Today in Madonna History: February 4, 2003

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On February 4 2003, filming for Madonna’s music video for American Life took place in Los Angeles with director by Jonas Åkerlund.

The casting call issued for the video sought the following:

Eastern European Man (30 – 60 yrs. old, Real people, THIN, interesting looking, great face, worn out looking, craggy). 4 Beautiful Models (drop dead gorgeous w. amazing legs and bodies). 10 soldiers (must have long hair and be willing to shave it for the video… good-looking, really good body). Hair stylist (male or female, any ethnicity, must be real hair stylists, think editorial type. Stylist (male or female, any ethnicity, 20’s, cool and interesting looking, think N.Y. 2 Babes (very voluptuous and buxom, bimbo types, b pin-up girls). Makeup artists (m or f, any ethnicity, a REAL makeup artist). 2 IRAQI kids (boys and girls, 4 – 7 yrs. old). African-American Male (35 – 50, THIN).

Åkerlund commented on the upcoming video to Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet:

“It’s great that Madonna gives me the trust to do this video. The song is super cool and aimed for the dance floors. I especially love that she gives me the trust to do the first single from the new album. There is a special feeling and ambition around the first single and a hell of lot of secrets. I had to sign a paper even before I got to listen to the song! The shooting will take 3 days.”

7 responses

  1. JC, I Agree with you for once! Was Madonna trying to make her point clear or did she go absolutely insane?! As a longtime fan I don’t get or even like American Life-the song is terrible and unlistenable, the video is scary and unwatchable just like it’s bitch sister ancestor Erotica! Madonna’s absolute low point, nadir and failure!

  2. While I tend to agree that the song is not one of her best efforts, I thought the video was excellent. Sure it’s disturbing but it’s not gratuitous – its ironic commentary on the classist, trivialized and largely warped perceptions of war held by so many in the western world was a strong and timely statement. I thought it was unfortunate that she decided to pull it regardless of how it might have been perceived.

    • Well said. I’d like to note that while American Life probably isn’t my very favorite of Madonna’s hundreds of songs, it ranks close to the top when taken into proper context. With American Life, Madonna as an artist raised difficult questions and brought meaning to a wide assortment of undiscussed topics and socially relevant themes (politics, existentialism, self-reflection, materialism, mass-consumption consumerism, perfectionism, celebritism) whilst still achieving commercial and international success as a pop radio hit (outside of the US).

  3. The music video is one of her best especially as a provocative artist. In hindsight after more than a decade of numerous bloody wars against Middle-East nations, I think it was a mistake for her (or Warner Music Group) not to release this version. In my opinion, the video would have caused more Americans to ponder the absurdity of the US-Iraq war, it’s potential consequences, or the country’s dangerous military industrial complex rather than insensitively cause offense to deployed military personnel and their families.

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