Madonna’s Social Media Manager Is Out Of His Or Her Damn Mind With This #RebelHeart Hashtag

You know how the heart emoji was the most popular word of 2014? After viewing Madonna’s Twitter timeline, I’m convinced that she single-handedly made it so.

In an effort to promote her forthcoming album, Rebel Heart, Madonna has apparently hired a 15-year-old to handle her social media accounts, and that 15-year-old is splattering her timeline with heart and smiley-face emoji (but especially heart emoji). In addition, her publicity team has hashtagged her album title, which stands to reason, but they’re accompanying the hashtag with pictures of the most recognizable and well-received historical and cultural figures of the 20th century, photoshopped to look like the Rebel Heart album cover. It, um … it doesn’t come off so well.

Why not? Well, behold…

It’s audacious enough on its own to use Black civil rights leaders — one of whom was killed for his cause — and Jesus Christ himself to promote your album. But it gets worse when you equate them with people like, I don’t know, a yellow cartoon idiot:

Or a fictional troll who hates everyone:

Or Skrillex:

Add to that the random appropriation of The Only Artists Everyone Knows:

And then pepper it with celebrities both deceased…

And alive…

And for good measure, just throw Madonna’s mom in there in the worst Microsoft Paint job ever unironically posted to Twitter:

And, frankly, the whole idea of “Rebel Heart” just kind of loses its meaning. What the hell does Homer Simpson have to do with Nelson Mandela?

I mean, for the skeptical out there, this is obviously just a marketing campaign appealing to our year-end nostalgia; late December and early January are the times that we stop to dust off our memories and try and make them into something pretty. It’s the time of year when those historical radio montages featuring the best-known and most “inspiring” sound bytes of the last 100+ years — John F. Kennedy saying “Ask not what your country can do for you,” or Ronald Reagan saying “Tear down this wall,” or Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech — play non-stop for a week leading up to the most drunken celebration of the year. It’s the time of year when a video like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ “Life Is Hard” would play well. It’s the time of year when we look back on history like it’s a motivational poster for the future.

So we might, just as an example, overlook the fact that Dalí notably refused to take any public stance on either the Spanish Civil War or World War II and, once the Nationalist regime had control of Spain, aligned himself with the dictator Francisco Franco. Yes, fleeing from conflict shows a lot of heart, and being close with fascist sympathizers is very rebellious. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dalí’s artwork, I just also care about context.

It’s not that there’s anything unusual about this particular marketing scheme of Madonna’s, and it’s not that I think that this has some really incredible and vast consequence in the world. It’s just offensive on its face to both blithely paint over atrocities and appropriate the image of people who dedicated their lives to and sacrificed their lives for justice and freedom in order to sell albums while also name-dropping more current artists in an attempt to stay relevant. Madonna wants you to associate the spirit of her career with the spirit of Mandela, or the spirit of Jesus, or the spirit of King, or the spirit of Kahlo — oh, and also, she’s friends with Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus, isn’t that great? Heart emoji!!!

I’m not going to be like “Oh my god Madonna just STOP.” She doesn’t have to stop. What I am going to be like is, “Please, please, can we as consumers think about the history of the last hundred years with more nuance than to buy into this ridiculous hashtag and believe that it’s OK? Can we stop just lumping famous people together and calling it a day without thinking about what lumping them together implies?”

Also, I’ll take bets on her next three images. My bets are Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Princess Diana. We’ll see.

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