At least the cheerleader theme in "Give Me All Your Luvin'" was new visual territory for Madonna, if not a bit influenced by her contemporaries. The same can't be said for the video to "Girl Gone Wild," Madonna's second single from M.D.N.A., her twelfth album. Watching the clip is like watching Madge in the straight-to-DVD, low-budget sequel to Lady Gaga's "Alejandro." It has interesting visuals -- "interesting" being a relative term here - but there is so much more that could have been done with the concept of Madonna writhing around with a bunch of scantily clad, seemingly gay, men.
Here's the thing: It's considerably difficult to believe Madonna is the girl that has gone wild. Instead, from the clip, we are left to believe that she is the girl that was once wild and is now going through old photos of herself -- perhaps those contained in her infamous sex book of the 90s -- and looking back with nostalgia.
Here you have Madonna, from opening shot to final shot, looking much like she did for the "Vogue" video. But where Madonna was the sexy standout among her dancers in "Vogue," she is outsexed by similar dancers, with less clothes, in the "Girl Gone Wild." Take her hair, strikingly white, and affix it before a black and white scene in a stark contrast. Then, pepper in some costume elements from "Give Me All Your Luvin'" -- most notably the cheerleader kneepads -- for visual cohesion between videos from the same album. Next, add in some clips of Madonna dancing along the walls in what should become her trademark Sexy Wall Lean move, first introduced in the "Celebration" video.
Finally, top off this career-spanning reduction with men near ready to kiss other men, interspersed with Madonna looking like she's in control of the entire scenario. And what do you have? You have Madonna playing it safe. Now why Madonna would want to play it safe for a single that has so much riding on it seems very strange. "Give Me All Your Luvin'" essentially flopped on the charts, so "Girl Gone Wild" was rush-released.
However, the video didn't have to be. Instead of being the incomplete visual that it is, "Girl Gone Wild" should have explored two concepts to their extremes. These two concepts are, of course, the two ripped directly from the pages of the Bible, albeit the Madonna-fied Bible: The male model bearing a crown of thorns -- in reference to Jesus himself -- and two other male models eating from an apple, the most Adam and Steve moment in all of pop music video history thus far.
To behave as Madonna would, one must behave controversially. "Girl Gone Wild" fails in the collection of Madonna music videos for that very reason: All of the potential for controversy -- and there is potential, mind you -- is abandoned for a sexy appeal to her most devout fan-base, the club-going gays, to whom this video (and song) is directed, unapologetically to guarantee its success.
Interestingly, that's where it fails. Madonna dancing against a wall, or touching some near-naked men, is a far cry from controversy. If Madonna's going to sell sex, she should do it herself. The only balls that should ever appear in a Madonna video are hers; too bad she left them somewhere in 1992.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music