At a time in which any anti-war sentiment could result in censorship from multiple radio stations, Madonna made her thoughts very clear in a controversial music video for “American Life.” The video was interpreted as a statement against the Iraq War, and while Madonna didn’t particularly care that it was viewed this way, she actually intended to speak ill of war in general, as she told Q Magazine.
The ultimate example of Madonna not caring what people think of her love life occurred when she dated Vanilla Ice in the early ’90s, at which point it was obvious he was not the musician of the future.
When Madonna performed her classic hit “Like a Virgin” at the MTV VMAs, she burst out of a giant wedding cake. This performance may seem tame today, but at the time, it received a lot of backlash. Publicist Liv Rosenberg later told Billboard that everybody thought that the cake stunt would end Madonna’s career. Clearly, the naysayers were wrong.
Madonna was not pleased when people complained about the sexually explicit nature of her “Justify My Love” music video. She felt that it was unfair to criticize the video and be perfectly OK with violence in the movies.
Nobody particularly liked Madonna and Sean Penn’s film Shanghai Surprise, and it’s not just the writing or directing that drew complaints — Madonna won a Raspberry Award for Worst Actress. This definitely did not stop her from acting, and she went on to enjoy a successful film career.
Sexually explicit material featuring Madonna is not only limited to the music and film industries. She also released a coffee table book about her favorite topic and included controversial cameos from Big Daddy Kane and Joey Stefano.