When Madonna Met Wayne And Garth On Saturday Night Live, The Whole World Went Schwing
Remember how big Garth's unit was?
You could write six or seven graduate theses about Madonna's 1991 appearance in a Wayne's World sketch on Saturday Night Live. From a cultural standpoint, there's a lot happening here!
Right off the bat, you've got Madonna at the peak of her ability to piss off the entire culture with her frank sexuality. How dare a woman be so unapologetically aggressive about her libido! Why, that's what we expect from a man, not his submissive wife! And is she even married?!?!
All of that stuff is being flaunted here. The whole sketch is a riff on the "Justify My Love" video, which was itself a firestorm of controversy. Remember how insane that was? I was only 12, so I didn't see the video at the time, but my imagination still caught fire. What could she possible be doing? Licking things? Looking at men without their shirts on? (Since it's 2016, you can also watch the original video that started all this. Just don't go back in time and tell my mom, or I will be in trouble.)
But as she has done so often over the years, Madonna used humor to take control of the controversy. Nothing says "Get over it, dweebs" like restaging the video so that Garth has a giant "unit." She gets to have her sex whip and crack it too: making the controversial video and also mocking people who think it's controversial.
It's also perfect for Wayne and Garth to be sucked into this realm. It's a nice comment on sexual dynamics that Madonna lets the young men desire her without ever desiring them. She uses them, is amused by them, and then freaks Garth out with her world of leather and Prince lookalikes. Sorry, dudes! In this fantasy, your erection isn't magical enough for you to run the show. (Think how different this is from the Wayne's World movie, where the guys are the same jovial dorks, but the women they desire nevertheless fall for them, want them, move in slo-mo for them. Tia Carrere never gets to taste Madonna's power.) (Which, I realize, is a sentence we've all written twenty times this week.)
But it's not all post-feminist theory! Another reason this video works is because it's actually funny. The Prince joke is awesome, for instance, and in light of Madge's recent, Prince-related shade war with BET, it still feels current. Then there's the look on Dana Carvey's face when he's turning into Sergeant Super Schlong:
Tell me you wouldn't crack up if that came at you in the bedroom.
So! Even though "Justify My Love" is one of my least-favorite Madonna singles -- and trust me, I've ranked them all -- this parody makes me glad it exists.