It feels like we’re getting hung up on every little thing Madonna says or does at the moment, but if you were to put her latest PR scrape into the mechanical Madonna Controvers-o-meter, then the poor thing would be making loud whistling sounds, spitting out nuts and bolts, and pissing with steam.
It appears that The Queen of Pop posted a picture to her Instagram yesterday (above) praising the late Conservative Party leader, Margaret Thatcher, as an “#unapolgetic #rebelheart” (her typo not mine) in the star’s latest attempt to boost interest in her under-performing thirteenth studio album Rebel Heart. The picture has since been deleted, probably by the weary thumb of a wizened press officer who’s been stress-dreaming of retiring to Cornwall ever since Madge announced this latest record.
The #rebelheart album campaign has already been criticised for the way it’s used social media to continuously cash in on public adoration for inspirational icons like Martin Luther King, Bob Marley or Nelson Mandela by appropriating their images into the album artwork. But this time, people are obviously way more angry, because Madonna’s allied herself with Margaret Thatcher, a British prime minister who has such black marks to her name as supporting capital punishment, hammering the working class, damaging the UK’s manufacturing industry, beckoning a social housing crisis, and, perhaps most upsettingly for Madge’s fanbase, claiming it was immoral for children to be taught they had “an inalienable right to be gay”.
Madonna’s post even carried the words of a notorious soundbite that Thatcher used to deploy when comforting herself and her supporters during those darker days when it seemed like everyone outside of central London thought she was the malevolent part-dragon, part-octopus entity Cthulhu masquerading as a lady from Grantham. “If you set out to be liked,” read the Thatchphrase on Instagram, “you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.”
Madonna is not the first popstar to reveal their admiration for Thatcher only to quickly withdraw it. Geri Halliwell tweet-deleted about the Iron Lady in 2013: “Thinking of our 1st Lady of girl power, Margaret Thatcher, a grocer’s daughter who taught me anything is possible…x”. But we all expected that from Geri because if you wear a Union Jack dress to the Brit Awards, you’re a Tory, end of.
To be fair to Madonna, you can almost understand the mix up. Maybe, through her financially successful American celebrity eyes, she just saw the adorable and cuddly Meryl Streep 2011 edition of Margaret Thatcher, who bossed her way through the male dominated culture of British politics to become Britain’s only ever female Prime Minister. As opposed to the iron plated RoboMaggie of 1988 who persecuted LGBT communities through Section 28, or the posthumous Maggie of 2015 who is being accused of covering up Westminster child abuse. But you’d expect more awareness from Madonna, who has such a strong LGBT following, and has previously taken very public critical aim at folk like Marine Le Pen, Senator John McCain and George Bush.
With Madonna’s track record for being decidedly left of centre on the political spectrum, we definitely had some backseat reservations about whether the screenshot is 100% legit. Apparently it went up at around 7am yesterday morning, and even by 4pm yesterday there were barely any tweets about it. Pair the fact that Madonna has 3.7million fans on Instagram with the fact that on a Monday almost the entire UK office workforce is just sitting on the internet and waiting for something to go wrong, you would have expected way more instantaneous moral outrage than that. It seems like it wasn’t until The Quietus posted the circulating screenshot on their Facebook page yesterday afternoon that things really erupted into stories on The Mirror and Gigwise yesterday, and now more websites today.
After all, it’s pretty easy to fake stuff like this. Here’s me making Kim Kardashian look like a right arse blanket by fiddling her Instagram to appear as if she’s a huge fan of Barry from Cillit Bang, to the raucous reception of her fans, who I’ve also, in turn, made look like massive Barry fanboys.
When we contacted Madonna's press team, they were not willing to comment on whether it was real or fake. However, with a bit of hardcore Googling, we found a Russian website called Grammio which seems to fully log the Instagram records of big names, and lo and behold we have the original Madonna post even with all the original fan comments, most of which go a lot like this:
And so Madonna's press campaign continues to be one of 2015's most divisive. From tumbling on the Brits, to appropriating Martin Luther King, to swallowing Drake, and now co-signing British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, she’s churning out more headlines than Ed Miliband’s lunchtimes. At this rate, what could even surprise us anymore? Madonna dating Putin? Madonna invests in project to make our oceans fizzy? Madonna seen dragging snow leopard home after satisfactory day out hunting? Madonna tweets picture of Anjem Choudary with heart emoji? Madonna says King Richard III was a #rebelheart? That all just sounds tame to me now. Madonna, you’ve made everything seem tame.
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