A L L . O P I N I O N . N O . F A C T
Madonna on the Oprah Show: Separated at Birth?

There are rumors flying about that Madonna "dissed" Oprah when appearing on Oprah's show as a guest, and even was so demanding regarding "caviar and chocolate" before the show, that she made the interviewer cry.

Well, I just watched the interview, and for the life of me I cannot figure out how anyone could have said with a straight face that Madonna "drove Oprah to tears." Throughout the entire interview, Madonna and Oprah seemed to get along famously. Both women demonstrated a tremendous amount of respect for each other, and identified -- even *bonded* on numerous experiences and emotions. In my opinion, Madonna came off as very principled. Tears did come to Oprah's eyes during the discussion of Madonna's baby, and what it meant to Madonna to be a mother -- but these tears seemed more of sentimentality than of hurt feelings. I see no basis whatsoever for the word "dis." If this was an acting job, and the friendship was contrived, then Madonna is a *far* better actress than anyone, including her fans, has ever contended.

To me, this accusation most likely is another example of they way that the tabloid (and mainstream) media loves to attack strong women. Watching two strong women bond, unite and empower themselves and each other over their independence from men appears to be too threatening to male marriage-centered observers. Too bad for them. This interview was a great show.

The following are my observations of the interview, some typed while watching the show; most typed from memory afterwards.

Madonna looked beautiful. Her sunny (natural looking) blonde hair was pulled back loosely in only one barrette over her right eyebrow, exactly the way that I used to wear my hair in first grade. Although her eyes were still brown, her teeth had returned to their gap-laden state. Her makeup was light; she wore a light green suit with a long flowing skirt and a knee-length loose swingy blazer. She shone.

Oprah must have said the word brilliant 20 times in the interview. She gushed about the movie; she ordered the audience to see it before and after each commercial break.

Some of the exchanges between the two dazzling women were both heartwarming and hilarious:

After watching clips of herself in concert, Madonna commented that she "gets tired looking at all that .... I can't believe that I did all that; that I had so much energy."

Oprah: "What is the most important thing you are going to teach your daughter?"

Madonna: "Self-respect."

Oprah: "And what are you going to teach her about men?"

Madonna: "If I teach her self-respect, I don't have to teach her about men."

Regarding Dennis Rodman's chapter on her in his book (after denying the veracity of everything said within, and insisting that she and Dennis dated only two months):

Madonna: "I don't have any respect for a man who kisses and tells. (paraphrase: Especially when he tells lies.)"

Oprah: "I hear that he wants to apologize."

Madonna: "He wants to apologize? Well, he better crawl from here to China." (huge applause).

Regarding love and marriage:

Oprah: "Is it true that Sean Penn is the love of your life?"

Madonna: "No, my daughter is the love of my life."

Madonna: "I was just wondering, when are you and steadman (sp?) getting married?"

Oprah: (laughs) "Well, about the same time that you and Carlos getting married!"

Madonna: "Right on; we should have a double wedding!"


Madonna: "Actually, I see this happening no time soon."

Oprah: "Same here!"

(The two women rise and give each other a high five, discuss how much pressure is put on women to get married; how women's social value is still determined in relation to a man."

Regarding Carlos as a father.

Madonna: "Carlos is a wonderful father. He sometimes puts the diapers on backwards, but he really cares."

Oprah: "Is he intimidated by your success ... does he feel like he is living in the shadow of Madonna?"

Madonna: "I think he knew what he was getting into when he "rang my doorbell." (huge laughs, cheers, bonding.)

Regarding her women friends:

Madonna admitted a close relationship with Rosie O'Donnell; that Rosie came over for Christmas. When Oprah asked if many people attended Madonna's house, Madonna answered: "Rosie's son; he took up the whole house. He's at that age ... gotta nail the furniture down." (laughs had by all)

Oprah: "You have said that you surround yourself with people who support you. Have you many girlfriends?

Madonna: "I have a handful of girlfriends whom I cherish."

