The rise and (perceived) decline of Madonna has gone, so to say, hand-in-hand with that of postmodern theory – slightly démodé just at present, but none the less pervasively influential for that. The singer's two most recent albums were critical successes, and the controversy in Argentina over the choice of the star to play Eva Peron testifies to her continuing capacity to attract notoriety. But in what does that notoriety consist? How is the persona that is all we know of Madonna constructed, and how does it work? How is she able to make such distinctive use of the emergent potential of multimedia? What constitutes the coherence of Madonna's image? Mark Watts, a graduate in Film and Literature of the University of Warwick, here analyzes the appeal of the singer-actress in terms of the concept of punctum, defined by Barthes (in opposition to the rational, linear understanding of studium) as the ‘electrifying fragment’ that seizes and ravishes the imagination.
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