Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

Madonna Wraps Up Controversial Confessions Tour in Tokyo

Madonna Ends Tour in Tokyo without Fuss
The controversial crucifixion scene

Madonna wrapped up her controversial yet highly successful Confessions Tour on Thursday September 21 at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo. Madonna’s Confession tour has been dogged by outrage and protest from religious groups throughout the world for her crucifixion performance.

Many have felt the act blasphemous and disrespectful to Christianity. Madonna countered this by saying the performance was designed to highlight the suffering of AIDS orphans in Africa.

The tour started on May 21 in Los Angeles and went through several major U.S. cities gaining notoriety as it went before leaping over to Europe and into another hotbed of controversy. Even the Pope got involved. From Russia, her tour flew to Japan where she performed without much fuss two nights each in Osaka and Tokyo. Originally she had planned to finish the tour in Australia but was unable to do so for logistical reasons.

By the time, the Confessions tour ended, Madonna had performed 60 shows in front of over a million people on three continents. The Confessions Tour grossed $193.7 million, the highest ever for a female artist.


The huge Tokyo Dome — taken from the nosebleed section

What shocked and angered religious groups was not the belly dancing, the male-slave horseback riding, nor the hedonistic glam rock-n-roll roller-skating. It was the crucifixion scene that sent them into catatonic fits of religious fervor. During one of her sets, Madonna was slowly raised up on a mirrored cross while wearing a crown of thorns. She sang “Live to Tell” while images were shown of the African AIDS crisis and its orphans.

Religious groups comprising Jews, Christians, and Muslims voiced outrage at what they saw as sacrilegious.

Madonna recently issued a public defense of her crucifixion scene:

“I am very grateful that my show was so well received all over the world. But there seems to be many misinterpretations about my appearance on the cross and I wanted to explain it myself once and for all.“There is a segment in my show where three of my dancers ‘confess’ or share harrowing experiences from their childhood that they ultimately overcame. My ‘confession’ follows and takes place on a Crucifix that I ultimately come down from. This is not a mocking of the church. It is no different than a person wearing a Cross or ‘Taking Up the Cross’ as it says in the Bible. My performance is neither anti-Christian, sacrilegious or blasphemous. Rather, it is my plea to the audience to encourage mankind to help one another and to see the world as a unified whole. I believe in my heart that if Jesus were alive today he would be doing the same thing.

“My specific intent is to bring attention to the millions of children in Africa who are dying every day, and are living without care, without medicine and without hope. I am asking people to open their hearts and minds to get involved in whatever way they can. The song ends with a quote from the Bible’s Book of Matthew:

“‘For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you took care of me and God replied, “Whatever you did for the least of my brothers… you did it to me.”‘

“Please do not pass judgment without seeing my show.”


Madonna tries to bring peace to the Middle East via modern interpretive dancing.

Madonna even invited the Pope to attend her show.


Madonna complete with riding crop and hat to go slaveback riding.

There was little fuss made in predominately non-Christian Japan. When the mirrored cross was raised there was little in the way of excessive cheers or jeers in Tokyo. For most of the Japanese audience, it was just part of the show.


Madonna with a T-shirt endorsement of Japanese sexual prowess

With the exception of the crucifixion scene, the Confessions Tour seemed far milder than earlier tours. In the early 1990s Madonna garnered notoriety with sex-laiden acts that included topless dancers, S&M outfits, simulated masturbation, and so forth. She particularly prickled Puerto Rico by rubbing their flag in her crotch.


Madonna as a re-imagined John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever

As for moi, I was way up in the stratosphere of the Tokyo Dome somewhere in the vicinity of the orbit of the planet Venus. The ticket still cost me a whopping $90! I only went because a Japanese girl wanted to go. I was more taken by the beer girls before the show. Truly working class heroes/heroines for the common man!


My heroine!

Still it was a fun concert. And whether I like her music or not is immaterial. As with any Gen Xer, Madonna is an intricate part of my pop-culture universe. Her songs ebbied and flowed in the background of my growing up experience influencing the style and thinking of my peers. We were either consciously or sub-consciously voguing, expressing ourselves, living to tell the secret to preaching papa’s, praying to Black Jesuses on our own private Isla Bonita while justifying our love to our virginal-like lucky stars. Personally, I think she was a far sight better than those god-awful hairbands of the late 80s.


One more for the liver, baby, onegaishimasu!

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than 20 years since Madonna made her debut during the baby years of MTV. Her original teenage audience are now in their late 30s to early 40s with young teenagers many of whom listen to Madonna today. One of my students told me that she saw Madonna in concert 18 years ago in Tokyo.

The amazing thing about Madonna has been her ability to re-invent herself. And she knows how to work the media to her benefit by shocking the hell out of conservative types. Despite calls for boycotting the concert, Madonna made more money than any female artist in concert ever has before. She should send donations to the religious groups who kicked up such a fuss that created all the free publicity.

