There was, after all, some sniggering before the game about how She Of The Cone Bras of Yore was going to comport herself on stage, at the ripe age of 53. We grant far more leeway to aging male rockers, mostly laugh when Steven Tyler gawks at “American Idol” contestants who are young enough to be his granddaughters. We’re more skeptical when female stars — dancers and erstwhile sex symbols — want to keep doing what they’ve always done.
But in her halftime show, Madge didn’t comport herself like a relic trying to act 30 years younger than she is. She paid tribute to her oldies. (Yes, gulp, oldies. “Open Your Heart” was released in 1986.) She presented some new material (not as good as “Like a Prayer,” but that’s always the way). She danced precisely as well as she needed to. She looked like she was having a ball.
I’m already looking forward to Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl appearance in 2052. In the meantime, Madonna has shown younger fans where Gaga got her ideas; she’s the original model for the female pop star as brilliant master of self-invention. And, in her elder-stateswoman role, she’s sent a message on behalf of women everywhere. Aging gracefully can, when required, involve doing cartwheels.
Christopher Polk/Getty Images: Madonna performs during the Super Bowl halftime show.