The Queen of controversy stirs things up again, with her eight-minute long video for the song "God Control". While Madame X, the dark-haired Madonna, types away furiously on her typewriter under the watchful eye of her heroines Simone de Beauvoir, Frida Kahlo, and Angela Davis, the blonde-haired Madonna is someone from an earlier era. Perhaps it's even Madonna herself from her New York days, dancing in a club reminiscent of the famous studio 54. (Though for trivia points, the club they enter is actually The Globe in L.A.)
The shock is when the video depicts a shooting at a nightclub, complete with gun sounds taking over the music. It ends with a call for gun control.
Now, Madonna may have lived in Europe for the better part of a decade, but she seems to not have lived in Europe. My reaction to the bloodied people on the dance floor wasn't to immediately think of the Pulse nightclub shooting, but the Bataclan massacre, and to a certain extent the shooting at Sturecompagniet - a club that the Swedish director Åkerlund would have probably have been to at least once. My point is, while the motive may have been the same in the Bataclan and Pulse attacks, it was only two handguns that were legally purchased in the case of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Sweden and France are not exactly known for lax gun laws and we certainly do not have a second amendment like the United States. So, in that sense, this video seems a little myopic, only looking at the US, and disregarding how this might look to viewers from anywhere else on the planet where mass shootings have happened in dance venues. Never mind the fact that using death like this in a music video, complete with crying mourners singing hymns at funerals and linking it to school shootings looks beyond macabre. A perfectly made up blond Madonna splayed on a dance floor with all too realistic blood dripping over her face is uncomfortable, even if it looks like young Weird Al himself was the shooter.
Patience Carter, who survived the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting, spoke out in protest in a TMZ interview and on her personal social media accounts.
"As a survivor of gun violence, it was really hard to watch. For someone like me, who actually saw these images, who actually lived these images, to see them again dramatized for views (and) dramatized for YouTube, I feel like it was really insensitive."
Carter implored Madonna to apologize to any other survivors of gun violence who may have been triggered by the video:
"It was grossly accurate to what I actually witnessed that night, and if I wasn't as strong as I was, and I didn't have as much (growth), I wouldn't have been able to make it through the rest of the day."
On Twitter, Carter asked fellow survivors not to watch the video, in order to avoid "the extra pain of witnessing people being slaughtered."
"I couldn’t even watch after the first 45 secs @Madonna," she tweeted. "There are so many creative avenues that could’ve been taken to bring awareness to gun control. The Victims of these mass shootings should always be taken into consideration. I applaud the attempt, but I am truly disturbed."
Oh snap, looks like Åkerlund, a director with a truck full of creative awards, was just called out for being uncreative.
Madonna is no stranger to courting current controversies in graphic ways, she upset people with "American Life" sixteen years ago, as it was released at the height of the Iraq war and she was dancing in a uniform. The video ended with soldiers dying on a catwalk in gruesome ways. Expressing what people are talking about the most in music is what she does, even if some may see it as cynical exploitation of tragedy.
But like the fashion and dance trends she's followed and refined, calling for gun control in the United States isn't an original idea, it's just "hot" right now. Perhaps the United States will get similar gun restrictions as Sweden and France already had when Stureplan murders and Bataclan mass shooting took place, what will you blame then when the next shooting happens? Madonna offers no solution, just a really slick refrain "wake up" that I'm sure will infest the dance floors this summer.
Other social conscious points spotted in the video: the poster that reads “Straight White Men Rule Everything Around Me” behind blond Madonna as she gets ready, and the odd bit where she sings that she doesn't smoke dope. But Madame X, smokes. Hmmm. Could it be her social consciousness is literally just for show?
Director: Jonas Åkerlund