Photo Credit: David J. Hogan/Getty Images
Madonna rarely backs down from a controversy, but after a legal threat from a French political party, it appears that she's toned down her act. The pop legend has removed a controversial image from her concert: a video image of far-right French politician Marine Le Pen with a swastika on her face, which morphed into a photograph of Hitler.
The "Girl Gone Wild" singer first unveiled the Le Pen-bashing video collage in May, during a concert in Tel Aviv. Even though Le Pen threatened to sue, Madonna went ahead and repeated the stunt during a Bastille Day concert in Paris (where Le Pen's extreme National Front party has a great deal of popular support).
"I've heard that a certain Marine Le Pen was upset with me. It's not my intention to make enemies ... It's my intention to promote tolerance," the singer told an audience in July. "And when we start saying that we have to get rid of this person or we have to get rid of that person, because then we'll have a better place, it starts to sound like something else, it starts to sound like something scary. So the next time you want to point the finger at somebody and blame them for a problem in your life, take that finger and point it back at you."
Sure enough, the National Front party filed a lawsuit against the singer for public insult and defamation, and Le Pen threatened further legal action if she continued to use the image.
Madonna didn't announce a change, but during her Tuesday performance in Nice, France, she replaced the swastika on Le Pen's forehead with a question mark.
"To my knowledge, Madonna has never changed a video before. It's proof that our arguments won out. It's excellent news," a representative from the National Front Party told the U.K.'s Guardian, although French newspapers described Madonna's move as "appeasing," "giving in" or "calming the controversy."
We seriously doubt that being sued actually changed Madonna's mind about the National Front party, which opposes gay marriage, seeks to reduce or abolish immigration, and has a history of anti-Semitism. More likely, she got skittish after being the subject of another lawsuit earlier this week. On Monday, nine Russian anti-gay activists sued the pop star for $10.5 million dollars, after she asked a St. Petersberg audience to raise their hands in support of gays and lesbians. (Apparently, it's illegal to "promote homosexuality to minors" in the city.) Madonna has also garnered criticism in Russia for supporting the band Pussy Riot, whose members have been sentenced to two years in jail for staging a public protest.
It all makes us nostalgic for June, when the most controversial thing about Madonna's tour was the time she mooned the audience. Ah, the good old days.