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On Monday 2nd March, Madonna was invited to the French show Le Grand Journal. Also present was Luz, one of Charlie Hebdo’s caricaturists – the magazine that was brutally attacked on January 7th and where 12 people tragically lost their lives.
This was Madonna’s first visit to Le Grand Journal, a nightly news and talk show broadcast on Canal+, and she was there to promote her new album “Rebel Hearts”, to be released on March 6th.
For the occasion, she was the only guest of the show that night and was also named “Chief Editor”. The special edition of the talk show was fully oriented around Madonna’s career and took us down memory lane with archive pieces and reminiscing about her earlier work.
However, what really captivated the audience that night and exploded on social media was not Madonna’s career.
Antoine de Caunes, the show’s host, was talking about freedom of speech with Madonna and how she was one of the first to show support to Charlie Hebdo last January, when she posted a message on her Instagram account with the now famous “Je suis Charlie” sign. He then announced that he wanted Madonna to meet one of the emblematic figures of Charlie Hebdo: Luz.
Madonna’s surprise was clear on her face. When Luz arrived, she did the thing that had us moved beyond words: she hugged Luz for a solid 10 seconds. The gesture in itself was quite emotional but seeing Madonna, the Queen of Pop, with tears in her eyes was the most unexpected yet powerful moment I have witnessed in a long time.
Madonna is known for her strong support of the LGBTQ community, especially in Russia, and for her opposition to Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French far-right party Front National; but this display showcased her personality to the world in uncertain terms.
We saw the more human side of Madonna. We often tend to picture her as unattainable; but yesterday, we saw a person, like you and I, with her convictions and beliefs. A person that was as shaken as us after the violent attempts Paris witnessed to muzzle freedom of speech.
I, personally, felt really empowered and moved by Madonna’s behaviour last night – not that I would have expected anything less from her. But it is good to be reminded from time to time that celebrities are not living in their own little world, where human tragedies are just fleeting news in their ears.
Whatever we think about Madonna, her music, or her affiliations, we can only feel admiration for her commitment to promote and defend human rights, and her active involvement in making the world a better place.
By Lucie P. Norris
Image from http://www.europe1.fr/medias-tele/charlie-hebdo-l-emouvante-accolade-entre-madonna-et-luz-2388163
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham