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Has Madonna gone too far?


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Madonna has sparked controversy this week for adding a swastika to an image of France’s National Front leader, Marine Le Pen,  during her worldwide tour. Last month, the superstar was warned by the party not to include the political montage at her French shows or she would be sued for damages.

Never one to avoid a public argument, Madonna went ahead with the polemical picture.

The self-confessed material girl has been accused of chasing publicity due to waning popularity and to what the National Front has described as a ‘flop’ of a tour.

Certainly, Madonna does not shy away from the front page. During her Confessions Tour she appeared hanging from a cross, inciting religious outcry and her Like a Prayer music video led to her being banned from the Vatican.

Beyond her attempts to undermine religion, Madonna has actively engaged with contentious political subjects; she famously criticised America’s position on war in the Middle-East and spoke of music as her revolutionary power.

While Madonna inevitably has a lot to gain from this PR stunt, it would be cynical to claim that publicity is her sole reason for defacing Marine Le Pen with the Nazi symbol. The image may imply that the National Front has fascist tendencies but it is the media and the public who are happy to acknowledge her opinion. Regardless of the real views of its members, Marine Le Pen faced criticism during the 2012 presidential race for her aggressive approach and her father, ex-leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, was a convicted racist, anti-Semite and publically denied the holocaust.

We must ask ourselves whether Madonna would be able to cause such a furore with a simple image if we did not partly agree with its connotations. I am not saying the National Front should be compared to the Nazi Party but rather that Madonna is only vocalising existing concerns.

We live in a world obsessed with political correctness: a world of individuals scared to have an opinion for fear of offending others or being sued. If Madonna disagrees with the views of France’s National Front party she should be able to say so; we should encourage discussion and debate. What’s more, I can’t help thinking that if she had shown avid support for the party with an image of Marine Le Pen emblazoned with love hearts, she would have been equally as criticised.

Ultimately the debate is not over what Madonna did, but whether she should have done so. Her path to success may be carved by stunts but what does it say about us if she is able to predict a public reaction? We need to take a step back and examine what is being said, not jump down Madonna’s throat simply because she had the courage to speak out.

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