And Martin Luther King, And John Lennon. And Jesus.
But, with her most recent jaw-droppingly misjudged post, the debate is no longer charmingly eccentric or utterly cringe-inducing, but something else entirely.
On Thursday, the Material Girl shared a Covid-19 vaccination conspiracy theory.
Instagram promptly flagged her account for spreading misinformation and deleted the post, but the damage was done.
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In her message, the 61-year-old claimed a vaccine was being concealed, adding: ’They would rather let fear control the people and let the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.’
David Baddiel put it best when he then said on Twitter: ‘Madonna knows she’s rich, right?’
I, for one, am confused.
As recently as 12 months ago I thought Madonna’s icon status was carved in stone. Back then, a reasonable response to her surreal social media conduct was a simple ‘someone should take her phone away from her’, followed by an eye roll, a laugh and another spin of Don’t Tell Me.
But 2020 is a different beast.
Our collective patience has been pushed to the limit. We’re viewing the world, including celebrities and public figures, through a different lens.
Sure, famous faces survive multiple cancellations these days. They seem to get away with saying and doing increasingly controversial things. But not without the gentle erosion of a legacy.
The point is, nobody’s untouchable anymore, including Madonna. For a die-hard fan like me, that’s worrying.
Before I continue, let me be clear: I’m a huge Madonna fan. As a 90s gay kid, she was my spiritual mother; her seminal album Ray of Light, my Bible. I had The Next Best Thing on VHS.
Upon moving to London in 2008, I headed straight to Leicester Square to catch a glimpse of her at the RocknRolla premiere.
I’ve previously said ‘Madonna will never be over. Deal with it.’ And I want to believe that’s still true. But I’m just not sure anymore.
What is unmovable, however, is her history.
Madonna is the highest-selling female musician of all time. Even if she’s overtaken, no one can take this achievement away from her. Her prolific philanthropy is also undeniable, as is her HIV and AIDS activism, and amazing contribution to the progression of LGBT rights.
But, evidently, it only takes one misstep to undo years of hard work. Case in point: that aforementioned Instagram post.
In it, Madonna called anti-LGBT doctor Stella Immanuel – the source of the conspiracy – her ‘hero.’ This might not result in outright cancellation across the board, but for some queer people, often among the most loyal of fans, there’s no going back now.
I tell myself: ‘Surely she posted it without thinking, without researching?’ We’ve all been there, right? And now, the self-professed ‘Unapologetic Bitch’ is too proud to put things right.
If so, she’s only doing what she’s always done. She’s provocation personified. Her daring has changed the way society talks about sex and many other once-taboo subjects, and for that we’re indebted.
So why should she change her behaviour now she’s in her 60s? Why should the woman who sang Express Yourself cease to… express herself?
The short answer is, she shouldn’t. And all criticism of her must be scrutinised for evidence of sexism and ageism.
I hope mine comes from a constructive and loving place, and not one of subconscious prejudice. And I hope she can rectify the few genuine mistakes she’s made. I want to hear that upcoming Dua Lipa collaboration, after all.
But I can’t deny I feel uneasy.
Madonna’s fall from grace, once inconceivable, now seems a genuine possibility. What’s worse is we might already be in the middle of it.
Metro.co.uk has contacted Madonna’s reps for comment.
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