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What’s the real meaning behind Madonna’s #rebelheart photos?

When Madonna took to social media to tease haters, “I have so much more for you to be mad at… be patient!” the Queen of Controversy sure didn’t waste time making good on her promise.

The following day, she posted a series of Instagram photos even her fans are having a hard time wrapping their heads around.

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In the Photoshopped snaps, Madonna transposes the art from the cover of her album Rebel Heart — which features her face bound in black cording — onto images of iconic figures Bob Marley, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr.

The reaction? Well, let’s just say fans are exercising their rebel hearts by lashing out at Madge over the perceived publicity stunt. But let’s talk about the real meaning behind Madonna’s #rebelheart photos.

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In actuality, Marley, Mandela and King Jr. aren’t the only historical figures the pop star gave the #rebelheart treatment.

Two days before Christmas, Madonna posted this picture of artist Frida Kahlo.

The caption — “One of my favorite Rebel Hearts!” — makes it clear this is someone Madonna admires and respects.

On Dec. 30, it was Jesus’ turn.

She captioned the pic, “One of the first #rebelhearts.” Then, just two days ago, she posted a similarly Photoshopped version of blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe, proclaiming her “The most beautiful #rebelheart.”

And although many people were none too pleased at the post of Jesus, it wasn’t until Madonna revealed her #rebelheart interpretation of the black civil rights icons that social media collectively lost its cool.

I get it. I mean, racial tension in this country sadly seems to be at a fever pitch right now, so the fact that Madonna is using images of prominent black civil rights icons could easily be perceived as a distasteful marketing ploy.

However, as ill-timed as this string of photos seems to be, the meaning behind Madonna’s #rebelhearts pics seems to be, well, rebellion.

I imagine the black wire binding her face is symbolic of the repression of expectations — being tied down and even suffocated by the limitiations society imposes. A person who has a rebel heart is someone who pushes the boundaries… who fights to free themselves from the binding.

In that respect, Madonna fits the bill. I don’t think anyone can argue that she hasn’t taken a stand over the years for feminism and against sexual repression and against censorship.

She obviously respects men like Marley and Mandela and King Jr. and admires how they stood up for what they believed in. She likely relates to them, too.

Just as she relates to Marilyn Monroe and Frida Kahlo.

While I understand the problem that people have with Madonna — a musician — comparing herself to these men who impacted the world in such profound ways, I’m not entirely convinced Madonna deserves all the ire being tossed her way.

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Isn’t it possible she was simply trying to pay these greats respect? Are are we so cynical that we can’t fathom the real meaning behind her #rebelheart campaign might be about more than just album sales?

What do you think? Was Madonna totally out of line, or was she just honoring these iconic figures?

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