Madonna in hot water again over Rebel Heart publicity

Reggie Myers

Madonna recently found herself in hot water again regarding race and insensitivity, and once again, it involves Instagram.

Madonna has a new album coming out a little later this year titled Rebel Heart, and in preparation for the album, she decided to post some pictures of historical figures she also thought had rebel hearts.

The singer took classic pictures of icons from throughout history and altered them to have the same rope around their faces she has on her album cover. Figures who made the list included dead celebrities such as John Lennon and Frida Kahlo, and – in a nod to her ‘Like a Prayer’ days – Jesus. She also made some altered images of celebrity friends including Diplo, Lady Gaga, and Miley Cyrus. Later she used a defaced image of the late Princess Diana.

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Social media users pushed back at Madonna, according to The Independent, accusing her of racism. Others said the posts were inappropriate and disrespectful.

The three images that initially caused a stir were altered photos of Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Bob Marley. Social media users were apparently upset that the images of these figures – associated with civil rights and the fight for black equality – bound them in rope for a publicity campaign. Others were annoyed at the possible infringements of copyright that may have occurred.

One Instagram user apparently wrote,

‘I can’t believe you would stoop this low…You’re commandeering other people’s likenesses and other photographers COPYWRITTEN [sic] images for your own pathetic agenda.’

Nonetheless, Madonna apologised on Friday with a message on her Facebook page. The singer wrote:

‘I’m sorry / I’m not comparing my self to anyone / I’m admiring and acknowledging their Rebel Hearts / This is neither a crime or an insult or racist! / I also did it with Michael jackson and frida khalo and marilyn monroe / Am I saying I am them / NO / I’m saying they are Rebel Hearts too. / And / I didn’t do it / My fans did / And I just re posted those photos / My fans aren’t racist either / If they put me in the same category as these other people / Thank you. I’m very flattered and I hope one day to live up to 1 100th of what those people accomplished.’

Some social media users in the UK have also been upset about the likeness of Princess Diana, the ‘People’s Princess’, being used to promote an album, as the princess – who did much for charitable causes – died tragically in a car crash in 1997. The image of Princess Diana came after Madonna officially apologised for the images.

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Madonna’s new album Rebel Hearts is due out later this year.

About Reggie Myers

Reggie Myers is a writer and communications professional living in Philadelphia, Pa., where he graduated from Temple University. Music, television, film, books, video games, politics, and human sexuality are just a few of the many things that make him tick. When he's not working behind a computer screen, you can find him looking for new adventures, practicing photography, scheming ways to get to the front row of a concert, or scouring the corners of the internet for new music to put his friends on to. @reggieakil