How much controversy can you cram into five minutes? If you’re Madonna, enough to make your new single a hit. On Nov. 6, 1990 – 25 years ago this week – Madonna released the first single from The Immaculate Collection, “Justify My Love.” In the month that followed, Madonna filmed a video for the song, submitted it to MTV (which promptly rejected it), and then rode the resulting controversy all the way to the bank. The video was ultimately sold as a “video single,” and it sold well.
Today, the incident is remembered as one of the biggest controversies in Madonna’s career, which is saying a lot. In case you didn’t shell out for the VHS tape back in the day, watch the video below. (And yes, it and other videos in this post may be NSFW. Obviously.)
In celebration of the song’s 25th anniversary, we’ve compiled a list of factoids you may not know about the tune, the video, and the associated fallout.
1. The video is actually pretty tame by today’s standards
Given all the controversy about Madonna using the video to promote sex, sadomasochism, cross-dressomg and whatever else critics perceived in it, it just doesn’t seem quite so racy 25 years later. It’s all about sex, sure, and it’s very sexy, but the most scandalous thing in it is a woman who’s topless except for a pair of suspenders that (mostly) cover her nipples. Of course, the female nipple is still a controversial body part today, but give the video a spin now and decide for yourself if you should be offended – and if changing sexual mores are a good thing or a bad thing.
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