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An Analysis of the Video "like a Prayer" by Madonna

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Essay title: An Analysis of the Video "like a Prayer" by Madonna

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?


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