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An Analysis Of The Video “Like A Prayer” By Madonna Essay, Research Paper

An Analysis of the Video "Like A Prayer" by Madonna

Madonna first arrived in the national popular culture in 1984 with

her song "Borderline". She moved very quickly in the ensuing years

to make several records (many of which have gone multi-platinum)

and to take several world tours with sold-out concerts, and has

caused quite a bit of controversy in what she has done in the

public eye. Examples include posing nude for Penthouse magazine

(and announcing afterwards that she was not ashamed for doing it),

marrying (and subsequently divorcing) actor and media-avoider Sean

Penn, creating a fashion trend (which was primarily popular with

teenage girls), and making truly atrocious movies which the

critics hated and the people refused to see (the only two

exceptions are Dick Tracy and Truth or Dare, her controversial yet

fascinating self-documentary about her tour of the same name). It

seems that Madonna seems to enjoy attention, good or bad, and it

seems like she feeds on her own controversy. Her songs, and the

music videos which accompany them, are no exception to this.

However, the things she does and the images she projects requests

contemporary society to reflect on itself, and to possibly

re-create itself in innovative and inventive styles. Perhaps she

always breaks with convention because she sees things in a

different light than the rest of society. This essay shall focus

on the video which accompanies the title track from her 1989

album, "Like A Prayer," which certainly had its share of


Probably the most startling image in the music video was that of

several burning crosses on a lawn or a hill. These crosses were in

the background, while Madonna was facing the camera and singing.

When I saw the music video for the first time, this particular

section of the video made me sit up and intently watch my

television screen. The first things I thought about were, "She’s a

very outspoken woman for doing this! Boy, she’s got a lot of

nerve! I believe she was raised Catholic, and she’s making a

mockery of the Catholic Church by doing so! The Pope would be

offended, to say the least!" The radical approach to dispose of

any religion (or a person’s religious or pious fervor) is at least

shocking. The cross is the symbol of Christianity and all it

stands for. Seeing the cross engulfed in fire — which symbolizes

(and is) a destructive force — would be very disturbing for

anyone to see, Christian or not. I sat up and took notice, and I’m

not even Christian — I am Jewish. Furthermore, the fact that

Madonna is singing in front of the crosses (and consequently, not

doing anything to stop the crosses burning) implies that she

condones cross-burning. This thought asks three questions. Does

she also condone the Ku Klux Klan, which also burns crosses? Does

she like the idea of religion and/or atheism in any way at all?

Does Madonna believe in God? These are all very deep and probing

questions, which can only be answered truthfully by Madonna


Another small piece of the music video showed Madonna kissing a

black man. While I personally feel that love is blind and has no

boundaries, a vast majority of America cocked an eyebrow to this

scene. In recent years, a television situation comedy and a major

motion picture have both built on interracial relationships as the

core of the storyline. "True Colors" was on the Fox Network, built

around a black man married to a white woman. Spike Lee’s movie

"Jungle Fever" also had a black man and a white woman. Lee’s

reason why he did a story of a black man and a white woman (and

not a white man and a black woman) was that the white woman has

been stereotyped to be the essence of all beauty, and that the

black man has been stereotyped to be a stud. (It is true that

films and television shows have been made which focused on

relationships between white men and black women; an example is the

film "Soul Man.") Does Madonna have any feelings for men of other

races? Should America care? Knowing Madonna’s sexual liberalism

(she "confessed" to having partial feelings for women in an

interview), has she and/or will she seek out alternative methods

to satisfy her sexuality and her sexual curiosity?

Both Madonna and the controversy she causes are interesting to

watch. The public keeps a sharp eye on what she does because she

is an outspoken individual who knows how to market herself to the

worldwide media. She always strays from the norm, and she always

gives her brash opinions on particular establishments, and acts on

those opinions afterwards. Many people have many opinions about

her, and many people speak their mind about her. This is what she

likes — to listen to people talking about her. She loves the

attention and uses it to her advantage. My opinion of Madonna is

that what she doesn’t have in pure talent (and I think that she’s

a little lacking in the talent department), she makes up for with

creativity, controversy, intelligence (she attended the University

of Michigan — called by some to be the best public school in the

nation) and sexuality (she is an extremely beautiful woman — I

saw her Penthouse layout) to literally guarantee an audience. It

is for this ingenuity that I respect her.

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