Top PR’s View’s on Madonna
The London Paper: Wednesday 18th October 2006 by Mark Borkowski
It appears she has broken every rule in the PR book, every rule in the bible of of dos and don’ts built up over decades of celebrity disasters.
What began as, I’m sure, a benevolent and heart felt gesture on the part of Madonna, to adopt a motherless child from Malawi, has now grown into a worldwide debate. The internet is alive with speculation that it’s a publicity stunt and sparking criticism not only from the media, but from pressure groups like the Human Rights Consultative Committee. Whatever Madonna’s original motives were for adopting 13 month old David Banda, from the mission run Home of Hope orphanage in Malawi, and are now irrelevant. The backlash has suffocated the original motivation
The boy’s father consented to the adoption, which was allowed despite the fact that there is a ban in Malawi on adoptions by non-residents – unless of course you are the world’s highest earning female artist and probably one of the most famous, who is suffering a little from the “celebrity hubris creep”.
All celebrities succumb to this in small or large doses at some stage of their career in the public spotlight. Just look at the likes of Tom Cruise, amazing and horrifying America in equal measures over his declarations of love for Katie Holmes, or George Galloway who died a thousand deaths at the hands of Channel 4 on Celebrity Big Brother earlier this year.
Sooner or later, a huge level of fame often affords celebrities an exaggerated sense of self pride and confidence. Celebrities can see themselves as living outside public opinion. Madonna has been working towards David’s adoption for months. But in just a matter of days, all the good seems to have been undone. Her status has rendered any sense of due diligence obsolete and Madonna has perhaps no idea of the debris she will leave behind. Not for her the bleating charities who say normal rules should have been applied. Not for her the fans who think she has crassly plucked as African boy out of an orphanage like a toy in a toyshop. Her arrogance has driven her thus far, and will keep her going in the years to come.
A year after Madonna appeared with her Ethiopian woman at Live 8, it seems that she’s tried to take things further and make things matter. In her mind and in teh mind of David Banda’s father she is doing good – giving him a chance of a life of good health and fortune while at the same time focusing attention on the plight of AIDS ravaged Africa. But for Madonna , the damage from her “baby Snatch” will linger for long time to come.
I am convinced that she expected to control the media bandwagon and and to reveal the adoption at her own speed . The secrecy that ensued has effectively created sinister overtones where an openness to her actions woudl clearly have underlined her benevolence.
All to often we see public figures not being able to recognise the error of their well meaning intentions because of this Celebrity Hubris Creep . This hubris blinds the victim to the negative side of a public gesture. This is how many figures in public life fall from grace, unable to see how their behaviour will eventually cause their demise. Madonna lives, breathes and eats her own image and she must now realise this PR problem is not the same league as previous controversies that have threatened to engulf her.
But in the end, it doesn’t matter. Unlikely as it might seem at the moment, whehn the mayhem has died down her intentions to aid the plight of African orphans will have had an unconscious effect.