Roseanne Barr and Madonna Louise Ciccone (a.k.a. the pop star “Madonna”) have been two outspoken feminist and ‘postfeminist’ figures from the 1980s-present. At first blush, there does not appear to be a great symmetry between the pair – however there is actually a very strong parallel in their social networks and plausibly ‘communistic’ social activism as women artists.
While it is no surprise that feminists will often adopt leftist or Marxist critiques of power which emphasize the disruption of patriarchal gender norms – it is interesting to note that both Roseanne and Madonna have currently adopted post-Soviet narratives regarding politics and the occult which are connected to modern Russian Information Warfare, underpinned by (apparently) past and present ‘communistic’ influences. This may give the social ‘performances’ of Americans Roseanne and Madonna strategic value to Russia parallel to the work of anti-establishment postmodern Russian groups like Voina (War) and Pussy Riot.
The Bernhard-Ciccone-Barr Axis
Perhaps most notably, Roseanne’s disgraceful and crotch-grabbing performance of the US national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner” in 1990 was defended at the time by Madonna.
But this defense should probably be seen as consistent with their social networks. Madonna was around this time close friends with Sandra Bernhard, who was shattering gender and sexual identity norms with her postfeminist comedy; and joined the cast of Barr’s television show Roseanne in 1991. While Bernhard’s character’s (“Nancy”) non-traditional sexuality had already been explored on the show, it was for example in a 1994 episode of Roseanne entitled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, which included a controversial prime time TV ‘lesbian kiss’ between Barr and Muriel Hemingway (granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway); taking place in a gay bar with the Nancy character present.
In the early 1990’s, very public rumors that Bernhard and Madonna were lovers circulated based on their ‘playful’ appearances together; but the facts of a lesbian relationship have been denied by Bernhard who claims she and Madonna were intentionally “creating a media frenzy”.
Despite Bernhard’s denial, Madonna has continued to develop a tabloid reputation hinting at lesbianism, with rumors of trysts with pop stars such as KD Lang. She has also been involved in viral imagery of kisses with Nicki Minaj, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears.
Simply put, this network was involved with exploding and exposing non-traditional feminist and gender norms through subversive public art. Regardless of the truth of their private sex lives, it is clear that Roseanne and Madonna were in the 1990s involved in similar and plausibly socially overlapping efforts to disrupt patriarchal gender taboos in an activist feminist/postfeminist fashion in accordance with their ‘unruly woman’ media personas.
But is it Russian?
Beyond their apparently concerted efforts in the areas of postfeminist identity and gender-based activism, Bernhard, Roseanne, and Madonna are also commonly grouped as followers of mystical Jewish religious practice known as Kabbalah, and an affiliation with the so-called “Kabbalah Centre” of R. Philip Berg. (Bernhard has publicly distanced herself from acknowledging current friendships with Roseanne and Madonna, and Roseanne has recently critiqued Madonna’s appearance. But they apparently retain this common feature of association with Kabbalah, introduced to them mutually by Bernhard.)
According to the Putin government-linked Jewish organization ‘Chabad’, Kabbalah sees “female superiority” in the quality of the soul. Generally, Kabbalah is also seen to imbue God with both male and female sexual qualities which may make the Kabbalah appealing to women who have felt excluded by patriarchal narratives from the Book of Genesis; such as those made salient from an Augustinian reading of “original sin“. Kabbalah sees man and woman as having excluded God from the Garden, and sex as divine rather than original sin.
While Chabad also defends Kabbalah against claims its principal text (the Zohar) was a 14th century forgery; there is considerable evidence to suggest it is so. Moreover, there is considerable resistance to ideas in Kabbalah by Maimonides-like rationalists in the rabbinical community, and this resistance is posited as a reaction to Kabbalah’s anti-rationalist, esoteric message “pushing Western boundaries“.
Kabbalah had been somewhat looked down upon by enlightened Jews in Western Europe (as enlightened Christians might look down upon Florida panhandle “Pentacostal snake handlers”). However in Eastern Europe, where 3 / 4 of Jews lived ~150 years ago, the dark and evil-confronting views of Kabbalistic mysticism were more popular. Perhaps in this regard, the modern defense of the Zohar by the Chabad organization makes sense. It is clear that much of the current fascination with Kabbalah does emanate from an Eastern European tradition.
Furthermore, from a cultural value standpoint, regardless of whether accepting the Zohar was originally a forgery, some rationalists now accept it as a valid “pseudepigraphy”, which has become legitimate through its integration over the centuries into Jewish experience. Kabbalah has adopted true religious value for some Jewish people, and these people are likely to come from an Eastern European or Hasidic background.
