Every 4th of July, when I need a break from fireworks and unironic patriotism, I re-watch the greatest commercial of the 1990s.
Yes, I’m talking about Madonna’s PSA for Rock the Vote. (In case you whippersnappers don’t remember, Rock the Vote was an MTV-supported initiative to get young people registered to vote.)
I mean, look at this thing! This is American spirit I can get behind:
This ad encapsulates Madonna’s fame in the early 90s. She made fun of everything, she seemed like she was having a good time, she surrounded herself with hot gay dudes, and she constantly talked about getting spanked.
And of course, people got pissed about this ad, just like she wanted them to. There was a predictable outrage about her use of the American flag as a flirty pashmina and about her disrespectful attitude toward the voting process. But back then, that’s how Madonna rolled. It seemed like she was pissing people off just to prove how easy it was. You always got the sense she wasn’t serious… that she was just goofing to prove a point. It was a dizzying time.
Oh, and after we’ve celebrated the kinky, silly side of American independence, let’s enjoy “Vogue,” the song that inspired this ad in the first place. Because… why not?
Mark Blankenship tweets as @IAmBlankenship. In 1999, he mailed his voter registration card from a mailbox in the middle of Disneyworld.