Madonna, who has caused plenty of outrage during her 29 years in the music business, finds herself on the wrong end of a ”public insult” lawsuit after showing an image of France’s National Front (NF) leader, Marine Le Pen, with a swastika superimposed over her face. The image appeared in a video during the singer’s Nobody Knows Me song, which also features images of other political figures including Pope Benedict, Chinese leader, Hu Jintao, and US Republican, Sarah Palin, and was followed by another image resembling Adolf Hitler.
It’s not the first time the Queen of Pop has shown the video during her 30-nation, 80 date MDNA tour: the image was initially seen during her concert in Tel Aviv back in May, though she wisely did not show it while performing in Germany.
…Nazi-sympathies and extremist elements…
After the screening in Tel Aviv the NF had warned the Material Girl if she showed the video in France they would sue, with Le Pen saying, “If she tries that in France, we’ll see what happens.” The politician then added a jibe towards the 53-year-old singer, saying, “It’s understandable when ageing singers who need publicity go to such extremes”. Ignoring the warnings issued by the National Party, Madonna showed the video during her concert at the Stade de France, drawing support from French anti-racism group SOS Racisme, who have commended the singer for her “resolutely anti-racist and feminist discourse.”
Le Pen has tried to reinvent the image of the far-right National Front party, known for its Nazi-sympathies and extremist elements, after taking over from her father, Jean-Marie 18 months ago. The party won 18% of votes in the first round of France’s presidential elections, but only managed to bag two seats in the parliamentary elections.
…the singer was seen burning crosses and making love to an African-American saint…
Without a doubt Madonna is no stranger to sparking controversy and debate. In her 1989 video, Like a Prayer, the singer was seen burning crosses and making love to an African-American saint, causing outrage in the Vatican and causing Pepsi to cancel their contact with the pop-star. Two years later, her Justify my Love video, complete with female nudity (in other words, naked breasts), lesbian play and sadomasichism was banned from MTV.
While not personally agreeing with the desecration of religious iconography or flaunting sadomasichism in a video seen by impressionable young minds, I’ve always been a firm believer in freedom of expression. But this time it seems Madonna may have gone a little too far.
…Just walk through Berlin and you’ll see that the past is very much present…
We may be 67 years on from the end of the Second World War, but for many the horrors that occurred during that time are still very real. Just walk through Berlin and you’ll see that the past is very much present. Using the swastika image, apparently lightly and without thought to the offence it would cause has been an error on Madonna’s part. Perhaps the singer is, as SOS Racisme believes, taking a stand on racism and not-so-subtly voicing her opposition to those with anti-Semetic views. If that is the case, I agree with her completely.
But given the delicate nature that surrounds the Nazi symbol, and what it represents, even in today’s society, maybe it wasn’t the best way to go about expressing her beliefs. Hopefully she’ll leave the video out when she plays in London’s Hyde Park this Tuesday.