Why Madonna’s Swastika Swipe May Actually Help Marine Le Pen

Madonna's concert video featuring Marine Le Pen's face with a swastika on it has generated a lawsuit from the extreme-right National Front party — and unease that the pop star went too far

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Madonna; Marine Le Pen

It’s the Material Girl vs. the “bad girl” of French politics.

On July 15, officials for extreme-right leader Marine Le Pen’s National Front (FN) announced the party has decided to sue Madonna for using an image of Le Pen with a swastika on her forehead during a July 14 Paris concert. The move came after the pop diva’s Paris show beamed a video featuring morphing facial images, including one of Le Pen with a swastika superimposed on it. That then melted into a shot of a Hitler look-alike. The segment also contained imagery of other world leaders the singer presumably has problems with, such as Pope Benedict, Sarah Palin, Hu Jintao and Hosni Mubarak. Le Pen first caught wind of the morphing video after it was used during a May performance in Israel. “If she tries that in France, we’ll see what happens,” Le Pen said, threatening litigation — then speculating about Madonna’s motives for using her unflatteringly enhanced photo. “It’s understandable … aging singers who need publicity go to such extremes.” (Le Pen, 43, is 10 years younger than Madonna.)

But if the singer gets mostly applause from international audiences who identify Le Pen as Europe’s best-known face of xenophobic right-wing politics, she may find herself with fewer allies in France as a result of associating Le Pen with Nazism. The reason? Though Le Pen presides over a reactionary and Islamophobic party, she’s also clearly not a fascist, not a Nazi and not Hitler. In fact, she’s not even her father Jean-Marie Le Pen — who made revisionist comments and anti-Semitic statements part of his notorious public discourse. Comparisons of Le Pen and her party to her father’s rule over the FN not only leave many people in France feeling Madonna’s jab misunderstands Le Pen’s relatively moderate positioning but even victimizes her with an unfair association with the Nazi symbol.

(LIST: Nazis and Nudity: The Top 10 Madonna Controversies)

Indeed, since becoming FN leader in January 2011, the younger Le Pen has angered many party veterans and traditionalists by expelling groups and individuals associated with extremism and neo-Nazi sympathies. According to those detractors, Le Pen is selling out many of the ultra-right tenets and currents that her father built the party with in her quest to make it more respectable.

And that’s what makes her a viable danger to the French political mainstream. With her brand of “reactionary lite,” Le Pen now threatens to reach millions of voters who previously shunned her father’s FN as neofascist. By attacking Marine Le Pen with a powerful but inappropriate symbol, Madonna may have offended more than just the 6.4 million people who cast ballots for Le Pen during France’s first round of presidential polling. “We can’t accept this despicable association,” declared FN vice president Florian Philippot in announcing the decision to file suit. “Marine Le Pen [will] defend her own honor, but also those of [party] members, supporters and millions of National Front voters.”

While no one outside of the FN — pundits, politicians or legal experts — has stepped up to defend France’s iconic reactionary against the pop queen’s swipe, an uneasy ambivalence emerged when Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, spokeswoman of France’s leftist government, said it was “unfortunate” that Le Pen was associated with the Nazi symbol.

What happens now? Should the court case against Madonna be heard and ruled in Le Pen’s favor quickly, the singer could be fined and forced to edit out the offending images from her other French concert in Nice on Aug. 21. More likely, experts say, the suit will take longer to come to trial, and the court is likely to accept Madonna’s anticipated arguments that the video is an artistic expression covered by freedom-of-speech statutes.

Yet even if she loses that case, Le Pen looks likely to come out ahead in terms of French public sympathy. If Madonna’s objective was to discredit Le Pen with the virtual swastika tattoo, the actual result for the FN leader may be a publicity windfall.

MORE: French Presidential Election: Marine Le Pen Haunts the Sarkozy-Hollande Debate

87 comments
HerrDirlewanger
HerrDirlewanger

Madonnas a bad joke, a few years ago she turned into a jew, now she wants to be a muslim.

John Smith
John Smith

France is famous for hair-splitting politics. Basically the primary reason the French are offend by a Nazi label  is because the actual Nazi's invaded France, kicked their butts, and declared the French were NOT part of the master race.    