Despite its ‘benign’ nature, Kabbalah is a practice which can be easily ‘weaponized’ against the Jews, as any quick Youtube search of ‘kabbalah documentary‘ will attest. Why is it so ingrained within the conspiratorial mindset which sees a modern connection between Kabbalah and such manifestly medieval claims as those of Jewish Satanism, vampirism, and ‘blood sacrifice’? To me, it seems to be a byproduct of the legacy of the occult history of Tsarist Russia. As a pseudepigraphy, it ironically also parallels the Protocols from a Russian conspiracy perspective.
Reflecting on its popularity in Eastern Europe, there were even quixotic attempts to integrate Kabbalistic doctrine into the occult practices of the generally anti-Semitic Russian Orthodox Church in the 19th century by figures like Vladimir Soloviev – who also was involved in popularizing ideas of ‘antichrist‘ (which when you read it, sounds more than a little like the charismatic and mystical Eurasianist political model pushed by Dugin).
Of course, I have uncovered several potential examples of Russia promoting cults and cult-like sects (see Jang’s “Community” / Moon’s “Moonies”, Aum Shinrikyo, Theosophy, and presumably internally to Russia, Old Believer sects). In this potential sense, the Kabbalah Centre continues that pattern.
The cult expert Rick Ross deconstructs the cult-like practices behind the Kabbalah Centre, noting that he has never encountered a Kabbalah organization which has produced more complaints than Berg’s Kabbalah Centre. Nor is the Centre sanctioned by any official Jewish religious organization. Ross lays out a convincing case of behind the scenes ‘networking of information’ to produce ‘astrological charts’ which indoctrinate, persuade, and deceive participants into believing mystical claims and becoming “submissive”, “slave-like” devotees of the Bergs. It is little more than a magic trick (mentalism) according to Ross.
In addition to the concerning cult-like aspects of the Centre, perhaps even more worryingly in the era of Russian information warfare, the Bergs founded the Centre based on the teachings of R. Yehuda Ashlag, a Polish immigrant to Palestine in the 1920’s — and of him, David Ben Gurion said:
“I had the privilege of meeting many times with R. Ashlag of blessed memory, a few years ago, in Tel Aviv. I had long conversations with him, about Kabbalah, as well as about Socialism. I was amazed that he adhered especially to Communism. He asked me several times if we will establish a communist regime after the foundation of the Jewish state.” (p. 616 / p. 6 of PDF)
Beyond sharing the Kabbalah Centre background, both Roseanne Barr and Madonna have strong cultural connections to Russia as well as have expressed consistently communistic attitudes.
- Of Russian-Jewish heritage.
- Announced a Green Party candidacy for US President in 2011 on RT, following her appearance to do the same at an Occupy Wall Street rally. (Numerous other RT appearances.)
- Promotes numerous ‘pizzagate’ style conspiracy theories in the 2016-onward period which shows a shift from previously left-wing positions associated with Russia to right-wing positions associated with Russia. (In the past also embodied 9/11 Truth/Inside Job propaganda.)
- Pushes bitcoin related to financial market apocalypticism.
- Anti-Zionist who became Pro-Israel; but today evokes imagery of herself in a ‘Stalinist’ fashion. In the recent past described herself as a ‘socialist in the spirit of Trotsky’. This shows an admittedly Marxist-Leninist influence in her worldview, presumably originally laid down by exposure to Soviet/Russian propaganda earlier in life.
- Got her start working at “The Russian Tea Room”.
- Madonna was discovered by DJ Mark Kamins, who was one of the first club DJs to get very popular in Russia following the fall of Communism. He was involved in business ventures with figures plausibly close to government before his untimely death.
- Collector of the paintings of Frida Kahlo, who was notably a feminist but also a lover of Leon Trotsky and married to the Communist muralist Diego Rivera. The Hollywood legend Edward G. Robinson was an early collector of her paintings too, and she was associated with other Hollywood leftists close to Communist espionage (and Jewish mysticism) like Orson Welles.
- Has made videos in the Orson Welles style (also see as antifascist, below).
- Put forth the 2013 ‘Secretprojectrevolution’ which was released on Bittorrent allegedly (in part) in artistic response to Pussy Riot controversy, and it heavily relies on war-like language — “The enemy is not out there, the enemy is within…I did my tour of duty this year…I keep telling everyone I want to start a revolution but noone is taking me seriously”.
