Never a stranger to controversy, pop singer Madonna has been attracting criticism since her latest album, MDNA, was released in March for her frank and unapologetic use of a swastika during the corresponding international tour. The image drew criticism from fans and brought her a lawsuit threat from France's National Front party -- whose leader, Marine Le Pen, is shown on video with the Nazi symbol superimposed on her face during Madonna's performance of the song Nobody Knows Me.
Speaking in an interview for a Brazilian TV channel, Madonna said all the images used in her performance were indeed chosen purposefully. That film that was created is about the intolerance that we human beings have for one another and how much we judge people before knowing them, she said.
The National Front declared its intention to sue the 53-year old American singer after she continued to use the swastika at her concert in the Stade de France on July 14, which is Bastille Day, the national holiday. The party's vice president, Florian Philippot, said it could not accept such an odious comparison, the BBC notes.
Madonna, for her part, refused to remove the offending imagery from the performance, saying before her concert in Brazil that all images in the video were chosen purposefully.
There seems to be a growing intolerance around the world, she said. In Greece, France, everywhere people are trying to kick out all the immigrants, make people cover up and not show what their religious affiliation is. Think about what's going on in Russia towards the gay community.
I'm calling attention to that intolerance and asking people to pay attention, she said, and invoked the swastika specifically to wake up to see how we are just creating more chaos in the world.
Giving a performance with the swastika image has not been the only controversial stunt on Madonna's MDNA tour, or even the only controversy of the week. Last Saturday during a performance in Edinburgh, Scotland, she brandished a gun onstage despite requests from local authorities to remove the act in light of the recent shooting in Aurora, Colo. The same day she performed heedless of these warnings, incidentally, a vigil was held for victims of the massacre.
Speaking to the swastika controversy, Madonna said she believed it is an artist's responsibility to call attention to world events and to help bring people together.
Art is there to track what's going on in the world, to make social commentary, she said.