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Not So Secret: Madonna's Pretentious Film Project Attracted Sean Penn


If you couldn't figure it out, 'SecretProjectRevolution' promotes freedom of expression

At last, "SecretProjectRevolution" is secret no longer. Madonna and photographer Steven Klein released the 17-minute B&W film to the web last night and, in effect, launchedArt For Freedom, a global initiative that aims to expand freedom of expression. Madge also celebrated the premiere with an A-list party at Manhattan's Gagosian Gallery on Tuesday night; ex-hubby Sean Penn (clearly on good terms with the Queen of Pop), Lindsay Lohan (she looked great!), Anderson Cooper, Zachary Quinto were among many at the soiree.

So what's "SecretProjectRevolution" all about? "A revolution of love," to quote the Queen, who guides viewers through the film's violent shootouts, jail beatings, and hauntingly beautiful dance performances. Her repetitive voiceovers drill the video's point to the ground: fight oppression, intolerance and evil, preserve creativity, artistic expression, and freedom of choice. That's as specific as the 17-minutes get.

The video is, without a doubt, visually stunning, carefully choreographed, and crisply edited. On this front, it warrants a watch (and appreciation). But where "SecretProjectRevolution" excels with aesthetics, it lacks in meaning.

Let's compare the film to another socially aware pop video: "Same Love." Macklemore and Ryan Lewis tackled a specific and extremely relevant social issue: marriage equality. Their song was groundbreaking because Macklemore was a straight rapper singing about same-sex equality on a pop-culture level. Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and Mary Lambert extended a social message to people who many never have met a gay man or woman; they elevated a minority issue onto a mainstream stage. This expansive scope made "Same Love" revolutionary (and won it a VMA award).

Can "SecretProjectRevolution" say the same? I'm sure the film will be a hit among Madonna fans and film creatives. But that doesn't make it a revolution. It has to reach the non-Madonna fans, the non-film creatives, the rest of us, to be a revolution. And for it do that, it has to make a statement. "SecretProjectRevolution" is something like a Hallmark card for freedom of expression and sticking it to the man. But Hallmark cards are generic and forgettable, and when you boil "SecretProjectRevolution" down to the bones, it's just that.

Watch (it if you dare) below:

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Jesse Steinbach