Madonna Tribe Year End Review: American Life – The Video Controversy
One of Madonna‘s most controversial moment in years arrives with the launch of her first single from her album “American Life” in the first months of 2003. Let’s have a look back at some articles documenting what happened.
Madonna Defends Her “American Life” Video – 02/18/2003
The music video for the title track to Madonna‘s upcoming album American Life has not even premiered yet, but it’s already generating controversy.
The anti-war themed video features several attention-grabbing moments, including one in which Madonna lobs a hand grenade during a runway show of couture army fatigues. The fashion show then develops into a mad frenzy, which, according to her record label, illustrates the “catastrophic repercussions and horrors of war.”
The video may be thought provoking, but Madonna said it is not meant to be anti-American. “I feel lucky to be an American citizen for many reasons,one of which is the right to express myself freely, especially in my work,” she said in a statement.
“I understand that there have been reports about my upcoming video ‘American Life’ in the media–much of which is inaccurate,” Madonna noted. “I am not Anti-Bush. I am not pro-Iraq. I am pro-peace.”
Madonna went on to say that the song and accompanying video is not so much about war as it is about greed and materialism. “I have written a song and created a video which expresses my feelings about our culture and values and the illusions of what many people believe is the American dream, the perfect life,” she proclaimed.
Madonna addressed a similar topic in a more subdued matter early on in her career when she spoofed the commercialism and greed of the mid-’80s with her “Material Girl” song and video in 1985.
The “American Life” video controversy is just the latest for the music icon who’s made a career out of pushing the envelope.
In 1989 Madonna was dropped from a multi-million dollar contract with Pepsi after the company didn’t approve of the mix of sexual and religious imagery in her “Like A Prayer” music video. In 1990, MTV censored her “Justify My Love” clip because of its explicit sexual content.
As recently as 2001, Madonna’s video for “What It Feels Like For A Girl,” directed by her husband, British filmmaker Guy Ritchie, was banned by MTV due to its violent content. The video showed Madonna playing a character out on the town with her grandmother in a car crash/crime spree.
Madonna said that her “American Life” video is different from some of her previous clips in that it is intended to inspire discussion and debate among people, rather than to just flat out be offensive like the “What It Feels Like For A Girl” clip.
“As an artist, I hope this provokes thought and dialogue,” Madonna said. “I don’t expect everyone to agree with my point of view. I am grateful to have the freedom to express these feelings, and that’s how I honor my country.”
The “American Life” music video was shot in Los Angeles in early February and directed by Jonas Akerlund, who also helmed Madonna’s “Ray of Light” video in 1998 and her “Music” video in 2000.
Madonna’s new album American Life is due to be released on April 22.
Article by Jason Gelman. Source: ET.
Madonna Says ‘American Life’ Video Is Not Anti-Bush – 03/31/2003
At the end of Madonna’s new “American Life” music video, the singer tosses a grenade into the lap of a President George W. Bush look-alike who uses it to light a cigar.
The singer said that the controversial clip simply uses humor to convey her anti-violence stance. “It’s not me being anti-Bush, it’s me being ironic and tongue in cheek,” she told NBC’s Access Hollywood during an interview taped on March 27.
“It’s my kind of wish for peace and my desire to sort of turn a weapon of destruction, which is a grenade, into something that is completely innocuous,” added Madonna. “It’s my wish to finding an alternative to violence, to war and destruction.”
When Madonna was asked about reports that her record label forced her to re-shoot certain scenes in the video, she replied, “No, no, no… no one forced me to do anything. I have changed things on my own volition. I am saying exactly what I wanted to say.”
Article by Jason Gelman. Source: Lauch Yahoo
Madonna Yanks Controversial ‘American Life’ Video – 04.03.2003
Following six weeks of controversy, Madonna has withdrawn the video for her new single, “American Life.”
“It was filmed before the war started, and I do not believe it is appropriate to air it at this time,” she said in a statement.
The video, directed by Jonas Akerlund, begins with models decked in military gear strutting down a fashion runway while images of warplanes in flight splash across the walls. During the chorus, Madonna sings against a black screen as orange fireballs erupt over her shoulders. The clip also depicts shots of Arabic peasants in the street.
Near the end of the video, Madonna and overweight female dancers in military garb drive a car through the wall and storm the show, strutting menacingly and spraying a roof-mounted water cannon at the paparazzi and crowd. The shots are juxtaposed with rapid edits of planes dropping bombs and huge fiery explosions.
Madonna has said that she originally wanted the video to convey strong anti-war, anti-materialism and anti-fashion industry statements. However, as the war in Iraq progressed, she edited the footage to make it less controversial, her manager said.
The most dramatic adjustments were made to the clip’s conclusion, which at first featured Madonna throwing a live grenade into a fashion show. She changed the finale to depict her tossing a phony grenade at a George Bush look-alike, who catches it and uses it to light the cigar of a Saddam Hussein look-alike. In the final edit, Bush catches the grenade, then lights his cigar with the faux weapon.
Even with the changes, Madonna was worried the video would be misconstrued as anti-American or anti-military, which wasn’t her intention. For this reason, on Monday night she decided to withdraw it. Before her decision, many international networks had already aired the clip, which had been released abroad that day. Airing has since ceased, however.
“Due to the volatile state of the world and out of sensitivity and respect to the armed forces, who I support and pray for, I do not want to risk offending anyone who might misinterpret the meaning of this video,” she said in the statement.
During an interview last week, Madonna expressed frustration at the prospect of viewers reading things into the videos and her music, leaving her in a no-win position.
“I feel like with everything I do, there’s always gonna be that handful of naysayers, regardless of what I do,” she said. “They’ve made their decision before they’ve seen it. And that’s human nature. So I accept it. Obviously, it irritates me. I would like people to watch it, and I don’t want to tell them what to think. I don’t think it’s offensive.”
Now we may never know, since Madonna’s label has no plans to make the clip available to consumers in the future.
Article by Jon Wiederhorn/John Norris. Source:MTV News