Various cultural theories (foremost among them, postmodernism) have figured in the debate over the politics of representation. These theories have tended to look at representation in the context of either audience enablement or commercial constraint; that is, do the images empower the public or inhibit it? One key area consistently overlooked has been the study of subcultural or subordinate groups who appropriate what is traditionally considered "mainstream". "The Madonna Connection" addresses the complexities of race, gender and sexuality in popular culture by using the influence of a cultural heroine to advance cultural theory. Madonna's use of various media - music, concert tour, film and video - serves as a paradigm by which the contributors study how images and symbols associated with subcultural groups (multi-racial, gay/lesbian, feminist) are smuggled into the mainstream. Using a range of critical and interpretive approaches to this evolving and lively cultural phenomenon, the importance of personalities like Madonna to issues of enablement and constraint is clearly demonstrated. Are "others" given "voice" by political interventions in mass popular culture?
Or is their "voice" co-opted to provide mere titillation and maximum profit? What might the interplay of these views suggest? These are some of the questions asked. While some celebrate Madonna's affirmation of cultural diversity, others criticize her flagrant self-marketing strategies. Still others regard her as only a provisional challenge to the mainstream.