UPDATE 22 August, 2018: Madonna responded to criticism of her VMAs speech via an Instagram post, which reads:
“And just to clarify: I was asked to present video of the year by MTV! And then they asked me to share any anecdotes I had in my career connected to Aretha Franklin! I shared a part of my journey and thanked Aretha for inspiring me along the way. I did not intend to do a tribute to her! That would be impossible in 2 minutes with all the noise and tinsel of an award show. I could never do her justice in this context or environment.
Unfortunately most people have short attention spans, and are so quick to judge. I love Aretha! R.E.S.P.E.C.T. ??. I Love Camilla! Congrats! I LOVE my dress! AND. I love-L O V E!! ♥️ and there is nothing anyone can say or do that will change that. #vmas#postivevibes”
Madonna had the honour at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards of delivering the tribute speech to the late Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, and she objectively bombed it.
People are seething that the homage was usurped by Madonna talking mostly about her own career and success story. It was disrespectful and truly bizarre.
does Madonna know Madonna didn’t die
— Katie Nolan (@katienolan) August 21, 2018
As Madonna launched into her long-winded tale – of which Madonna was undoubtedly the protagonist – the whole speech felt like a darkly comedic caricature of the traits infamously attributed to her star sign.
‘Leos love to steal the spotlight’ is usually just an inconsequential joke, but Madonna really made a speech that could have been bad sketch parody. It was painful to watch.
“I left Detroit when I was 18, $35 in my pocket — my dream was to make it as a dancer,” Maddona shared, for some reason.
— Ashley. (@ashleyrelates) August 21, 2018
Basically Madonna tried to pass off her story as relevant because it was Franklin’s song that helped her (Madonna) to nail an audition that changed her (Madonna’s) career and life.
“There is a connection!” she insisted. “Because none of this would have happened, could have happened without our Lady of Soul.”
"If it wasn't for Aretha, we wouldn't have Madonna"- Madonna
— Roy Wood Jr- Ex Jedi (@roywoodjr) August 21, 2018
To add insult to injury, Madonna was delivering her ‘tribute’ while wearing an outfit and hairstyle that is being heavily (and fairly) criticised for culturally appropriating African culture.
From her braids to the headpiece modelled after those traditionally worn by an ethnic minority of North Africa, Madonna’s choice of words and style underlined the sourness of a white woman failing to pay proper respect to a black woman.
MTV: We'd like you to give a tribute to Aretha Franklin
Madonna: Great, so this is how I got my career started…
MTV: No, no, a tribute to Aretha
Madonna: So I said "bitch, I'm Madonna"
MTV: This isn't about you madge
Madonna: Look at my African jewelry #VMAs
— lgreene91 (@lgreene91) August 21, 2018
The worst part though might have been when “Bitch, I’m Madonna” was an actual line that was weaved into this “Aretha Franklin homage”.
Or maybe when she followed up her barely-Aretha-related anecdote with an anecdote exclusively about her own ‘Like a Virgin’ performance at the first VMAs.
I think Madonna took Leo Season too seriously.
Aretha Franklin's Tribute at the #VMAs:
1. Madonna talks about herself, at length, with Aretha as a footnote.
2. "Respect" is played at the very end.
3. A photo of Aretha with "1942-2018."
Bro, what? Disrespectful.
— Nia Langley✨ (@theNiaLangley) August 21, 2018
All in all, the whole thing was a train wreck and Aretha Franklin deserves infinitely better.