such a consummately visual performer, an entertainer who has remade herself relentlessly with such success, has such a disappointing videography. All she needs is some hyper-curated motion to kick against her hyper-produced image to redeem herself.

Hung Up’s core: uncomfortably weak facsimile of Renck’s
The Knife video for Pass it On
[Via ]

johanrencktheknifepassiton 01

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Matt Hanson Written by:


  1. December 3

    chris cunningham directed Frozen.

    for all the rest, I’m totally with you.

  2. Matt.
    December 3

    Of course. Slight memory glitch. Corrected, thanks.

  3. Hylton
    February 17

    Stop with the timebound jargon already! Madonna is the instantiation of the eternal feminine!

  4. Matt.
    February 17

    That’s what I’m saying: she could do with being a bit more abstract in her videos…

  5. Hylton
    February 17

    Nice answer!

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