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Madonna Faces Backlash for Photoshoot Recreating Marilyn Monroe’s Death

The photos feature Madonna posing next to an array of prescription pill bottles

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Marilyn Monroe / Madonna
Marilyn Monroe / Madonna, photo via Getty

    As if her music video for “Material Girl” wasn’t enough of a hint, Madonna pulls a lot of creative inspiration from Marilyn Monroe. But now, nearly four decades after that video was released, the pop diva has stirred up some controversy surrounding a recent photo shoot that alludes to the blonde bombshell’s untimely death.

    The photos of Madonna were recently shot for V Magazine, and her ringlet curls and fur outfit are an obvious tribute to Monroe. However, there’s a darker understory behind the images: As NME points out, they riff off the last photoshoot Monroe ever did. That shoot was called The Last Sitting, and it featured scantily-clad Monroe lounging on an unmade bed, as Madonna does in the new photos for V. What’s more, Madonna’s photos include an array of prescription pill bottles, almost indisputably a direct reference to Monroe’s death by barbiturate overdose in her home.

    “For some morbid and eerie reason, Madonna decides to re-create Marilyn Monroe’s death bed,” wrote one person on Twitter with a few photos from the singer’s shoot. “The black and white photo is actually Marilyn Monroe’s bedroom where she died.”

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    Despite the backlash, photographer Steven Klein maintains that the shoot was all meant in good faith: “We were not interested in recreating the images exactly but more importantly, we wanted to explore the relationship between photographer and subject. Both the friendship and the artistic process, and how art can imitate life and vice versa,” he said in a press release.

    Klein added: “When I sent Madonna the photos, she was really taken by the incandescent fragility of Marilyn at that moment in her life. We decided to find a hotel suite and try to capture the liaison between a star and the camera, the mystery, and magic of this creative collaboration.” See the photos of Madonna for yourself below.

    Despite having spent decades in the limelight, Madonna is still outspoken. She recently voiced her support of both Britney Spears and Billie Eilish, although her stance on Lil Nas X’s same-sex kiss at the BET Awards raised some eyebrows.

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