Justify My Love: 25 Years Later

Sadomasochism. Voyeurism. Homosexuality. Bisexuality. Sounds like your average episode of American Horror Story or even How to Get Away with Murder. But 25 years ago it was just too much for one of the most progressive networks at the time – MTV. Twenty-five years ago this week, Madonna released her video for her single Justify My Love and it was instantly banned by MTV. What was designed as an overtly stylized erotic dream turned into a nightmare for MTV networks. The MTV execs felt that the video had more in common with triple-X movies than with the mainstream pop videos they were pushing. Apparently for the 1990s, the Material Girl had simply gone over the borderline. But one wonders, if the video had been released today wouldn’t it have gone viral on YouTube within minutes?

From the MTV ashes rose Madonna; the controversy turned out to be a publicity and financial coup for the music maven. ”Throwing a scandal Madonna’s way is like throwing gasoline on a fire,” stated author Mark Bego at the time. Justify My Love went on to spend two consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard charts and when the video (on VHS at the time) was released to the public it became the number one selling music video of all time.

Would Justify My Love still be greeted with such controversy these days? You be the judge.

Tags: Madonna

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