Other than not being picked as part of the white race team for WWII, the political beliefs are 90% the same as the Nazi party...differing mainly in broadening the master race away from blonde hair and blue eyes to simply European white. Oh and the new party believes they need to bide their time before becoming too harsh in their public denouncements of other races -- sort of a wisdom that Hitler acted too impulsively soon and that they aren't even that powerful yet with France.

mreggman11
mreggman11

well I guess we know what Le Pen thinks of liberty and free speech.  The jab about age is petty.  Le Pen is just the softest and best representative of a party of awful xenophobic hateful people.

Madonna is just calling a spade a spade, she is drawing attention to a movement in europe that sees muslims the same way that the jews were seen before WW2.

This article doesn't get it at all, it's to bring attention to what is going on in Europe right now.  As economic times get crappy, wicked people like FN and their neo-nazi ilk look for scapegoats and it will be gypsies (again) and muslims instead of jews.  She is trying to get us to NEVER FORGET. 

mreggman11
mreggman11

this article is basically saying "Madonna may have pissed of some racist french FN supporters" and to that I say THAT WAS THE POINT!  Now more people know about Le Pen and her awful political party, and maybe will put two and two together that there is a movement in europe that is treating muslims like jews were in midcentury germany.  The fact that Le Pen is filing a lawsuit instead of just not fueling the fire and letting it pass goes to show you how much of a fan of liberty she is...

ΞRightWingAnarchistΞ
ΞRightWingAnarchistΞ

Madonna not only managed to destroy pop music by bringing it to a level of mediocrity never reached before but she's such a moron she thinks she knows what she's talking about when insulting Marine Le Pen comparing her to bloody nazis... Let us hope - if there is some justice - she will lose against Marine.

Stefan
Stefan

Shame on you Madonna for your insults towards the great woman who is Marine Le Pen!

Nadia Merriweather
Nadia Merriweather

@ Bruce Crumley.  Here's a video of Marine Le Pen's father.  She worked closely with her father and for years supported him.  In this video, he says that white people are the superior race.  I hope that you understand French or that someone can translate this for you.  At Time magazine , you really need to do your homework.  As Madonna, she, as an artists has the right to express her opinion thru her art.  Artists have earned it.  Remember, in the 50's how artists were black listed.  Remember how many artists were persecuted by the nazis? Remember, how many poets were executed by the government of Franco?  Do you want to go back to the dark ages?  Yes, artists have that right! 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Stefan
Stefan

Thank you Time for the following sentence: "

she’s also clearly not a fascist, not a Nazi and not Hitler"

Stefan
Stefan

By the way, for those who can understand French, please listen to what Marine is saying about nazism here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

"Nazism was an abomination and the summum of barbarism"

Marine Le Pen

Stefan
Stefan

Thank you Time for this sentence: " She’s also clearly not a fascist, not a Nazi and not Hitler." Finally, people are trying to go beyond the hearsay, insults, prejudice, and try to listen to what Marine Le Pen says, to her ideas which are against ultraliberalism and globalism, to maintain the cultures, democracies, and the free nations of this World.

She is a patriot and a nationalist. Patriot: the ones who love their motherland (country and history) Nationalist: the ones who love their nation (family)

She loves all the democratic and sovereign nations of that world.

She is against the European Union, these corrupt bureaucrats completely disconnected with our reality and who mostly listen to lobbyists, and the completely crazy and out of control system that is called euro. She wants France to recover our sovereignty as a people to control our borders what and who comes in and out of our country, which is no longer the case for France. She wants to get our own currency once again, and to be able to decide on our own State budget.

She is for democracy (the power of the people) and propose proportional representation for the parliament, which is not the case now in France.

She is conservative for the values but social-liberal in the economy - we don't want unfair competition with countries who use child labor.

She is against communism, socialism, nazi, fascism, and of course islamism.

She is for the fact that France and its State respect its Christian roots. And obviously for the equality between woman and man.

BillKilpatrick
BillKilpatrick

Le Pen is the David Duke of France.  Madonna is performing a public service.

Bis Repetita
Bis Repetita

Please Madonna, if you can't have a brain, try at least to sing in tone.

Not wanting our country to be full of mosquees does not make us Nazis but is our fundamental right as Native Europeans and Native French. If you can't deal with it, then stay away from here and sell your soup somewhere else.

27
27

Another article using the word "islamophobia".  Oh well.  One day, maybe the mainstream media might actually read the commandments that islam has of it's adherents and understand that there's nothing irrational about looking at the contents of the koran and coming to the conclusion that islam itself is the problem.

