A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Madonna's Deliberate Wardrobe Malfunction in Istanbul

I believe the last time (probably the only time) this  blog had occasion to discuss Madonna was when some of her Israeli fans asked Netanyahu not to attack Iran until after her concert in Israel. That concert was at the end of May, so something else must be deterring Netanyahu now.

But she's making Middle Eastern news again. (For you younger readers, Madonna was sort of the Lady Gaga of the '80's. That statement will make fans of both furious, I'm sure.) First she performed in Abu Dhabi, where before her appearance there were complaints from religious elements wanting to see the concert canceled. It wasn't. I mean, what was she going to do that was so controversial, strip on stage?

Well, not in Abu Dhabi, anyway. But in Istanbul. Over the weekend, in a concert in Istanbul, she stripped down to her bra and then pulled down the bra to reveal her right breast. Rolling Stone here. Though the crowd seems to have cheered, many news reports speak of "outrage" in Turkey. Certainly flashing the audience in a Muslim country is daring and, perhaps, crosses some red lines.

Oddly a lot of the comment from the entertainment media, British tabloids, and other such elevated sources, when not trying to find amusing headlines making breast jokes, are criticizing her for exposing herself at age 53, rather than questioning the wisdom of doing it in a Muslim country where religious/secular tensions run deep. I certainly am not going to say anything negative about the age issue. My wife is in her 50s and as alluring as the day we met, though she has never flashed a concert audience and, I trust, never will. But I do think that what might be typical superstar excess in the US or Europe is likelier to be seen as an insult and an affront in a country like Turkey, where these sorts of culture wars issues run rather deep at the moment.

And I'm not going to post the video, though the desperately curious may find it here.

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