A Pop Culture Icon Turns 50

John ArmstrongCulture

Madonna, the original material girl, turns 50 this month. She has successfully scandalized the Vatican, shocked nearly every moral value held by ordinary people, yet remade herself enough times to stay on the front edge of pop culture. She is, if anything at all, a master at marketing and image. And in an age of marketing and image she has made a ton of money in the process.

The tabloids love her. Was she involved with Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees? How true is her brother’s new tell-all book about her? My answer is: "Who cares?" But she just keeps on doing it. She kicked off a new tour in Wales this past week. A 55-year old mother of two told AP, "I just think she’s awesome." Apparently a lot of folks my age agree, as do a whole new younger generation. The same woman who I quoted above adds, "Here’s a woman that’s successful, takes care of herself, looks amazing—and she took the steps to get there. It doesn’t happen unless you take charge. She’s a great role model for many, many women"

I am not sure how many people agree with this attitude but I am quite sure there are more than just a few. For them Madonna is not just a celebrity but a real role model. And she is turning 50 on a high. For people who are boomers this is important since life has been mostly about them for thirty years now.

Celebrities like Michael Jackson, Ellen DeGeneres, Sharon Stone, Christiane Amanpour, Alec Baldwin, Andie McDowell, Viggo Mortensen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Candace Bushnell, Michelle Pfeiffer, Annette Bening, Kevin Bacon and Prince Albert of Monaco all turn fifty in 2008 too.

The editor of Men’s Health magazine, who is in his 30s, says Madonna is an inspiration to younger men as well. Her first younger fans are now in their thirties and she makes the "future look pretty good for us" says the young editor. He even calls her an "inspiration."

Pop culture is powerful. Make no mistake about it. Those who trash it may be intellectually bright but they are unwise to think that many people are not impacted by these stars. People look for role models and pop cultural ones will do just fine for multitudes of people that are otherwise pretty ordinary folks.

But someday Madonna will die, like you and me. The Bible says that what follows is the judgment. Fame and pop-star status will mean nothing then. I pray Madonna might come to know that sooner than later. She has already spent 50 years living for something that will not survive in the last day. One can, and should, pray that she, and multitudes like her, will be awakened spiritually before it is too late.