12 Of Madonna's Most Scandalous Controversies
The original trailblazer and envelope-pusher, Madonna, had a lot of firsts, whether it's scandalous on-stage behavior or taboo topics in her songs. When Madonna does anything, people pay attention. Here are just a few of the times she birthed a controversy.
By Diana Pearl
Showed some serious skin.
In 2012, Madonna pulled down half of her bra to show off her nipple on stage during her MDNA tour, a move that received quite a bit of backlash for going too far. But "going too far" is the Madonna way.
She gave some lip at the VMAs.
It was the kiss that shook the world when Madonna locked lips with not just Britney Spears, but Christina Aguilera, too, at the 2003 award show.
Had a video banned by both VH1 and MTV.
Unlike many of her more controversial songs, Madonna's "What It Feels Like For A Girl" didn't depict sexual images, but violent ones. Madonna rides around in a yellow car (with license plates reading "Pussy" and "Cat"), running over men and setting things on fire, the video was played just a few times before it was banned by both channels.
She offended religious sensibilities.
During the 1998 VMA's, Madonna appeared for an on stage performance with Hindu markings on her face. For Hindus, they represent chastity, purity, and dedication to God—an odd choice for Madge, as on stage, she was simulating sex. That wasn't the only time Madonna upset a religious body. She routinely pissed off the Catholic Church for inappropriately using Christian imagery in her songs, videos and concerts.
Used a-lot F-Bombs on TV.
During a visit to David Letterman's late night show, Madonna showed once again that nothing is off limits for the pop icon. She dropped the f-bomb 13 times on the show, and even called Letterman "a sick fuck" for using her sex life as a topic of conversation on the show. The episode sky-rocketed Letterman's ratings.
She was the reason for a NC-17 rating.
In the film Body of Evidence, Madonna appears on screen masturbating—a scene that earned the flick an NC-17 rating, until the scene was changed so they could receive a lesser rating.
Almost arrested for her on-stage behavior.
Body of Evidence wasn't Madonna's only experiment with masturbation-for-show. During her famed Blonde Ambition Tour in 1991, Madonna simulated masturbation on stage during a show in Toronto, Canada. The act disturbed so many people that she was nearly arrested.
Published a book of erotic photographs.
Madonna's "SEX" book was envelope-pushing to say the least, but that didn't stop it from topping the New York Times bestseller list. She was only given the clearance from her record label to publish if there was no bestiality, children or religious references. In typical Madonna fashion, she went ahead and used religious imagery and included a photo where she posed straddling a dog, anyways. The release of the book coincided with the release of her album, "Erotica", but it was the racy tome that gained was really talked-about.
Sang about teenage pregnancy.
In her hit single "Papa Don't Preach", Madonna takes on the role of a pregnant, unwed teenager, who says she wants to keep her baby. There was a ton of outcry about the politically charged message of the song. People from both pro-abortion rights and anti-abortion camps weren't pleased. Planned Parenthood called the song anti-abortion, while Catholics felt it promoted sex outside of marriage. But Madge claimed "It just fit right in with my own personal zeitgeist of standing up to male authorities."
Released the first-ever video single.
Following MTV's ban of Madonna's too-racy-for-TV "Justify My Love" video, she decided to give her fans another way to watch it, releasing the vid as a "video single", which sold millions of copies (and sure showed MTV).
She was dropped as a spokesperson for Pepsi.
Madge's first and only Pepsi commercial, set to her hit "Like A Prayer" was aired only one time. But it wasn't the commercial that was the problem, it was the "Like a Prayer" music video, which depicted anti-Christian imagery, including burning crosses and racy acts with saints, which prompted the Vatican to threat a boycott of all Pepsi products. She still made five million dollars off that one advertisement.
And, of course:
She wore lingerie on stage. all. the. time.