Is there anything more embarrassing than being Madonna’s 15-year-old son? Last week, the Material Girl made news when her son Rocco Ritchie decided he’d rather stay with his father in London than hang out with his mother for the holidays. Madonna and director Guy Ritchie divorced in 2008 after eight years of marriage. Their younger son is ten and Madonna has two other children. A judge has ordered Rocco back to New York for a custody hearing in February.
The children have been dragged around the world for their mother’s tours. And while they no doubt live in the lap of luxury, it is easy to imagine why Rocco has had enough. Describing the opening act of her Rebel Heart Tour, Jon Pareles of the New York Times writes:
She tossed off a jacket to reveal a sweat-soaked blouse, and traded heartache for triumph with the first words—“I made it through the wilderness”—of “Like a Virgin.” She pranced and strutted through it with some moves from her 1980s videos and opened the blouse to reveal lingerie and cleavage. The lesson: Madonna the indomitable sexpot would prevail.
What teenage boy wants to live with an “indomitable sexpot”? Of course kids of a certain age realize that their parents have a past. That their past might have involved sexual activity, even sexual activity beyond that required to produce offspring. In our current age, of course, it is likely that children of celebrities, minor celebrities, and even non-celebrities will be faced with photographic and video evidence of their parents’ poor behavior. All you need is access to the Facebook timelines of your family members and chances are you will find out far more than you ever wanted to know.
But when your mother is 57 years old, maybe it’s time for her to hang up the lingerie. Critics have said this about Madonna for years. “Too old for hotpants? Madonna’s butt hangs out on stage,” read one recent headline. But that didn’t stop her from actually mooning fans on the Grammy red carpet earlier this year. Her musical act didn’t leave much more to the imagination, with one move wrapping her legs around the head of one male dancer in some kind of choreographic bull-fighting extravaganza.
Obviously she has no shame. But more amazingly the singer has actually been posting awkward pictures of Rocco online. Observers say this may have been the last straw for the teen. In an interview in August, Madonna said that Rocco wanted to work backstage instead of perform with his mother onstage because, she said, “your mom is not cool” at his age.
The problem is not that his mom is not cool. The problem is that teenage boys do not want their mothers to be cool, at least not this way. They want their mothers to act like mothers. They don’t need to be home baking cookies and doing laundry but they can’t be dancing in lingerie matador costumes on national television while muscle men in horns are running at them.
If you were Rocco, you’d want to be with your father too.