Madonna may enjoy courting controversy, but this time, even she has backed down. After advance news reports about her ''American Life'' video prompted complaints that the clip was unpatriotic and insensitive at a time of war, Madonna decided at the last minute not to release the video, which was to premiere on MuchMusic on Tuesday and on VH1 on Friday. ''Due to the volatile state of the world and out of sensitivity and respect to the armed forces, who I support and pray for, I do not want to risk offending anyone who might misinterpret the meaning of this video,'' she said Monday in a statement.
The clip, shot in February by Jonas Akerlund (who also directed her ''Ray of Light'' and ''Music'' videos), shows the Material Mom among military-garbed models at a fashion show. Interspersed with shots of the catwalk is footage of explosions and planes dropping bombs. In one shot, Madonna takes a knife carves the words ''Protect Me'' on the wall of a bathroom stall. The video ends with Madonna tossing what appears to be a grenade into the lap of a George W. Bush lookalike, but the bomb is actually a lighter, and he uses it to light a cigar.
Last week, Madonna defended the clip, telling TV's ''Access Hollywood'' that the video ''is not me being anti-Bush, it's me being ironic and tongue in cheek.'' The grenade, she said, represented her ''wish for peace and my desire to sort of turn a weapon of destruction, which is a grenade, into something that is completely innocuous.''