Madonna in bitter war of words with Malawi after recent visit
is cheap and tawdry stuff,” Gould wrote, sounding very much like The Hollywood Reporter’s Halperin who last week wondered about Cyrus: “… was that the plan all along? To shock the masses and stir a social media frenzy while corporate sponsors clapped along, gleefully counting impressions?” Or like Amanda Marcotte of Slate who wrote, “Miley Cyrus was so obviously trying to push your buttons, people. Teddy bears to stripping? Oldest trick in the book!” How do we forget that our biggest, most envelope-pushing acts were once accused of being vulgar and — perhaps worse for a would-be pop superstar — unoriginal? Amy Lynn Wlodarski, an associate professor of music at Dickinson College, agrees with psychology professor Routledge that it is all a matter of context: “We have, to some extent, canonized Elvis and Madonna as pop-icon figures.” She continues: “Their controversial pasts are less relevant now … because of the broader impact that each had within the history of popular music. It becomes a more heroic narrative — one in which their supposed transgressions are now interpreted as misunderstood, and they are repositioned as a figure ahead of his or her time.” So does that mean Miley Cyrus will be as big as Elvis, Madonna or Britney? Routledge laughs. “I’m not suggesting that 10 years from now we’ll say, yeah, Miley Cyrus’s performance was amazing — paradigm changing! But this happens over and over again and we do look back nostalgically on these experiences and spin them in a more positive light.” As for Miley, she’s already benefiting from the attention. Over 90,000 digital copies of her new song “Wrecking Ball” have sold, propelled by the more than 300,000 tweets per minute that she reportedly generated at her peak during the VMA broadcast (triple the peak tweets of 98,000 at last year’s VMAs). After her performance, Larry Rudolph, Cyrus’s manager, didn’t race to his client’s dressing room to scold her.
Despite her charitable involvement and fame, the government said, it is not obligated to give her special treatment. “Madonna feels that the Malawi government and its leadership should have abandoned everything and attended to her because she believes she is a music star turned benefactor,” Tusekele Mwanyongo, a government spokesman, said in a statement posted by the nation’s media outlets. “Granted, Madonna is a famed international musician. But that does not impose an injunction of obligation on any government … to give her state treatment. Such treatment, even if she deserved it, is discretionary not obligatory.” The spokesman did not provide specific details on what kind of special treatment Madonna reportedly asked for. “I’m saddened that Malawi’s President Joyce Banda has chosen to release lies about what we’ve accomplished, my intentions, how I personally conducted myself while visiting Malawi and other untruths,” Madonna said in a statement. “I have no intentions of being distracted by these ridiculous allegations. I came to Malawi seven years ago with honorable intentions. I returned earlier this month to view the new schools we built. I did not ever ask or demand special treatment at the airport or elsewhere during my visit.” In her statement, Madonna said the animosity is a result of her history with the president’s sister, Anjimile Mtila Oponyo, who once headed Raising Malawi. Oponyo was later fired, and sued the nonprofit for wrongful termination.