Oldie But Goodie Friday: Madonna's "Express Yourself"

by Elizabeth Thompson


One thing about growing up with cable and teenage babysitters is that, despite my parents' requests, my sister and I spent summers watching a lot of television. Like hours and hours of television --  especially MTV. Mid '80s to mid '90s music videos imprinted on to parts of our kid brains that, now that I'm older, I realize were probably meant for retaining useful information like algebra equations or world geography. One of those videos was Madonna's David Fincher-directed, Metropolis-inspired and totally triumphant "Express Yourself" video, which sticks out to me as a moment when I realized that Madonna was sort of thrilling and dirty -- beforehand, she had just seemed like some cool older teenagerish person who might drive a Cabriolet and live in a condo. I remember being scandalized (but intrigued) that she showed her breasts to the hot factory worker -- and was disgusted that he wiped his grimy hands on her satin sheets -- but was otherwise oblivious to what was provocative about this video. I was also mystified by the (oddly punctuated) ending epigraph from Metropolis: "without the heart. There can be no understanding between the hand and the mind." (But even now when I read that as an adult, I'm still like, "Oh, OK, Madonna. Sure thing.") Anyway, I'm making "Express Yourself" our music video of the day because it ranks high as a contender for one of the greatest music videos of all time AND because it's Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone's 55th birthday, today! Happy birthday MLVC! I hope you allowed yourself to enjoy an extra wheat slime pod this morning as a special b-day treat. You deserve it.

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