According to Madonna, Her Aretha Franklin VMAs Tribute Wasn’t a Tribute at All

Oh, Madonna, what have you done?

While we’d argue that the queen of pop belongs at the Video Music Awards — remember that wedding-themed “Like a Virgin” performance at the inaugural show in 1984? — her most recent appearance at Monday night’s 2018 VMAs was memorable for the wrong reasons.

Madge took the stage to present Camilla Cabello with the Video of the Year Award (the evening’s top prize). However, things got hairy after her speech, which followed a (very) brief video compilation honoring the late Aretha Franklin, who died last week. In sum, she made the entire speech about herself, explaining how Franklin’s music helped her rise to the top of the charts. Not surprisingly, she was dragged on Twitter (especially by women of color) for not paying proper R-E-S-P-E-C-T to the Queen of Soul. She was also accused of cultural appropriation for her outfit.

Now, Madonna is back to defend herself.

Sharing a photo of herself with Cabello on Tuesday, she wrote that, as it was explained to her, the Franklin tribute wasn’t a tribute at all. “[J]ust to clarify: I was asked to present video of the year by MTV! And then they asked me to share any anecdotes I had in my career connected to Aretha Franklin!” she said.

“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,” she continued. “Unfortunately most people have short attention spans, and are so quick to judge.”

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Oh, and she doubled down on her ensemble choice. “I LOVE my dress!” she said. “AND. I love-L O V E!! and there is nothing anyone can say or do that will change that.” 

So who are we to believe, MTV or Madonna? Regardless of whether or not the initial intention of her speech was to offer a tribute, the network could have arguably done a bit more for Franklin. She’s the Queen of Soul, after all.