Oprah "Were they the first ones you told when you learned that you were pregnant?"

Madonna: "The first person I told when I learned that I was pregnant was Carlos."

The most poignant, and perhaps Hallmark-Card-commercial segments of the interview happened when Oprah asked Madonna about having a child and the effect of her child on her life.

(This is all completely paraphrased from one or two hour memory, interrupted by watching Beverly Hills 90210 before typing):

Oprah asked Madonna how she felt about having a baby; stating that Madonna seemed that "she was the type of person who always knew" that she wanted a child. Madonna nodded. "Yes." Then they had a discussion about Madonna feeling her baby kick on Mother's Day (a day Madonna was usually sad over the loss of her own mother at age 5), about Madonna's overprotection of her unborn child during her pregnancy ("I thought that sleeping on my stomach would harm my baby, so I learned quickly to sleep on my side"), and her terror over working too hard, "shaking the baby around too much," before she knew she was pregnant.

Much later, Oprah commented, almost in a way of asking Madonna for advice, that she never seemed to want a child, that she lacked the patience necessary to raise a child.

Madonna: "When the baby is born, you learn that patience. It just happens. Listen, I did not thing that I would gather the patience either, but it just came. The second I looked at my daughter I knew." (This was a particularly bonding time between the two women.)

(later, after the discussion of patience, and what Madonna has learned through having her baby:)

Oprah: "When you learned that you were pregnant, were you disappointed, unhappy that it had to happen during the time when your one wish was coming true?" [in reference to the filming of Evita]

Madonna: "There could be nothing better than my two dreams coming true at the same time."

About having the baby:

Madonna: "When I look into her eyes, I see the bond between mother and daughter, the one I missed. ... I hope to give my daughter all the things that my mother could not give me."

"When I look into the eyes of my daughter, I feel myself being healed."

About the reason for the name "Lourdes" --

Madonna: "Lourdes is actually a very common name. I have many Latin friends named Lourdes. There is, actually, a small town in France named Lords (sp?), which means "village of miracles" -- because in that town, an angel appeared and presented herself to a girl; thus, miracle happened.

Oprah: "And, now, when you see your daughter, you feel yourself being healed. It is a miracle."

There was a lot of sense of humor in the interview. Madonna described a dream she had that featured both Sharon Stone and Courtney Love (and dissed neither of them; in fact, that showed a bit of admiration for Sharon (at least in the physical sense)). There was a lot of positive, teary-eyed energy from the audience and a very strong flow of good karma towards Madonna from both Madonna and the audience.

There was also a lot of softness. Madonna spoke about how she was misunderstood; in particular, how the press, the tabloid, and the individuals who commented on her seemed to forget that she was human; that, like with all celebrity, she was made larger than life, and truly she was a human, and a very sensitive human at that. She mentioned that even today, negative press hurts her feelings.

I realize that this statement, and in fact, the entire interview, may reasonably be labeled a panderous ploy for sympathy; but I don't care. I have always loved Madonna, from that moment that I saw her first video while lying on the floor at Gail's house in 7th grade, watching Friday Night Videos, through "Material Girl," "Express Yourself," and "Sex," through "Dick Tracy," "Vogue," and "Bedtime Stories," to now. I love her for none of the reasons stated by a person I decidedly do not love, Camille Paglia, and I am sometimes labeled (argh) "post-feminist" (I am *not* post-feminist, I am feminist) for loving her, but I do. And much of it is her music, for which Madonna was able to lure some of the most talented producers to work for her, and in which Madonna borrowed from traditions of disco, hip hop, Latin and pop styles, always presenting herself as a strong, independent woman who (even though she is not always sensible) speaks loudly and often.

My admiration and respect for this woman merely grows day by day; and to see her celebrating her independence and motherhood with Oprah, another history-making strong woman, was nothing short of monumental in my mind.

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Copyright 1996 Rebecca Eisenberg mars@bossanova.com. All rights reserved.