Madonna’s Vanity Fair Photoshoot Exploits the Shock Effect of Blasphemy by Mocking Christ and the Last Supper

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    Pop singer Madonna, while in Rome, unveiled a controversial photo collage in Vanity Fair Italia, posing in various roles such as Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary and featuring dolls that appear to represent dead infants.

    Returning to the sensationalist shock art that brought her to fame back in the 1980s, the 64-year-old icon is portrayed in the role of Mother of Sorrows for the cover shot, depicting her heart broken by seven swords—symbols that traditionally represent the seven sorrows associated with Mary.

    Even more disturbing for some Christians, Madonna also poses as Jesus Christ during the Last Supper with a group of half-naked women, holding up bread as an apparent reference to the Catholic Mass.

    In the interview that follows, Madonna plays the role of the victim of the brutal attacks of the Catholic Church, in which she was raised.

    When she was in Rome, “I was fiercely criticized by the Catholic Church,” she claimed, adding that as she promoted In Bed with Madonna, she was shocked to discover her own demonization by the Church, “because it [was] incapable of understanding how much my work was trying to produce something good.

    “I quickly realized that they were the problem, not me,” she asserted. “They were the problem because they did not understand that my work as an artist united people, gave them freedom of expression, unity. It was the mirror of Jesus’ teachings.”

    Photographers Luigi & Iango directed Madonna's two-day photo shoot, which reportedly involved a crew of more than 80.

    “In this very special issue, Madonna becomes Madonna again: an icon. Not just the embodiment of a musical trend or a style of dress, but a figure as disturbing as she is sacred,” said Olivier Bouchara, head of editorial content for Vanity Fair France.

    Madonna has built a reputation for mocking her Catholic faith in different ways, from depictions of Jesus' crucifixion to songs such as “Like a Virgin,” “Like a Prayer,” and “Live to Tell.” Her recent photoshoot will appear to some as a boring, unimaginative repeat of old tropes.

    At the beginning of her professional career, she chose blasphemy as her favorite stock-and-trade option. When other gimmicks are unsuccessful, she returns to this starting point.

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