Madonna was chosen to present a tribute to the late, great Aretha Franklin at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards. It’s an odd pick — Aretha was the Queen of Soul, and Madonna is a pop singer. Fans were already confused before Madonna even opened her mouth.
Once she did, things got even worse.
Madonna spoke for 10 minutes straight, and much of that time wasn’t actually about Aretha at all. Instead, Madonna spoke at length about her own career in the music business. Then she thanked Aretha for “empowering all of us. R.E.S.P.E.C.T.”
Behind the mic, Madonna wore all-black with colorful “African” jewelry, which some say is also a mark of cultural appropriation, Business Insider reports.
After her rambling speech, she went on to present the Video of the Year award to Camila Cabello.
Critics aren’t happy with the VMAs’ way of honoring Aretha, who died on Thursday after decades of legendary soul music. There was no live musical performance to honor her. The speech itself was more about Madonna than it was about Aretha.
The backlash on Twitter was swift and immediate.
“I’m so lost,” radio host Charlemagne Tha God tweeted. “I thought Madonna was supposed to be paying homage to Aretha but all I heard was her paying homage to herself.”
“Does Madonna know Madonna didn’t die?” tweeted ESPN’s Katie Nolan.
“Madonna presents an Aretha Franklin tribute by Madonna featuring Madonna with Madonna and Madonna as ‘Madonna’,” joked Marc Snetiker.
Some users are calling for an apology from MTV for the botched tribute.
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