The Point

The Point: Madonna and Aretha


John Stonestreet

When you really think about it, it’s not that shocking.

When Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin passed away last week, producers of MTV’s Video Music Awards scrambled to include a tribute to her in the program, which aired Monday night. They thought they had a winner by tagging Madonna, known as the Queen of Pop, to deliver the tribute.

But they did not. Madonna’s rambling, self-absorbed non-tribute, in which she talked way more about herself than Aretha Franklin, offended many. Twitter, as usual, was brutal. “Does Madonna know Madonna didn’t die?” asked one. Another summed up Madonna’s tribute this way, “If it wasn’t for Aretha, we wouldn’t have Madonna.”

The whole thing was tone deaf and disrespectful, but hearing the complaining made me wonder, “Are we really that surprised?” The VMA’s have always celebrated celebrities, not artists. The entire production is an annual festival of narcissism and self-absorption, in which fame—not goodness—is considered the ultimate accomplishment. Why would we suddenly be shocked when the tree bears its fruit?


Image: YouTube


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