Madonna has been on her "Unapologetic Bitch" tip as of late, especially since six tracks from her forthcoming album Rebel Heart leaked, and she responded deftly by just releasing them, a pretty smart move. "Unapologetic Bitch" is one of those tracks, and titlewise, a fine summation of her whole career. Unfortunately, historically Madonna's non-apologies are complicated by the fact that she is often racially insensitive and a longtime cultural appropriator, and her latest Instagram photos are no exception.
The cover of Rebel Heart features a close-up of Madonna's face wrapped in a BDSM-alluding tangle of black cord. Since it dropped, she's been regramming fan art of various other icons photoshopped into that image, including Marilyn Monroe, Frida Kahlo, and (heh) Lady Gaga.
That's all well and good, if a bit shady. But today, she Instagrammed images of Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Bob Marley in the cord, not only placing herself as their equal by proxy, but also apparently oblivious to the concept that a white artist who's made various forms of black music throughout her career showing images of civil rights icons tied up in cord is demeaning. Especially when, last January, her own "rebel heart" referred to her son Rocco, by the n-word. Two of her four children, David and Mercy, are black.
MLK caption: "This #rebelheart had a dream!"
Mandela caption: "This #rebelheart fought for freedom!"
Marley caption: "This #Rebelheart sang about ONE LOVE!"
While these are not the worst of her racially problematic infractions (see: the n-word), Madonna's constant privileged oblivion have grown increasingly tiresome over the past, oh, 30 years. Commercialization, of course, has always been one of Madonna's strong points, but this misuse of these images to brand her album, and herself, is tone-deaf as hell, especially at this point in American history.
Image via Madonna/Instagram.