I guess I'm just being irrational and all.  Something about "slaying the infidels wherever you find them".  

Because that somehow must be "taken out of context" right?

chippy1
chippy1

Another great role model for the young.

Mathew
Mathew

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Sidney Baxter
Sidney Baxter

as Fred responded I didnt even know that anyone can earn $7015 in a few weeks on the internet. did you see this website [N][u][t][t][y][R][i][c][h].[c] [O] [m]

MadDogHowser
MadDogHowser

How desperate.  Good thing my music matured past this has been 20 years ago.

midpath
midpath

From wikipedia, the swastika that was used in Germany was right facing. The swastika that is left facing (or even right facing) is a Buddhist, and Hindu symbol for eternity. The word swastika in sanskrit meant "to be good".  I used to have a sweater with left swastikas on it, and I would not be offended if somebody drew a left facing swastika on my face.

midpath
midpath

But that is not a swastika. The nazi swastika was a hooked cross with the hooks facing clockwise, the symbol on the face has the hooks facing counter clockwise. This makes it a different symbol, one of the ones used in the Hindu tradition. If anyone tries to sue Madonna over this they will likely lose because it is not a swastika.

alyssaaly
alyssaaly

I think Madonna's use of the swastika is being taken too literally. If anything it's meant to relate to the widespread and ungrounded hate Hitler provoked for a completely innocent religious group. It's merely meant to communicate that history is repeating itself, and that Le Pen is heading an unjust movement against muslims, just as Hitler did against the Jews. 

PawsDownLittleMonsters
PawsDownLittleMonsters

"Le Pen’s relatively moderate positioning"??? You lost me there.

By all the cheers Madonna got during that video from the +70,000 people in her concert in France, I would assume she found support in France.

Not to mention that Madonna's boyfriend IS French and a Muslim. It is fair to say she has had many discussions about Le Pen at home, with her Islamic-French boyfriend.

If having a French boyfriend who happens to follow Islamism  for two years is not enough, the fact that a big part of Madonna's crew in the tour (a great number of her dancers, mainly) is French and Muslim too might help you see that Madonna was well assisted in her decision to show that video. 

Wake up France! It seems Le Pen does not believe in the "liberté de la parole".

Nadia Merriweather
Nadia Merriweather

Supporters of Le Pen act like little militia.  They wonder the outskirts of Paris to look for people of colors and especially immigrants and beat them up knowing very well that it will be difficult for them to call the police.  The French police are great sympathizer of Le Pen.  You guys need to check this French movie called "La Haine" (The Hatred) and then you will understand how things work in France.   Paris outskirts  shown in this movie are called  Les Cités.   

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Acnyc11
Acnyc11

Anyone defending Le Pen and thinking or believing that Madonnas imagie of le Pen will inspire sympathy for Le Pen is well stupid just like this ridiculous article.. Madonna please continue todo what you do. We still need you

Mike Terron
Mike Terron

 You are an asshole, avoid to talk when you are not in the country

ΞRightWingAnarchistΞ
ΞRightWingAnarchistΞ

 Better read that than be blind.... Misinformation reached the USA. Great job the media !

Nadia Merriweather
Nadia Merriweather

Here we go National Front people in here.  Thank you Time magazine for this article. you are justifying racist acts in France.  Don't you know about National Front youth who goes around the streets at night to beat up people of colors?  Shame on you Time magazine!  In France, most of the police is part of the National Front.  F**K ya Time! 

BillKilpatrick
BillKilpatrick

The French opened themselves up to becoming a country "full of mosques" when it colonized chunks of the Muslim world - especially in North Africa - and justified doing so on the rationale that it was providing the benefits of "French civilization" to these undeveloped people, complete with the offering of a good "French education."  In order to maintain that position, France had to let in university students from all over its colonial possessions, people who came to Paris and other French cities to gain a "good French education."

In the decades since, France has opened its doors to many immigrants from these lands, not to educate them but to use them as cheap labor.  Message to Bis Repetita: If you import these people, you become a country "full of mosques."  You can't have it both ways.  You can't have the cheap labor without also opening your door to people with very different beliefs and traditions.  If France wanted "racial" or "religious" purity, it should have kept its hands off of North Africa and other spots where "French civilization" was imposed upon the local population.

You made your bed, now lie in it.  Or maybe you would prefer to just lie.  Either way, you're just a whiner with a modem.

