Today in Madonna History: July 5, 1987

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On July 5 1987,  Madonna was interviewed by Jane Pauley on NBC-TV’s Today and caused a controversy when she referred to her hometown of Bay City, Michigan as “a smelly little town” – a comment that enraged the citizens of Bay City.

Today in Madonna History: July 2, 1990

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On July 2 1990, Roman Catholic groups condemned Madonna’s Blond Ambition concert as blasphemous due to her controversial show’s sex and religious themes and planned to cancel her concerts in Rome and Turin.

Madonna made this speech in response to the threats:

I am an ltalian-American, and I am proud of it.
Proud of being an American because it is the country I grew up in, the country that gave me the opportunities to be who I am today and a country that believes in freedom of speech and artistic expression.
 
My show is not a conventional rock show but a theatrical presentation of my music.
And, like theatre it asks questions, provokes thought and takes you on an emotional journey.
Portraying good and bad, light and dark, joy and sorrow, redemption and salvation.
I do not endorse a way of life but describe one, and the audience is left to make its own decisions and judgments.
This is what I consider freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of thought.
 
Every night, before I go onstage, I say a prayer not only that my show will go well but that the audience will watch with an open heart and an open mind and see it as a celebration of love, life and humanity.

*This is an edited transcript of the speech.  The full speech is included in the video posted above.

Today in Madonna History: June 3, 2012

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On June 3 2012, Marine Le Pen threatened to sue Madonna if she included her image with a swastika during her shows in France.

Here’s a snippet of an article that appeared in the Telegraph:

The fleeting image was shown at a concert the US-born singer gave in Tel Aviv last Thursday as part of her MDNA World Tour.

Projected during the song Nobody Knows Me, the film morphed Madonna’s face with a number of famous figures, including Chinese leader Hu Jinatao, US Republican former presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Pope Benedict XVI.

Miss Le Pen’s eyes and forehead then appear for a second before a swastika and the eyes of Adolf Hitler are superimposed onto the FN leader.

Furious, Miss Le Pen threatened to sue the singer if she kept the video unchanged when she performs in Paris on the July 14 national holiday and in Nice in August. “If she does that in France, we’ll be waiting for her,” she told Le Parisien.

Hitting back at Madonna, she was quoted by the newspaper as asking: “By the way, has Madonna given back the children she stole from Africa? Or did she end up buying them?”

Today in Madonna History: April 16, 2003

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On April 16 2003, Madonna released an edited version of the American Life video on VH-1.

The edited version (also called the “flag” version) featured Madonna singing in front of a backdrop of ever-changing flags of different countries.

Today in Madonna History: April 12, 1994

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On April 12 1994, Madonna sent a handwritten note to David Letterman wishing him a “Happy Fucking Birthday”.

Sent less than two weeks after her infamous profanity-laced appearance on the Late Show, the cheeky letter takes Letterman to task for having used the controversy to his advantage.

Today in Madonna History: April 6, 2017

 

On April 6 2017, CNN published an article explaining why Madonna understands a little something about pulled Pepsi commercials:

In 1989, she starred in a Pepsi commercial that was pulled because of controversy over the music video for Like A Prayer, which featured burning crosses and showed Madonna kissing a black actor portraying a saint.

She reminded the world of this bit of pop culture history Wednesday when she posted on Instagram about the disastrous Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner.

 “When you wake up and realize that SHIT just really doesn’t make sense. Side Note: My Pepsi commercial was pulled 30 years ago because I was kissing a black saint! #ironic.”

 

Today In Madonna History: March 16, 2001

On March 16 2001, MTV and VH1 networks announced that Madonna’s new video for What It Feels Like For A Girl would be broadcast only once on March 20 at 11:30 pm because of the controversy over its violent content.

Madonna later released What It Feels Like For A Girl as a DVD single.

Madonna biographer Andrew Morton had this to say about the video:

“The video is entirely consistent with the themes that she has been exploring for the last twenty years, namely the relationship between the sexes, the ambiguity of gender, and the unresolved conflict, for women in a patriarchal society of being fully female and sexual while exercising control over their lives.”

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