Let's talk about Madonna's post-Aurora decision to play with fake guns in her show

Okay, so this happened: Madonna had a show in Scotland on Saturday (part of her world tour, going on since late May) in which she and her dancers "waved" a bunch of fake machine guns and pistols, despite what happened in Aurora, Colorado a day before involving actual machine guns and pistols. She was warned against using such questionable props (which are actually banned in Scotland), but ignored the warnings and used them anyway, her staff claiming that nothing should stand in the way of "art." I'm sure the only thing we're missing here is context. Comforting, sense-making context... Oh, that was it? Madonna is just going out of her way to be an asshole and claim "art"? Okay then! Let's bolt all possible projectiles to the ground and handle this together.

I kinda think Madonna is pushing her luck here. Just a little. As in: Hey, Madonna -- you are just one of the people that history will forever refer to as one of the horrible people in the story about the Aurora movie theater shooting. While obviously not nearly as horrible as the person who committed the crime, nor as horrible as the people who believe that the massacre would have been prevented if the people in the audience either had more guns/religion, or even more courage. (Really.) But as an American musical and pop culture icon with many fans, when you are told that after a mass shooting that injured almost 60 people and killed 12 that using fake firearms in your show for fun is a bad idea, you should get your head out of your ass and listen to them. No one cares if this has been part of your tour since before the incident took place. The incident happened, and you have to do something different for a little while (not forever!), so as to avoid looking like an insensitive dick.

This is not about censorship, this is about being a person with a soul and a brain when your are doing something in public mere hours after a national tragedy occurs.

Unless she's making a statement on how upsettingly commonplace it is for children to play with guns as toys, for older humans to play with guns in movies, and for middle-aged women to play with guns onstage, and she's truly upset about what happened in Aurora, and on one level, her pain and anger over what has happened in her home country has put her on the same level as the psychopath that committed the mass murder, and this is all meant to be ironic.

But that's not what it sounds like so far. So far it sounds like she has no blessèd idea what's been happening in the news lately, and all the people working around her are 100 percent oblivious to everything unless it's about the person responsible for their paychecks:

"Madonna would rather cancel her show than censor her art," a member of her tour staff told HuffPost's Rob Shuter. "Her entire career, she has fought against people telling her what she can and cannot do. She’s not about to start listening to them now."

Oh, Madonna, you go, girl! A guy -- who has rigged his apartment to kill all who enter and surround the place -- walks into a midnight showing of a highly-anticipated movie, heavily armed with guns and gas canisters, body armor and a mask, sprays an unsuspecting audience of moviegoers with bullets, and commits horrific mass murder. It's a national tragedy. But hey, if you prance around the stage in a high school band uniform flashing fake guns in front of a different audience of people, less than two days after all that happens, it's art.

Guess what? I'm done with Madonna. You guys don't have to be. But unless she says something about this to let us all know that something was going on besides her own narcissistic display of self-righteousness -- and if that happens, I take all of this back and stand corrected (and that staffer who provided that quote should be fired in a humiliating fashion) -- this is just nasty, bad taste to a level that I am just not cool with. There has been worse "art" in response to tragedy, but I simply expected better from someone who has been wildly successful and popular for decades. A lot better.

It's just so... tacky.

Madonna & guns: Singer brandishes fake pistols & machine guns despite warnings, recent events [Huffington Post]


  1. Roger Waters played in Quebec on Saturday.  Removing the part of the concert where he strafes the audience with a machine gun wouldn’t really work very well (given the whole theatrical aspect of the concert).  I wonder how he handled the situation.

  2. Oh christ… we are not going to live in constant state of fear or politically correct repression, are we?  So she used guns in her show… WHO CARES!? I feel sorry for all of the victims from the atrocious crime committed on Thursday and Aurora, and believe me, I was deeply concerned and saddened.  However, allowing 1 stupid ass coward to completely change the way we think and act just means he’s winning.  Don’t let him win.

    1.  There is a point to the idea that we killed well more the half a million Iraqi civilians in the last 10 years, but suddenly gun-play is uncool when 19 white suburbanites die in Colorado.  Artists should making social commentary on Guns and violence just because it got too close for comfort for the proletariat the other night.

      That said,  Madonna is old jokes do apply and the term “artist” could just as easily be replaced by “spotlight chaser”.  She is on her way to be the next Cher.

  3. Have you heard Madonna interviewed recently?
    It’s just as well that you’re done with Madonna, she’s been done with you [and the rest of reality] for some time now.

  4. It’s had the desired effect; we are talking about Madonna, something that doesn’t happen as much lately as Madonna would prefer.  She evidently prefers bad publicity to no publicity. I think she knew exactly what she was doing.

  5. I didn’t see the show, but traveled on the same train as a lot of people coming back from the show. The Scottish fans were pretty upset, or at least the ones on the train were. Of course, they had all walked out early.

