It started with the MDNA Tour. The snapshot of life around the world finally got to Madonna. It enraged her to see what was happening to people and, furthermore, to see them so apathetic about it. And so, the #secretprojectrevolution was born. Madonna, who insists on being taken seriously (as if we wouldn’t), brings up the point that if she were an ethnic militant, people would be more likely to answer her call to action. But no, she's just a white blonde woman with a dream. In her seventeen minute, four second film, Madonna urges us, through the movements of dance and through the fervor of her words, to not sit idly back in apathy any longer.
As Madonna reminds us through Jean-Luc Godard’s philosophy of filmmaking, “All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun.” And so, #secretprojectrevolution showcases girls and guns in spades. At one point in the film, Madonna alludes to the fact that men just want women to “show us your ass.” She says, sure, but I’m going to say something while I do it. In many ways, this is the essence of Madonna’s brilliance—not just with this film, but in general. The message she wants to convey is always done through an engaging medium. Her lust to wake people up (a term she also used in 2005’s I’m Going To Tell You A Secret) was invigorated by observing the current state of American culture. She asserts, “Yeah, that’s right. I saw a lack of desire like a plague, putting everyone into a kind of trance.”
And it’s true, quite a few alarming incidents occurred during the time Madonna was on tour: Malala Yousafzai was shot for her advocacy of girls’ education in Pakistan, Marine Le Pen expressed outrage over being portrayed in Madonna’s show with a swastika over her head, Putin imprisoned Pussy Riot and Mitt Romney was nearly elected. What this all spelled for Madonna was outrage. While she was in Buenos Aires at the end of her tour awaiting Steven Klein to do a photoshoot for her Truth or Dare lingerie, the singer received word that the distributing deal was off because the lingerie was too racy. Not one to let any artistic resources go to waste, Madonna decided to channel her current frustrations through filming the raw material for what would later turn out to be #secretprojectrevolution.
After watching “too much creativity being crushed by the wheel of corporate branding and trending,” it was easy to see that oppression doesn’t just happen in Third World countries, but right here in the United States—a fact made clear as Madonna sings an eerie version of “Land of the Free” at varying moments in the film. Dancers from the MDNA Tour contort and writhe in various fashions (undoubtedly a subtle homage to Martha Graham) to let their inner demons out in the only way they know how: Through creativity. When this basic human right is stripped, it's much easier to cultivate a hostile environment under a regime of fear.
At the premiere for the film in New York (September 24th), Madonna appropriately chose to do a cover of Elliott Smith's "Between the Bars." Her passion and sorrow is evident in the performance, ultimately leading up to the debut of #secretprojectrevolution--a film that, hopefully, others will see as a moving and stirring exhortation to stop languishing and start caring. For more information regarding the project and to see the complete film, visit artforfreedom.com.