No one can deny that Madonna’s life did not center around drama, be it on or off the stage, in all actuality, the controversies surrounding her were the fuel to the fire of her fame.
Her album, Like a Prayer, and its title track was given so much publicity as a result of its music video, featuring Madonna wearing a thin slip, dancing in front of a burning cross, and kissing an African-American saint, that Pepsi canceled its sponsorship of her tour and the commercial that she had done for them because of complaints from religious groups. However, instead of realizing she had made a mistake, Madonna realized instead that scandal equals sales. People love it. So she used similar techniques to boost ticket sales for her Blonde Ambition Tour in 1990, her documentary in 1991, called Truth or Dare, and her X-rated book, Sex, as well as her album, Erotica, in 1992.
The “Like a Virgin” Controversy
The first Madonna controversy I am aware of is the title of her first #1 song and album ‘Like A Virgin [Remastered]’. See, back in the early 1980s it was rather risque to hear the word “virgin” in the title of a song and to be sung over the radio. Add to that the fact that Madonna debuted the song at the first MTV awards, singing it in a full white wedding gown.
The “Papa Don’t Preach”/Abortion Controversy
With 1986’s ‘True Blue’ Madonna reinvented herself, changing from the thrift store look of the Virgin era to a Marilyn Monroe platinum blonde bombshell. But the controversy overshadowed the music and the makeover: Madonna’s song ‘Papa Don’t Preach’ raised many eyebrows and turned the critical tables on her. The song, which is about an unwed mother refusing to put her child up for adoption (“But my friends keep telling me to give it up,” Madonna sings), was misinterpreted by many as being an anti-abortion anthem. Those who had formerly condemned Madonna were now praising her, while her former supporters were now accusing her of setting young girls on a course toward poverty.
The follow-up single “Open Your Heart” proved to be a point of controversy as well. This time, however, it was the video itself that upset some.
The Blond Ambition/Truth Or Dare Controversy
Madonna launced the Blond Ambition world tour in 1990. The finest moments of the tour were released in 1991 in her documentary ‘Madonna – Truth or Dare’, which garnered controversial attention for its behind-the-scene look at Madonna’s life during the Blond Ambition tour.
The “Justify My Love” Controversy
Later that same year (1991), Madonna earned an honor that had been previously denied her: she was banned from MTV. Well, she herself was not banned. Her video ‘Madonna – Justify My Love’ was banned. But this led to an innovative idea: Madonna sold the video as the first ever “video single.” She made millions!
The Evita Controversy
In 1995, Madonna was in Argentina filming her role as Eva Peron in the musical ‘Evita’. This controversy did not really register in any other country, but in Argentina there were some people who opposed Madonna being cast as their legendary former first lady. Madonna would later win a Golden Globe award for her performance.