This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
Madonna is nothing if not the Queen of Reinvention. And the Material Girl was at it again this week, sending shockwaves by revealing that her latest reinvention is as a Karen.
Pushed and promoted by Donald Trump, shared and consumed wildly by the Plandemic crowd on social media, and debunked by just about every reputable scientist, doctor, or casual viewer with three brain cells, the video shares the views of one Dr. Stella Immanuel. Her claims are so harmful we won’t give them space here, but suffice it to say they were enthusiastically embraced by the anti-mask community.
So yes, Madonna’s Instagram post singing her praises was deleted for, as my colleague Will Sommer summarized in his searing exposé on Immanuel, “pushing the coronavirus theories of a Houston doctor who also says sexual visitations by demons and alien DNA are at the root of Americans’ common health concerns.”
Madonna had gone full QAnon Karen. Qaren? Still workshopping that one.
But anyway the point is, MY GOD does it suck that Madonna did that. On the one hand, what the hell!? On the other hand, maybe we should be used to this by now. The running theme of being a huge Madonna fan in recent years is that it really kind of blows to be a huge Madonna fan in recent years. Basically, you’re just habitually disappointed by Madonna.
Case in point: On Monday, Dua Lipa announced a remix was coming of her standout track “Levitating” featuring Missy Elliott and Madonna. My reaction: QUEENS! LEGENDS! WE DO NOT DESERVE! INJECT INTO MY VEINS! GIVE IT TO ME NOW! (I sat silently on my couch while scrolling through my phone and liked the tweet announcing it. But spiritually…)
Not 24 hours later, that very phone was being chucked violently across the room, when that night’s scrolling surfaced Madonna’s reposting of the controversial video hyping Dr. Demon Sperm’s wack-job video.
The caption, which we were impressed she managed to type, what with the weight of the tinfoil hat on her head probably making it difficult to see her phone: “The truth will set us all Free! But some people don’t want to hear the truth. Especially the people in power who stand to make money from this long drawn out search of a vaccine which has been proven and reliable for months. They would rather let fear control the people and let the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This woman is my hero. Thank you Stella Immanuel.”
It’s all so outrageous that fans were certain she had been hacked and would soon explain herself. What they got instead was a video of a desert sunset narrated by her Kabbalah teacher, Eitan Yardeni, with the note, “I will spread the teachings of all the great prophets if they resonate with me. They all have something to teach us. They all came here to teach us. One of the most important teachings is tolerance and forgiveness.”
Once upon a time, Madonna was a prophet of sorts for many people, too. I mean, in the pop-culture sense, sure, but I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that. Her fearlessness, her agency, and her own blend of rebelliousness tinged with compassion for those who needed to feel seen is what elevated her to the exalted stature she has occupied for so many fans. The fans who so many times lately have been left with no other recourse but to heavy-sigh and groan: Just... why?
To start, if only this was the first controversial stance Madonna has had about the coronavirus pandemic. (Has there been a more upsetting phrase than “breathe in the COVID-19 air”?) Then there are her ties to and promotion of Louis Farrakhan. Her tone-deaf tribute to George Floyd. The “God Control” video. This is all just in the last three months.
There was a time when it was a good thing to hear that Madonna was causing an uproar. Now it’s just wearing down her fans’ defenses. It’s not a new problem for fans: deciding just how far they’re willing to stretch in order to separate a celebrity’s behavior from the work they love. But it’s not a particularly fun problem for the generations who have loved Madonna.