Anyone that’s caught the news in the last few days will have encountered the tragic story of Malala Yousafzai.
The 14-year old Pakistani blogger, who has a high-profile as a campaigner for extended female education in the country, was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen last week. She is currently being flown to the UK for emergency medical treatment. Politicians have been quick to express solidarity with Yousufzai’s cause, with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague calling her “an example to us all”. The latest high-profile figure to register support is Madonna – and, as ever, she’s done so in strikingly brash fashion.
According to NDTV, the singer stopped the show to have a “serious talk” with the audience. She then spoke out about Yousufzai’s plight, saying “This made me cry…The 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot on a school bus for writing a blog… who wrote a blog about how important education was to her. The Taliban stopped her bus and shot her… Do you understand the sickness and absurdity of this?…Support education! Support the people who support women!”
If that reads like an unusually restrained bit of soapboxing from the star, she added the requisite note of controversy later in the performance. Having stripped to her bra, Madonna subsequently pulled down her trousers to reveal “Malala” written just above a thong. She then went on to dedicate ‘Human Nature’ to the girl.
Whether the gesture is a strident thumb-bite towards sexual oppressors or yet another crass intervention on a deeply sensitive issue will depend on your perspective, but it shows that, after those Molly and Le Pen controversies, the MDNA tour continues to the enervate as well as entertain.