Madonna’s Tribute to Aretha Lacked R.E.S.P.E.C.T

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Madonna’s Tribute to Aretha Lacked R.E.S.P.E.C.T

Soumya Sahay, Page Editor

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As a tribute to Aretha Franklin’s recent passing, Madonna spoke live at the VMAs to show her support and love for the late vocalist. However, some saw Madonna’s speech as the opposite, being offensive and disrespectful.

 “Instead of paying tribute to a legend properly, she made it about herself. I think she should have just owned up to it,” Sandhya Krishna (‘21).

 Franklin died at age 76 earlier this month from her ongoing struggle with pancreatic cancer.

Madonna was responsible for announcing the Video of The Year award to the 2018 winner, Camila Cabello. She was also asked to prepare a short speech about herself and her struggle with being a performer.

“I know that the speech sparked some controversy. She was giving a tribute while also promoting herself, but if it was unintentional. I think we can forgive her. Everybody makes mistakes,” said Mika Lew (‘19).

The singer was informed about Aretha Franklin’s passing very close to the date of the VMAs, and was then told to integrate a tribute to her in her speech. However, many believe this speech lacked the compassion and respect they expected from Madonna.

After the VMAs, people spoke about about how they felt the tribute was self-indulgent and overall disrespectful. The incident quickly blew up over the internet and social media.

It was reported that Madonna spoke the word “I” more than 50 times throughout her tribute to The Queen Of Soul. Some were even calling it a tribute for Madonna instead of Franklin.

Fans of Madonna were quick to come to her rescue and tried to make sense of the incident and why Madonna said what she said. Many said they believed her intentions were pure.

“I don’t really think it was disrespectful because she needs to be noticed, so no matter what way Madonna chose to recognize Aretha Franklin, I think it’s good that people are recognizing her,” said Aria Tribedi (‘22).

Regardless of how Madonna paid her tribute to the late singer Aretha Franklin, she still spoke highly of her, and revealed that she had previously auditioned with “Natural Woman” by Aretha.

Madonna responded to all the controversy with an instagram post.  

“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. Unfortunately most people have short attention spans, and are so quick to judge. I love Aretha! R.E.S.P.E.C.T,” posted Madonna.

Others around the world showed their love for Franklin at a public viewing funeral on the 28th and 29th of August at Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

Madonna Sparked anger for her speech at the VMAs.


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