Madonna caught a lot of heat last night (August 20) at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards after she gave a speech to honor Aretha Frankin—who passed away last week—that was all about herself. The tribute started off strong—”Aretha Louise Franklin changed the course of my life,” she said—but soon descended into a stream-of-consciousness monologue about the early stages of Madonna’s career. The tie she made to Franklin was loose: Madonna explained that during one of her early auditions, she asked to sing “Respect” on the fly because she had nothing else prepared. In fact, if Franklin’s face wasn’t projected onto the screen behind Madonna, this wouldn’t have felt like a tribute at all.
Which is why Franklin’s fans are so upset. Hundreds of people took to Twitter to criticize Madonna’s speech, accusing her of erasure, cultural appropriation, and self-indulgence. Madonna didn’t respond to the backlash last night, but she just took to Instagram this afternoon (August 21) to address it.
“Just to clarify: I was asked to present Video of the Year by MTV,” Madonna captioned a photo of herself and Camila Cabello, who ultimately took home that award. “And then they asked me to share any anecdotes I had in my career connected to Aretha Franklin! I shared a part of my journey and thanked Aretha for inspiring me along the way. I did not intend to do a tribute to her! That would be impossible in 2 minutes with all the noise and tinsel of an award show. I could never do her justice in this context or environment. Unfortunately most people have short attention spans, and are so quick to judge. I love Aretha!”
Check out Madonna’s Instagram post for yourself, below:
That being said, Franklin fans on Twitter still aren’t letting Madonna off the hook. The responses criticizing her speech are still coming in—and they’re pointed:
MTV hasn’t responded to the backlash yet, but stay tuned.