ΞRightWingAnarchistΞ
ΞRightWingAnarchistΞ

 I agree... Except that in the case of Madonna, it is pure ignorance on her part and what she meant was definitely to use the nazi one in order to associate Marine Le Pen with it (proof is the use of Hitler's picture too). This is clearly an insult as the FN rejects the nazi ideology.

midpath
midpath

 also the swastika that Madonna used was left facing, and so there could be no reasonable cause of action against Madonna related to that.

Bis Repetita
Bis Repetita

Total misinformation. The days of the skinheads are long gone and they

were always a minority in France.

Yes there are milices in Paris and in the big french towns but those are not

FN or French but foreigner. If you don't believe me, ask the Jews who is the problem.

Stefan
Stefan

This is such a shame to insult Marine Le Pen like that!

John Grabowski
John Grabowski

What does she do, exactly, besides pull stunts to draw attention to herself, be it through images of porn, religious desecration, sadomasochism, lesbianism, etc? Wow, this stuff is clever! Guess no one's ever heard of Warhol, Andres Serrano, et al.

Bis Repetita
Bis Repetita

Too late. Comparing Le Pen with Nazis is so old that only morons still believe in that (by the way, Jean-Marie Le Pen integrated the Resistance at 16 years old. Not so many on the French left can say that !).

What does that old fart American billionnaire know about our history and life ? Nothing. Who is she to judge when her country and Nobel Peace of War President are killing thousand of people each years (in arabic lands by the way), robbing, stealing, destroying all kind of countries and cultures around the globe ?

Madonna, you're not welcome here anymore.

ΞRightWingAnarchistΞ
ΞRightWingAnarchistΞ

The FN has never been a racist movement, it might bother you but it's the truth.

27
27

Good for you.

Here in the West, it's pretty obvious that the intention is to relate to Nazism.

So you go on wearing that left-facing swastika.  See how well it goes.

ΞRightWingAnarchistΞ
ΞRightWingAnarchistΞ

 Exactly. Skinheads were never welcomed in the FN and were the first victims of misinformation from media propaganda. Luckily, they are no more today.

Nadia Merriweather
Nadia Merriweather

YOU ARE A FRONT NATIONAL MEMBER AND YOU ARE DISTORDING THE TRUTH BECAUSE YOU ARE JUSTIFYING THE CRIMINAL ACTS AGAINST PEOPLE OF COLORS IN FRANCE.  YOU ARE NOT BELIEVABLE.  IT'S HARD TO KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE OF COLORS ARE BEING ATTACKED IN FRANCE BECAUSE MOST OF THE POLICE ARE MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL FRONT.  

BillKilpatrick
BillKilpatrick

Ask "the Jews"?  Now, I get it.  You need say nothing more.

daltonII
daltonII

 "If you don't believe me, ask the Jews who is the problem."

How about asking to enroll in an English language course?

DUH.

Acnyc11
Acnyc11

Your precious neo nazi white supremacist Le Pen has earned her swastika. You can't convince me either wise the proof is in the pudding. Denial on the other hand is so old that only morons....

BillKilpatrick
BillKilpatrick

Up yours, lady.  We wouldn't be in "arabic" lands (whatever that's supposed to mean) if fanatical idiots hadn't murdered 3,000 people on our shores on 9/11.  If, by "arabic lands," you mean Afghanistan, where the Taliban behead those with whom they disagree, and stone women for adultery, I could only wish someone would drop you into the heart of your beloved "arabic lands."

The United States has no quarrel with most of the billion Muslims around the world, people who just want to feed their kids and make their way through this world.  We're not thrilled about nazi-esque leaders like Ahmadinejad, who has said he wants to wipe Israel off the map (while he denies the Holocaust) but there are more Muslims in the U.S. than in many "Muslim" nations.

Barack Obama was against the invasion of Iraq, as a "war of choice" rather than as a "war of necessity."  He called for a pull-out and got it.  He has also called for a pull-out of Afghanistan, but that process had been delayed by the hunt for bin Laden and is now delayed by the precarious position of the country, with the Taliban still committing murders in the name of God.

If you think France is in any moral position to denounce other countries - for colonialism or for a raw bodycount - you need to go back to school and get a proper education.

Nadia Merriweather
Nadia Merriweather

Yep, get your reality check!  I wonder how many people of colors and gays are part of the NF! Ahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!! You are living in fantasy land.

Right Wing Anarchist= extreme right.  We are not stupid. 

