By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
After Aretha Franklin’s death last Thursday, MTV quickly added some R.E.S.P.E.C.T. to its broadcast of the Video Music Awards (VMAs), which aired Monday night. Yet in choosing Madonna to say a few words about the legendary singer, MTV’s efforts backfired tremendously, as the pop artist has fellow celebs, fans and Twitter’s Black delegation saying that her homage to Franklin was more like D.I.S.R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
Madonna received a drubbing for her Aretha Franklin “tribute” at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Madonna was asked to present the video of the year award and talk about Franklin. However her speech turned more into a long anecdote about herself with the underscore of Franklin’s music helping the pop star’s career. She explained that early in her career she sang Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” in a last minute decision after forgetting her sheet music and not preparing another song. Madonna said she knew the song “by heart” and sung it acapella even though two men auditioning her did not believe “some skinny-ass White girl” could “belt out a song by one of the greatest soul singers that ever lived.”
Before breaking down her tribute, it must be noted that the anecdote was an odd story choice as Madonna then said the audition really led to a dead-end opportunity.
Veering the tribute towards the honoree, Madonna continued that Franklin “led me to where I am today.”
“I want to thank you, Aretha, for empowering all of us. R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” she said in her presentation.
Yet even after wrapping with, “Long live the queen,” many fans and celebs alike were unimpressed with Madonna’s tribute.
“#Madonna is demonstrating a dynamic performance of peak white womanhood. This was not an #Aretha tribute but a monologue on how another iconic Black woman is being reduced to how she helped a white woman,” Twitter user, @blacqueerflow wrote.
So all the black artist they could call to talk about the legacy of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin and MTV brought out Madonna to mention Aretha one time in her long ass story???? #VMAs D.I.S.R.E.S.P.E.C.T. pic.twitter.com/9wAmpxH74k
— Joy Henry (@joibella19) August 21, 2018
Even celebrities weighed in on the Madonna shame and shade throwing.
“Did Madonna make her Aretha Tribute about Madonna with a sprinkle of Aretha’s name in it,” basketball player Jamal Crawford wrote.
Singer Eryn Allen Kane wrote in all capital letters to express her frustration.“WHOEVER LET THAT WHITE WOMAN WITH A GRILL GET UP THERE AND TALK ABOUT HERSELF LIKE A FOOL SHOULD BE SMACKED IN THE FACE WITH A FROZEN STEAK!! THAT WAS A COMPLETE DISGRACE TO ARETHA!!! Ugh. Whyyy Madonna?! WHY?!?!”
Aretha watching Madonna’s tribute to her from heaven …. pic.twitter.com/fuMkCCf1AT
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) August 21, 2018
With the Black delegation and Aretha Franklin fans calling out Madonna’s speech as disrespectful, the pop star is copping a plea, saying that her words were not intended as a tribute to the Queen of Soul.
“I was asked to present video of the year by MTV! And then they asked me to share any anecdotes I had in my career connected to Aretha Franklin! I shared a part of my journey and thanked Aretha for inspiring me along the way. I did not intend to do a tribute to her,” Madonna wrote in an Instagram post. “That would be impossible in 2 minutes with all the noise and tinsel of an award show. I could never do her justice in this context or environment.”
Not taking any responsibility for the Franklin faux pas, Madonna blamed the fans.
“Unfortunately most people have short attention spans, and are so quick to judge. I love Aretha! R.E.S.P.E.C.T.,” she wrote.
MTV has not said anything regarding the Madonna Aretha debacle.