Why Can’t We Let Madonna’s ‘Politically Incorrect’ Statement Slide?

It’s March 2024, and paraplegic Madonna fan, Vanessa Gorman, is preparing to see her favourite singer perform live.

Having secured accessible seating within metres of Madonna herself, Vanessa was excited to listen to hits such as ‘Material Girl’ and ‘Like a Virgin’.

But, when the singer called out Vanessa for not standing up at her concert, quickly apologising for the ‘politically incorrect’ statement after realising the fan was in a wheelchair, the public were quick to express their shock after a video of the moment was shared on social media. 

“It’s not just ‘politically incorrect’ or ‘woke’ to lambast wheelchair users. It’s pure ableism & glaring privilege.” one fan posted on X (formerly known as Twitter). 

Despite there being ‘no hard feelings’ from Vanessa towards the singer, critics have been lashing out at Madonna’s ableism. 

In 2022, the artist had collaborated with Beyonce on her album ‘Renaissance’, which faced backlash for its abelist lyrics. 

Similarly, Pop Star Lizzo was forced to remove ableist lyrics from her song ‘Grrrls’.

Is this trend of Artists using derogatory language towards disabled communities in their singles something we should be worried about?

Uneducation and ignorance can be harmful in more ways than one. Ableism fuelled by ignorance is rife in our society, and it is particularly prevalent within the music industry. 

Not only is the music industry inaccessible for disabled fans, but it is also known for its lack of accessibility for disabled artists. 

“Every venue I’ve played in has been inaccessible, unless you can climb stairs. It excludes a lot of people.”

Katja Macarbe- disabled musician

That’s why Madonna’s comment and her meagre apology is something we shouldn’t let slide. Her ignorance was more than just ‘politically incorrect’, but yet another chip in an already crumbling wall, a wall allowing disabled musicians and fans to fully access  the joys of music.

CREDIT: @madonna on Instagram

read more

Written by: Mia Rose
Mia Rose is a Final Year Journalism student at the University of Sheffield. She has experience in feature writing and broadcasting. Mia forms a part of the Website Team at 5678 Magazine.