ΞRightWingAnarchistΞ
ΞRightWingAnarchistΞ

Anyway Bis Repetita is definitely NOT a Front National Member... And sorry to bring you the news but most of the police aren't neither !

ΞRightWingAnarchistΞ
ΞRightWingAnarchistΞ

 Nonsense. FN is probably the only party in France who doesn't make differences based on the colour of the skin. Misinformation, once more....

BillKilpatrick
BillKilpatrick

RightWingAnarchist, "Ask the Jews who is the problem" is not "even our fellow friends of Jewish confession will tell you that."  You can't rewrite the words for someone else in order to civilize their meaning. And calling me a victim of propaganda doesn't make me one.  It does, however, suggest that propaganda may be at the heart of your defense of fascist idiots.

ΞRightWingAnarchistΞ
ΞRightWingAnarchistΞ

 If you're not even able to understand the fact that Bis Repetita meant "even our fellow friends of Jewish confession will tell you that" it means you're already a victim of propaganda... Too late for you to understand the truth.

BillKilpatrick
BillKilpatrick

Bis Repetita, Respondez en Francaise et nous rirons d'autant plus.

Bis Repetita
Bis Repetita

 I'm not English and my English is what it is. Let's see what you can do in French

Nadia Merriweather
Nadia Merriweather

I bet that Bis Repetita is a National Front member. He's so convinced that he is right. No point to engage with him. It's like an alcoholic in denial.

BillKilpatrick
BillKilpatrick

In reply to Bis Repetita below, you are the one who used the loosely applied label of "arabic lands."  As you expressed such dismay at America's involvement - which has taken place in Afghanistan and Iraq - I responded to fascism with facts.  Sorry to burst your bubble.

If you want to define North Africa (Tunisia, Libya and Egypt) as "arabic lands," you have to live with your own logic.  Either stick to the Arabian peninsula, as the only true "arabic land," or follow your own logic in calling any predominately-Muslim region an "arabic land."  You can't have it both ways.

As for my country's "disastrous actions overseas," I hardly need a lecture, from the French, on colonialism in Tunisia or Libya.  I noticed you skipped over Algeria.  I wonder why anybody speaking from the French point of view would leave out Algeria.  Oh yeah, it's because Algeria was YOUR Vietnam.  I find it "really frightening" to see how much ignorance you possess of the French foray into colonialism.  How sad for you.

In the meantime, let's stop and take score.  America's involvement in Egypt has been to establish friendly support with the Mubarak regime, because of Egypt's critical control of the Suez Canal.  But Mubarak was a thug whose own people rose up against him.  Learning a lesson from history, America sided with democracy.

Do you have a problem with democracy?  The Egyptian people, themselves, chose their own path.  To blame it on America is ignorance squared.  As for the politics of the Muslim Brotherhood, it takes an awfully stupid and ignorant person to think that all Muslims think and vote the same way.

Then there's Libya, until recently the fiefdom of Colonel Moammar Ghadafi, an idiot who turned Libya into the playground for militant groups who needed practice ranges and safe havens.  Ghadafi was complicit in the harboring of terrorist activity going all the way back to the 80s.  When his own people rose up against him, he sought to have them bombed by the airforce.  Ghadafi was a thug.  American involvement in Libya was to give NATO-coordinated air support, so that the rebels could stand up against a dictator.

If you think we did wrong by Gadhafi, you must be high - or a fascist.  Either way, your opinion is ridiculous.

Which brings us to Syria, where the government has gone house to house, killing civilians.  Syria's record of human-rights abuses is legendary in scope.  Few countries do torture quite like the Syrians.  They have elevated it to an art form.  To defend the Syrian regime is really a low, low thing.

American involvement, to date, has consisted of calling for the departure of Bashar.  If it is evil to oppose evil, what kind of evil are you aligned with?  Or are you just so incredibly ignorant as to come onto a public forum and to defend dictators and murderers because it suits your anti-American bias?

Bis Repetita
Bis Repetita

 First, Afghanistan is not an arabic land. Secondly, the USA are the ones who armed the Talibans back in the Cold War...

By arabic lands I mean Irak, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria and all these

countries you attack and stole or where you put islamists in power like

the Muslim Brothers to please your wahhabist "oil" buddies of Qatar and

Saoudi Arabia.

Its is really frightening to see how much Americans are ignorant of

their country disastrous actions overseas. If you thought that things

are better under Obama, then you are deadly wrong.