As has been the case for almost as long as Madonna has had a career, black folks are telling her “culture-y vulture-y” behind to have a seat. And yet the material girl has done it again—exploiting blackness to sell records. Yes, her newest effort has gone back to the same racially insensitive playbook that she always has used.
Feminist pop culture site Jezebel explains:
The cover of Rebel Heart features a close-up of Madonna’s face wrapped in a BDSM-alluding tangle of black cord. Since [the album] dropped, she’s been regramming fan art of various other icons photoshopped into that image, including Marilyn Monroe, Frida Kahlo, and (heh) Lady Gaga.
The issue for many came when the 56-year-old material girl did the same with Black icons Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Bob Marley….”not only placing herself as their equal by proxy, but also apparently oblivious to the concept that a white artist who’s made various forms of black music throughout her career showing images of civil rights icons tied up in cord is demeaning,” continues Jezebel.
The MLK caption: “This #rebelheart had a dream!”; The Mandela caption: “This #rebelheart fought for freedom!; The Marley: “This #rebelheart sang about ONE LOVE!”
I mean we all know this is Madonna’s M.O. going back to the ’80s and the beginning of her career. She used Leon as Black Jesus in 1989’s “Like A Prayer” video, and showed herself having a menage a trios with Big Daddy Kane and Naomi Campbell in her 1992 book, “Sex.” Fine, her trope is shock. Add in the fact that she’s white woman playing with blackness and you’ve hit the American shock value jackpot.
But that’s the point. It’s playing. Blackness for Madonna is something you can slip into and out of (ahem) with all the benefits and none of the consequences. That and the fact that she called her (white) son Rocco, an “n-word” last year on Instagram, and two of her four children are black makes this latest ploy just beyond.
Predictably Black Twitter got all up in her, but the question remains, really?
Madonna apologized on Facebook on Friday:
After all these years, the consistent backlash, and a black son and daughter, why does Madonna not know that this may be inappropriate at best and at worst reeks of racial opportunism?