Madonna is once again courting controversy, by doing a photo shoot inspired by someone even more iconic than she is: Marilyn Monroe.
Throughout her career, Madonna has nodded to Marilyn several times, most famously in her video for “Material Girl,” and her outfit at the 1991 Oscars. For the new issue of V Magazine, Madonna and photographer Steven Klein created an homage to “The Last Sitting,” a famous 1962 series of photos taken by Bert Stern of Monroe in a hotel room just six weeks before she died.
Some fans take issue with the shoot, opining that the images make light of Monroe’s 1962 overdose. Madonna is pictured lying on a bed with her eyes closed next to a table full of pill bottles, and appearing to be dead as she lies topless, with her posterior to the camera.
“This isn’t cool. Glamorizing suicide is the only takeaway once the shock factor wears off,” one person tweeted. Another described the shoot as “so gross.”
But Klein explains, “We wanted to explore the relationship between photographer and subject,” and said he and Madonna wanted to “try to capture the liaison between a star and the camera, the mystery, and magic of this creative collaboration.”
In the V interview, conducted by playwright Jeremy O. Harris, Madonna talks about cancel culture and how it applies to the James Baldwin quote she used in her Madame X show: “Artists are here to disturb the peace.”
“The censoring that’s going on in the world right now, that’s pretty frightening. No one’s allowed to speak their mind right now,” Madonna declares. “No one’s allowed to say what they really think about things for fear of being canceled…In cancel culture, disturbing the peace is probably an act of treason.”
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