- Secretprojectrevolution contains numerous expositions of law enforcement as goose-stepping “fascist dictators” who are hurting minorities and women. “We live in a very scary time, or should I say we don’t really live anymore, democracy doesn’t seem to exist anymore, freedom of expression sounds like a catchprase…. when those fascist dictators posing as righteous men come to you with their big leather boots to shut you up, to put a gag in your mouth, to send you away to a penal colony, you better be prepared to fight for what you believe in…you better be prepared to die for what you believe in”. The police as fascist trope / antifa leaning can be seen in the Russian amplification of ‘Black Lives Matter’, for example.
- Secretprojectrevolution also promotes a post-capitalist fear of global financial collapse, opening with the lines “economic markets are collapsing, people all over the world are suffering, and people are afraid” . This has strong echoes of Russian terror-mongering economic propaganda like Zerohedge (and may somehow show as complementary to Roseanne’s support of the left-wing Occupy Wall Street before her move to potentially reciprocal right-wing conspiratorial positions).
- Echoing Roseanne’s national anthem performance, the secretprojectrevolution includes an off-key rendition of ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee‘ in a clear critique of American law enforcement specifically.
- Was an object of fascination for Donald Trump?
What does it mean? (Whatever you do, don’t ask Sorcha Faal)
Ultimately, there may not be evidence to say that “Roseanne and Madonna are cultural agents of influence of Russia”; but they do presently evoke a distinctive “left wing” (Madonna) and “right wing” (Roseanne) dichotomy, underpinned by potential ‘Russian conspiracism involving Jews’ which does support my model of Russian information warfare .
Both of them have been notably involved with Donald Trump – Madonna calling for radical violence – while Roseanne Barr has amplified apparently Russian conspiracy theories which “support” Trump. Currently they position themselves politically to the left and right of Trump and in positions known to be associated with propaganda efforts coming from Russia.
Perhaps this is not so surprising in the case of Madonna, who we could reasonably expect to project a leftist and artistic take on gender and social issues. However, given Barr’s ongoing status as a feminist, and association with the same networks of people she was involved in in the 1990s, her current support of Trump appears to be some kind of ‘Rus’(e), perhaps intended to actually damage the morally weak (on gender issues) Trump in the public narrative space.
There are reasonable grounds to even suspect that figures close to the Russian art controversies of Voina (War) and Pussy Riot (esp Pyotr Verzilov) which inspired Madonna in secretprojectrevolution may have some kind of connection to Russian intelligence (based on similar ‘two sidedness’); and could be counterintuitively promoting cultural war at the same time as they are performing the traditional secret service activities of identifying subversives and penetrating their organizations.
“Being affected while taking a cynical stance is just one of the many contradictions of “post-feminist sensibility”. This term describes a set of ideas about “ideal” femininity that frame women’s appearance-work as enjoyable, empowering and something women choose to do for themselves.
Post-feminist sensibility works through contradictions. Women are encouraged to be whatever they want to be. Yet they must also desire a heterosexual marriage and a conventionally attractive body. They should not be too feminist, like shopping, and even consider cosmetic surgery so their vulva looks like those in porn films. All this while understanding that these desires represent a personal, empowered choice. These contradictions make attempts to live out post-feminist ideals of femininity difficult and confusing. But still, women continue to “buy into” post-feminism.
It might seem like a tenuous link at first, but contemporary Russian domestic and overseas policy may help us understand the powerful attraction that post-feminism holds for many women. The same issues of contradiction, confusion and cynicism define both post-feminism and a new form of power emerging from Putin’s government called “nonlinear warfare”.
The aim of nonlinear warfare is to create a sense of confusion, so that people cannot be sure of reality, and nothing feels stable. As filmmaker Adam Curtis argues, Putin’s government might fund domestic anti-Putin organisations, but also lets it be known that it has done so. Such confusion leads to people supporting the existing order because it is seen to offer stability. Any opposition is neutralised because it cannot mobilise a consistent narrative against an indefinable, changing political landscape.
Nonlinear warfare has a connection with postmodern art theory which argues that information is power and a weapon of the state. So for artists to avoid being incorporated into state power, they must avoid being part of the information system by either being unintelligible or through “defamiliarisation” – creating art that exposes power by subverting dominant forms of media representation.”
I am pretty sure that both Madonna and Roseanne really don’t like Donald Trump. ‘Commie-Kabbalah‘ might even shed light on Rosie O’Donnell’s feuds with Trump too – as she is close friends with both Roseanne and Madonna (not to mention Kathy Griffin).
But I am still not sold they don’t really like Putin. They appear to work in an organization which does echo classical elements of Russia playing both sides. In this sense, both Madonna and Roseanne appear to be embracing attitudes pushed by Russian Information Warfare and the Russian troll farm. Perhaps they are just dupes (“useful idiots”) of a cult-like organization — though they are known as smart, independent women, and their public actions seem like conscious artistic exercises.
Coincidence or something more?