With interest in the Joan Crawford and Bette Davis feud reaching a fever pitch thanks to Ryan Murphy’s new series, it’s only natural that famed photographer David LaChapelle would honor another great feud in pop culture history–the one between Madonna and Courtney Love–with his parodied interpretation of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Courtney Love, naturally, gets the role of Baby Jane with her crude, disgruntled persona and tendency to put the Blanche of the scenario, Madonna, in her place. And while LaChapelle may have gotten the casting of each role right, what misses the mark is Madonna decked out in her cone bra watching an old video presumably from the era (something from the Blond Ambition Tour or maybe David Fincher’s “Express Yourself”). Anyone who truly has a slightly beyond the surface of “Material Girl” and “Like A Virgin” knowledge of Madonna can tell you that the Queen of Pop is never one for looking back on certain peaks of her career.
And so, Madonna simply can’t be the Blanche in spite of Love’s suitedness for Baby Jane; the former’s renownedness for constant reinvention and not dwelling on the past detracts from the “on the nose” element of what a sendup should be. As Madonna rings for Love to come bring her her food, Love storms into the room, kicks over the TV and shouts, “You been watching that video for thirty years! Maybe you oughta reinvent yourself!”
Madonna meekly returning, “If I wasn’t in this chair…,” also doesn’t jibe as she would never take shit from Love sitting down (literally). As the infamous exchange between them at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards showed, she would at least get in a biting quip about “a lot of available drugs.” LaChapelle has worked on photoshoots with both Madonna and Love, theoretically meaning he should have a better understanding of each one’s personality, and yet, somehow his innate gay man’s misogyny (let’s be real, for as much as gay men admire women, they certainly don’t like them enough to fuck them) affects the crude reimagining. While LaChappelle’s attempt at being a gay man is noble, one is truly much better off watching Alaska Thunderfuck and Alyssa Edwards’ interpretation of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Wha’ Ha’ Happened to Baby JJ? Though of course you can watch LaChappelle’s below if you really must.