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 controversy. .
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.