  6. I seriously doubt the Scots are that traumatized by an event that took place 4000 + miles away.

  7. Am I to understand that on this planet, guns only killed people in Aurora CO that day? And this translates to a Madonna show in Scotland somehow. But the next day, although guns killed people in Syria, Madonna held her show again in a different part of the world and it was no big whoop. Once Madonna doesn’t have guns, only Madonna wannabes will have guns.

  8. Not defending the insensitivity of what she did, but didn’t the Scots ask her not to because of a law they have about fake guns on stage (brought in after the Dunblane massacre in 1996), as opposed to a call for sensitivity for Aurora? Just seems a little heavy-handed, and makes us want to hate her for defying the cops for a reason that didn’t actually happen.

  9. “despite what happened in Aurora, Colorado a day before involving actual machine guns and pistols.”

    That is factually incorrect. The gun in question was a semi-automatic rifle. 

    1. Facts?  We don’t need no facts!  We’re outraged about a celebrity, damn you!

  10. More like “Madonna still alive: ‘Singer’ continues performing despite irrelevancy and grossness” (/troll)

  11. Waving fake guns around in a show is certainly insensitive to the victims of gun violence, but sanctimoniousness after a particular tragedy is not helpful. I suggest that mustering up a bit more outrage in connection to the 200+ Americans killed by guns *every day* would be more helpful.

  12. I live in a state (California)that has the most strict gun laws yet which cranks out entertainment that absolutely fetishizes guns in the most juvenile ways.  It’s essentially an insane culture where a gun’s primary purpose is seen as being a prop or a fashion accessory and not a dangerous tool that requres responsible use.

  13. I don’t really think she needs to alter her performance because of Colorado, but I do think that this “artistic” use of gun props is a pretty hackneyed way to try to appear shocking or dangerous, or whatever it was she was going for…..

  14. Maybe we should be worrying about actual guns used in real life rather than props in a concert.

  15. Oh come on! 
    Why would one of the many shootings that took place in America that day/week etc. be a reason for her to change the show? She wasn’t even in America at the time of her show. Do they expect every play, film and tv show that features guns to be cancelled because of it? What happened in that cinema is sad but this type of reaction is absurd.

  16. What Madonna’s show and the unfortunate tragedy in Colorado have to do with each other is beyond me. With all the wars and strife going on in the world, it amazes me that bb decides to jump on this particular concert to decry the use of prop guns.

  17. Forget the guns.  You got Mom stuffing herself into leather and dancing around not so much differently than she did 30 years ago and calling it “art.” 

    Isn’t that bad enough?  *shivver*

  18. I’ve been done with Madonna since the mid-eighties but this doesn’t bother me.

    The ignoring of “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, …” bothers me. 
    What militia was James Eagan Holmes a member of? 
    None?  How could he bear arms? 

    Jamie Frevele,
    how do you feel about the millions of people that have watched this ultra violent Batman flick since the madman claimed to be the Joker. 

    What does Madonna, with toy guns, in Scotland, have to do with insanely lax gun control?

  19. Madonna using gun props half a world away is insensitive.

    Continuing to show the movie, well, we wouldn’t want the terrorists to win right?

    Seriously, are we now just inventing things to be outraged about now?

  20. I despise Madonna not for the piss-poor quality of her music, or for her lame controversy-baiting tactics, but for the simple fact that, for all her rhetoric about women becoming “empowered” and “respectable” and “dignified”, she herself set the example that all a woman has to do to succeed in a man’s world is to be just as crass and venal as men are.

  21. 107 people died in mass shooting and bombings across Iraq today.

    The loss of innocent Iraqi lives is not worth outrage? And how many innocent people die from gun violence daily, either in the US or worldwide?

    My heart really does go out to all of the victims of Aurora and their families (for all that a random Internet commenter’s sympathies are worth), but given the incidence of violence in this world, communal lamentations over tragic events that happen to strike developed world middle class communities seem a little hypocritical.

    Also, what is the motivation behind removing “insensitive” reminders of guns after a gun-related tragedy? For a while we consider it rude to remind ourselves that guns are widespread in this world?

    The author is entitled to her opinion, of course, but I cannot agree with it.

  22. Those who were offended by this waving of fake guns in a faded pop star’s music and dance show are CHOOSING to be offended.

    I would have expected Boing Boing to stand for more than protecting the easily-offended from seeing things that they then choose to get upset about.

    If I was doing rock shows right now, and if it fit with the style of one of my songs, I’d probably stage something similar to what happened (with fake weapons, of course) as part of the show, in order to give the audience something special to remember, and some extreme emotion to associate with that memory.

    Only, I wouldn’t do this in the US, for fear that the event might turn into a real bloodbath from the people in the audience carrying guns in order to (allegedly) stop this kind of incident.

  23. Madonna?  Tasteless?  Say it isn’t so….

    That said, I agree with everyone else who pointed out that you didn’t complain after shootings in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, et al.

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