Folks all over the world watching the MTV Video Music Awards have been left baffled by Madonna‘s tribute to Aretha Franklin, which only seemed to highlight the 60-year-old singer’s questionable understanding of what a tribute actually is.
Taking the stage to share what many assumed would be a heartfelt speech honouring the late Franklin, it really just turned out to be a rambling anecdotal mess about Madonna and her early career. She even offered auxiliary details about “getting robbed, held at gunpoint, and being mistaken for a prostitute in my third-floor walk-up that was a crack house,” which probably didn’t need to be included in a tribute about someone else.
While it went in some strange directions, she did manage to reign it in from time to time, but did tell a story about singing one of Aretha’s songs for two French blokes at an audition, which, again, was less about the song, and more about Madonna.
“Some skinny-ass white girl is going to come up here and belt out a song from one of the greatest soul singers who ever lived?” she asked the crowd rhetorically, going on to say she absolutely did it because “bitch, I’m Madonna”.
You can check out one of the better parts of the tribute in the tweet below.
#VMAs: The Queen of Pop @Madonna pays tribute to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin: “I want to thank you, Aretha for empowering all of us. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Long live the queen.” pic.twitter.com/ugdxbr48Gz
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) August 21, 2018
A ton of people flocked to Twitter to express their straight-up bewilderment and anger towards the tribute.
You do not disrespect an ICON like that. This is a jovial kiki about Madonna’s broken ass journey. You honor a legend by telling their story or SHUT UP. The AUDACITY.
— Nina Parker (@theninaparker) August 21, 2018
I hope the vmas plan to issue a public apology for allowing Madonna to disrespect Aretha Franklin’s legacy like that #VMAs
— Kia Kia (@kiiajai) August 21, 2018
MTV: We’d like you to give a tribute to Aretha Franklin
Madonna: Great, so this is how I got my career started…
MTV: No, no, a tribute to Aretha
Madonna: So I said “bitch, I’m Madonna”
MTV: This isn’t about you madge
Madonna: Look at my African jewelry #VMAs
— laura greene (@lgreene91) August 21, 2018
Aretha’s music inspired me to sing my way out of a crackhouse where I got mistaken for a prostitution-whore
I know all you blacks can unders-#VMAs pic.twitter.com/0zoSBf85Uf
— ToraShae (@BlackMajiik) August 21, 2018
Travis Scott gave a better Aretha Franklin Tribute than Madonna and All he said was RIP Aretha Franklin. #VMAs
— 𝘽𝙊𝙊𝙂𝙀𝙔𝙈𝘼𝙉 🎤🌙 (@_TREYLAWRENCE) August 21, 2018
An Aretha tribute about Madonna #VMAs pic.twitter.com/pfdUSdHeRG
— K (@GigitheStalli0n) August 21, 2018
Whoever at the #VMAs let Madonna get on stage and give a tribute to @ArethaFranklin or whatever that was really should be out of a job right about…now.
— Alicia Garza (@aliciagarza) August 21, 2018
Aretha Franklin’s Tribute at the #VMAs:
1. Madonna talks about herself, at length, with Aretha as a footnote.
2. “Respect” is played at the very end.
3. A photo of Aretha with “1942-2018.”
Bro, what? Disrespectful.
— Nia Langley✨ (@theNiaLangley) August 21, 2018
Welp, they probably won’t be asking Madonna back for any tributes anytime soon. Unless it’s a tribute about herself, of course.