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News and professional editorials

Madonna Kissing Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera on the August 2003 Video Music Awards

So many articles appeared on this news item, that I created its own section

Madonna kissing Spears CLICK HERE FOR ITEMS ON THE 2003 VMAs

People are just now realizing that Madonna rips off others? Better late than never, I suppose.

October 2003

» Madonna video row, By Laura Benjamin, Daily Mail

» Madonna in Legal Battle over ["Hollywood"] Music Video

» Madonna sued by son of 'French vogue' photographer, from Ananova

» Madonna Sued for Hollywood Pose, from BBC News

» Madonna's Sexy Poses a Rip-Off? from E! Online

» Madonna in legal battle over video

A couple of photographic examples of Madonna's thefts (more can be viewed at The Smoking Gun):

Madonna Meets Middle Age

by Diana West

September 22, 2003


In times like these — times of heightened discord and possibly tectonic upheaval — there's little reason to linger on a culture-blip like the publishing launch of a series of kiddie books by Madonna.

No doubt there are contrasts to be drawn between the semi-retired pop queen's latest and most dubious incarnation as a tea-sipping sort of Mrs. Miniver who writes children's books, and her extremely sordid, extremely lucrative career as a pop-exhibitionist. (Said career in pop-exhibitionism includes one prior publishing lark as a porno-spread subject and author in a book called "Sex.")

Still, anyone who has successfully parried the thrust of all recent media hoopla — equal parts pretentious and nauseous-making — over Madonna and the kissing pop tarts on MTV will understand the reflexive instinct to shield the eyes from all Madonna news.

But the pop-ostrich in me just couldn't resist something Madonna said — a real mouthful — to the Times of London Sunday magazine.

It was about her 7-year-old daughter, Lourdes, and Madonna's long career of mass-marketing her own vulgar sexuality. Quoth Madonna (given her current and slavish pursuit of English toff-dom, she's bound to do a lot of quothing): "I protect her from sex full stop. She's not aware of sex, nor should she be. You know, we've had little conversations about where babies come from, but sex is not, and should not be, part of her repertoire right now."

Full stop? Given that Madonna is one of the pre-eminent despoilers of youthful innocence, this, as her new compatriots might say, is crust.

That is, there's Bill Clinton — whose lasting legacy is American youth's working knowledge of oral sex — and, of course, several generations of relentless promoters of sex, drugs and rock and roll; nonetheless, it is Madonna who first shredded virginity and wedding dresses into pop mega-hits, displaying a leave-us-alone exhibitionism that wreaked havoc on girlhood.

Well and good that Madonna has had "little conversations" with her daughter about where babies come from; but what about the conversations about where Mommy's riches come from? Later, Madonna says.

She says she someday plans to tell Lourdes her career as a sexual provocateur was all an act, which may or may not be comforting. "I'd explain that's me putting on a show. I'm playing a character, it's not really me. I'm being an actress. This may work for Madonna-the-delusionist.

Indeed, the 45-year-old wife and mother may have moved on permanently to floral prints, matching pumps and a kiddie book that is rooted, Madonna is quick to emphasize, in her seven-year study of Jewish mysticism.

The rest of us, meanwhile, remain stuck among her true spawn — little girls and big, baby Britneys and Madonna-wannabes, who believe that exhibitionism is liberation, that the birds and the bees equal "hooking up," and, almost worse of all, that bra straps and navels are outerwear.

Thus, has sexuality — to borrow a phrase from the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan — been defined down, down, down. Little mystery here — let alone mysticism.

No wonder Madonna hopes to protect her wee one. Which is precisely what many of us spend our own children's early years trying to do: We resist the extent to which sexuality, particularly female sexuality, has been snatched from its traditional time and place in human development — as a rite of passage to adulthood, to marriage, to having children — and grafted onto girlhood.

The sexualization of childhood may not have started with Madonna, but under her pop influence, and under that of her pop descendants, it became pretty irreversible.

Madonna says she has no regrets. But neither does she appear to understand her own leading role in coarsening the culture against which she now guards her daughter.

