Spirituality invariably reveals the true nature of famous people: they're basically very ordinary people in an extraordinary situation, ie. insane levels of wealth and fame. Very few of them are smarter than the average bear, and even seem more prone than us mortals to flirting with weird religions - probably because
noone dares criticise their latest fluff-for-brains attempt to 'get' spirituality.
And thus is it with Madonna and the Kabbalah, a mystical (ie. weirder) branch of Judaism that features nonsense like wearing a string round your wrist to ward off the evil eye. How crap is Evil? 'I was going to be really evil today, but then I saw a piece of string and got scared.' Evil? Feeble, more likely.
Unfortunately for Maddy, her latest attempt to be deep got her into trouble this week when orthodox Jews attacked her flirtation with the Kabbalah, saying she has debased Judaism's deepest mystical tradition. And it's hard to disagree with them. Debasing things is very much Madonna's forte.
There's a horrible shallowness to Madonna. She's the archetypal not-very-bright wannabe intellectual, the sort of dim-bulb who thinks that a few Mondrian postcards on their fridge makes them an art lover. She probably thinks owning a couple of turgid, unread Henry Miller novels makes her an intellectual. For some
reason she's reminiscent of the stoopid Kevin Kline character in A Fish Called Wanda. Denying that he's got the intellect of a monkey, he says 'Do monkeys read books?' 'Yes,' replies Jamie Lee Curtis, 'But they don't understand them.'
And thus it is with the Kabbalah - mystical twaddle that's somehow fashionable because it's not a mainstream religion. Let's face it, all this mystical/New Age shite is interchangeable. It's all got essentially the same message: respect yourself and others, and nature, be good, find inner peace by keeping a sense
of perspective about what's important and what isn't. Have a bit of humility, use meditation or ritual to relax, take time to work out what's important to you... none of these messages are bad, but you don't need the mystical wank to understand them.
And most New Age religions are essentially egocentric: it's me, me, me. Where do I fit in? How do I find peace and happiness? How can I be fulfilled? How can I self-actualise? What knowledge can I gain that others can't? How can I be deeper than all these shallow un-spiritual people around me?
Which is a bit rich coming from Madonna, who does almost everything with an eye firmly on the cash register, not least her endless attempts to shock.
Satirists like Chris Morris shock for a purpose, people like John Lydon do it for the sheer joyous hell of it. Even Roy Chubby Brown seems to shock because he's got a certain affinity with his audience of tubby imbeciles. All these people make money by shocking, but not in the totally transparent way that Madonna
Take Madonna's supposed run-ins with the Catholic church. Madonna never really criticised the Catholic church, all she did was get a bit of cheap publicity by misappropriating Catholic imagery. In any case, the Catholic church is an easy, if deserving, target.
It's hard to get into too much trouble by offending a bunch of pompous, backward-looking old celibates in Rome. You or I could offend the Catholic church at the drop of hat if we wanted to. The Pope's a baldie twat. There you go. We've just done it. Cheque please.
Then there was the Sex book. Madonna thought there was something artistic, and quite possibly intellectual, about 'exploring sexuality'. However, Madonna isn't prepared to explore her sexuality in the privacy of her own bedroom. She prefers to explore it in the medium of a money-raking, best-selling, porno- lite coffee table jazz publication that makes Razzle look like a brave and honest artistic endeavour. But as with everything Madonna has done, there's a kind of crap insincerity about it. Take Maddy's fixation with lesbian imagery (as opposed to lesbianism). Is she really a sexual adventurer, or is she only interested in sexuality if it translates into $$$s?
Similarly, Madonna's allegedly 'anti-war' single seemed to owe more to a hunger for publicity than pacifism, but as soon as she realised her vague, incoherent platitudes could damage her earning power, she backtracked rapidly. Years earlier, she'd flirted with 80s materialism in Material Girl and unmarried mum-hood in Papa Don't Preach in exactly the same flighty way. She's a kind of controversy hyena, picking a few dollars off an issue before sloping off to feed on something else.
And her latest meal of rotten scraps is the Kabbalah. If Madonna genuinely wanted to find spiritual satisfaction, she could save herself a lot of time by using some of her millions to just help other people. Set up a free burger van for the homeless. They'd be eternally grateful and you could feel really good about
But where's the financial return in that?