Madonna took the stage during her MDNA tour in Washington D.C., but not without taking full advantage of her spotlight. Last Monday, Sept. 24, Madonna fired up the crowd with an inspirational speech entailing the great works of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, but ended it on a rather confusing note. Apparently, “for better or for worse… We have a black Muslim in the white house,” Madonna claimed. Are we talking about the same president? Because the current president of the United States is in fact a devout Christian, and has taken great measures to make sure the rest of America is aware of that. Madonna revised her statement, via her spokeswoman on Sept. 26, saying, “I was being ironic on stage… I know Obama is not a Muslim,” according to washingtonpost.com. This new and reconsidered comment does not erase her first. What we witnessed here was a great deal of misguided irony, and another instance of a celebrity using their fame to make a questionable political statement.
Madonna has been doing freaky things for a long time, and it’s something her fans and the general public have come to accept. It’s how she became famous. She is a woman known to stir up controversy, like when she upset the Pope because of her 1989 “Like a Prayer” music video in which there were various blasphemous images such as burning crosses. She also posed for a pornographic coffee-table book entitled “Sex” published in 1992. Yet recently, she has fallen into the trend, like many other celebrities, of using her venues for politics.
Performers don’t have the best track record when it comes to speaking out at their concerts, and Madonna is no exception. This occurrence is similar to the 2003 incident when the Dixie Chicks performed in London and claimed they were ashamed that President George W. Bush was from their home-state of Texas. Country singer Hank Williams Jr. was once the Monday Night Football announcer of “Are you ready for some football?” until he metaphorically compared President Obama to Hitler in October 2011. And even after being in hot water from that comment, Williams called Obama a Muslim as well at a concert Sept. 2 this year. Each of these incidents resulted in a backlash neither artist ever fully recovered from. The Dixie Chicks’ songs rapidly dropped in the charts and Williams was fired from his job at ESPN. These are blatant examples that if you’re a celebrity with strong opinions, state them at your own risk.
However, Madonna has never really had any career-altering consequences to any of the shocking things she has done. Her stunts have usually resulted in an even greater popularity of her music and image. Throughout her current tour, she’s accused Lady Gaga of imitation, and openly supported the rock group Pussy Riot for speaking out in a Russian cathedral. She even included a video on stage with an image of a swastika on the forehead of Marine Le Pen, the President of Front National Political Party. I think Lady Gaga said it best, taken from huffingtonpost.com: “It’s more important to me to keep writing music…we don’t have to all slice and hate each other anymore.” As Madonna is getting older, her shock value is quickly declining. It’s about time she took a little responsibility for the immature things she pulls at her concerts.
What did the audience think of Madonna’s speech? I’m sure that a good portion of the fans who attended that concert agree with everything she said, including her little joke for the president. But what about the people who didn’t agree? Is it fair to them that her political views took the stage instead of a musical performance? No, it’s not. Madonna’s concerts aren’t cheap, ranging in thousands of dollars for premium seats at many different venues, and these fans are paying good money to watch her perform, not to delve into political speeches. Regardless of what Madonna was attempting to joke about, this kind of publicity is not what President Obama is looking for in his campaign. The issue of the president’s religion has plagued him his entire presidency, and even after four years, people are still confused as to what it is.
According to washingtonpost.com, a new poll from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life states that 19 percent of Americans are concerned about Obama’s religion. Not only that, but a whopping 17 percent of Americans still believe the president is Muslim. How on earth can that be possible? I’m not one to agree with Obama on a number of political issues, but this is ridiculous. It’s not like he hasn’t done everything in his power to correct the situation. Madonna’s statement cannot be helping his case in any way. If anything, it’s confusing that 17 percent of Americans even more.
Madonna is a music industry and pop culture icon. She has shown the world that music can change the way people think. I’m not doubting her importance in this aspect. She’s done a lot of good things throughout her career, as well as the bad. But she now falls into the growing category of celebrities trying to use fame to impose their own opinions onto their unsuspecting fans. She appeared to have good intentions toward the president when she ironically called him a Muslim. But I’m not quite sure this is the type of support Obama is looking for as Election Day draws ever closer.
Lauren Richey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org