She does admit that what was cast as a crusade for sexual honesty in the 1980s and 1990s was really something of a scam. "Was I really trying to liberate people?" she asks rhetorically. "Or was I just being an exhibitionist and basking in the glory of being able to do what I wanted. I think that probably was mostly what it was." So do I.

But while she exhibited and basked and did what she wanted — and grew wealthy beyond exaggeration — she could always take shelter in an impervious cocoon of wealth and cultural influence. (The multitudes she influenced to bare all and do all, alas, had no such protection.)

Now that she has moved on a little bit, wearing specs and writing children's books, maybe she is finally trying to hide her tracks. We know for sure she is trying to hide her daughter. Not that she can, of course. Which is too bad, because the real Madonna — the notorious global persona — isn't too savory an influence on anybody's growing girl.

Madonna Sued for Copyright Infringement over use of Bourdin Photos in Hollywood Video

[skim over the 2004 news section, and you'll see that Madonna LOST this case, ha ha!]

» Madonna Sued For Copyright Infringement

from Chart Attack

September 30, 2003

Samuel Bourdin, son of the late fashion photographer Guy Bourdin, has filed a lawsuit against the singer. He claims that Madonna has copied 11 of his fathers' images and used identical backgrounds and poses in her new video, "Hollywood."

The lawsuit was filed on Friday in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Samuel Bourdin states that Madonna has committed copyright infringement of his fathers' works which were published in French Vogue from the mid-‘50s to the late ‘80s.

In the video (not to be confused with the "Hollywood" Gap ad), Madonna is shown with her legs spread while she sits atop a ‘50s style television. Bourdin Jr. alleges that the image is directly lifted from one of his father’s photos. In another shot, Madonna peers into an extendable round mirror. Samuel Bourdin claims that this image was also created by his father.

» Madonna Sued for Copyright Infringment

from Yahoo Launch

October 30, 2003

The late Guy Bourdin was a fashion photographer best known for his work for the French edition of Vogue magazine from the 1950s through the 1980s. Bourdin, whose photos were the subject of a recent exhibition at the Victoria & Albert museum in London, died in 1991. However, his son has filed a lawsuit against Madonna, claiming she stole Bourdin's intense graphic images for a montage of photos seen in the video for her song, "Hollywood."

Samuel Bourdin, who claims he owns the copyrights on his father's pictures, filed his lawsuit on Friday (September 26) in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The lawsuit includes comparisons of Bourdin's photos to the photo montage seen in Madonna's video. In a press release, Bourdin said, "It's one thing to draw inspiration; it's quite another to simply plagiarize the heart and soul of my father's work."

Samuel Bourdin is seeking unspecified damages from Madonna, her record company, and MTV, among others.

The website thesmokinggun.com has posted the photos and video stills online. In one example, Bourdin's photo shows a woman straddling a black-and-white TV, while the still photo from Madonna's video shows her in a surprisingly similar pose. Another original Bourdin photo shows a woman with red hair on a pink bed with mirrors behind her--the shot from Madonna's video is nearly identical.

First Vodka, Now Madonna: Che Guevara Image Still Sells: Madonna in Che Guervara's Beret

(also mentions Patty Hearst and Tania Guevara)

(This article was probably written in Spring of 2003)

Article showing how Madonna used Che and Tania Guervara's imagery and likeness for her American Life CD, for cheap publicity.


With Madonna, the beret functions in similar ways.

However, given the motives of the artist and the marketing machine behind the publicity, it becomes clear that the beret is a co-opted symbol, a referent "dislocated." The beret becomes a posturing, or, as Madonna might have put it a decade earlier, a "voguing" of a previous icon.

The beret helps Madonna package a product that promises to be an investigation of culture, gender roles, societal attitudes, cowboys, dance, fashion, and war. [but] . . . it becomes a symbol of commercially-motivated metamorphosis . . .

Tania Guevara
MAdonna ripping of Tania Guevara
Above, left: Tania Guevara ; Right: Madonna from her American Life compact disc