September 30, 2006 Posted by | 1980s, 1990s, Blogroll, confessions, japan, madonna, media, music concert, tokyo, TV | 1 Comment

Remembering the Scandals of the 90s or why I lost respect for the Media

A look back at the newsworthy items that American media pumped out to the masses
Coming from America, a country that is at one point news-obsessed with countless news programs on TV, newspapers, and magazines available and yet at the same time often oddly unaware of what is going on in the world, I’m used to having the news media giants dictate what is newsworthy and what isn’t. Prior to the 90s, I had little reason to question the media’s competency and objectivity. The media still seemed to possess some element of aloof professionalism. Of course, I was horribly young at the time and easily influenced.It had to be the Buttifuco scandal in the early 90s that first shook my faith in the professional media. A New England tart decided her boyfriend, a man twice her age, was worth keeping to the point of shooting his wife point blank in the head. Her aim was not as true as her love apparently as the wife survived as the story hit nationwide. For some reason this was worthy of national news. But it wasn’t just one blurb on the nightly news – spoken and soon forgotten – it became an obsession of the nation fueled by numerous follow-up reports.

Amy Fisher’s Mugshot
2006 Wikipedia

Shortly after came the infamous Bobbitt case where a young wife tired of her husband’s cheating ways, decided to releive him of his pride and joy while he slept. The conscequences of her actions rode a slurpee cup to the operation room and into the living rooms of millions of Americans. What should have been tabloid fodder became food for thought for the professional media to ponder over.

John Wayne Bobbitt briefly became an Adult Film Star after his brush with a kitchen knife
2006 Wikipedia

When that began to die off yet another scandal arose – the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding Olympic figure ice skating fiasco where Ms. Harding had decided to even the odds in her favor with a crowbar to Kerrigan’s legs. This newsworthy item dragged on to its bitter end with Ms. Harding crying pitifully to the judges over a skate whose lacing had come undone.

Tonya Harding cries over loose laces as many Americans shake heads in disgust
2006 Wikipedia

Then came the be-all grandest scandal that shook the media world to its knees. Not Somalia, not the Yugoslavia War, it was the (cue trumpets and drums) the OJ Simpson scandal – undoubtably the grandest of all scandals that dragged on and on and on and on like some B-grade horror monster that refuses to die no matter what.

When OJ Simpson’s white ford bronco hit the LA streets one warm summer evening, media moguls must have shed a tear of gratitude as their fingers speed-dialed their news offices.

OJ Simpson’s white Ford Bronco leads the LAPD on a slow chase
2006 internet

By that time I had reached a point of utter disgust and distrust of the so-called professional media. Gone seemed to be the days of the likes of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. “This is what the public wants!” was often the defense for the coverage of these stories. Perhaps, but is it what the public needs from the professional media? Let the tabloids print the tabloids.

The Jerry Springer Show
The True Media Circus without the Pretension
The Ringmaster: Jerry Springer
Wikipedia

For the astute followers of American pop-culture, they are no doubt aware that the controversial talk show: “The Springer Show,” came about in the midst of these scandals. The Springer Show hosted by former mayor of Cinnicinata, Jerry Springer, allowed trailer trash, ghetto garbage, flashing exhibitionists and theirl like to debate their differences, ie swing fists and chairs at one another while the audience chanted “Jerry! Jerry!”

Jerry Springer gave the public what it wanted but he never made the pretense that his show was anything other than a type of public circus. In the face of critics, he has even said his show is dumb. Therein, I think, lies the difference between his show and the professional media especially in regards to their coverage of similar topics. / David M Weber

The icing on the proverbial cake had to be the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky affair that followed in the wake of the OJ trial. The theater of the absurd was in full swing as an American President was nearly impeached over a completely overblown non-issue. And the professional media was there to discuss the finer details of Presidential deposits on intern dresses.

Monica Lewinsky gets a hug from President Clinton
2006 Wikipedia

Finally at the end of a long decade of tabloid scandals which were given more media attention than was possibly needed, came the debacle of the 2000 Presidential election coverage. Here was an actual newsworthy event and they bungled it royally. Before all the votes were in, FoxNews declared current President Bush the winner. Many of the other media sources fell in line save a brave few. This premature call just caused more confusion in the months that followed as the results were being sorted out.

6 years, two wars, and thousands of dead later, one wonders how different the world might have been if the professional media had just done its job and not jumped the gun so quickly.

For these reasons whenever criticism is leveled at citizen journalism, I just roll my eyes and think just how objective and professional the professional media has been in my country over the last 15 years or so as they chased one tabloid story after another. Thanks to such indepth coverage, Americans knew more about the dresses the prosecutor wore at OJ Simpson’s murder trial than they did about Rwanda and Yugoslavia.

August 6, 2006 Posted by | 1990s, Amy Fisher, Blogroll, Bobbit, Clinton, media, Monica Lewinsky, OJ Simpson, politics, scandals, Tonya Harding, TV, Uncategorized | 9 Comments