Madonna knows controversy – you don’t become the world’s most famous pop singer without ruffling a few feathers. But this time, just about everyone from tabloid reporters to adoption groups seems to be weighing in on her decision to make David Banda, a young boy from Malawi, part of her family
TIME: Why do you think people are so upset by the fact that you adopted a Malawian child?
Madonna: People or the media? Because I don’t think people really give a shit. But when you throw in things like, I’m a celebrity and I somehow got special treatment, or make the implication of kidnapping, it gets mixed into a stew and it sells lots of papers. But care? People don’t care and the media certainly doesn’t care. What they should care about is that there are over a million orphans in Malawi, and following me around is just a gross misappropriation of attention and money. But I do think there’s a certain amount of nationalism and racism thrown in there. I mean, there’s a lot of Brits – reporters on the street – who’ve said, “Why don’t you adopt a kid from Britain?” Or, “Why did you adopt a black child?” So a lot of people’s hangups and ‘isms’ are sort of mixed into this, too. It’s just kind of a cocktail for disaster in terms of media perception.
One of the ‘isms’ that you’re frequently accused of is dilettantism. You’re new to Africa and these issues and there’s a perception that you’re jumping on a bandwagon, and bringing a child into it, too.
Well that’s not my problem. I don’t care. I could know about the situation for two weeks and want to do something about it or I could know about it for years and deliberate on a plan of action. Which is better? That I found out about an issue and instantly wanted to take action, or that it took me years to get my shit together? Look, I could have joined the U.N. and become an ambassador and visited various countries and just kind of showed up and smiled and looked concerned. But that’s not getting to the root of the problem – and by the way, neither is building orphan care centers and giving people food and medicine. But it’s a start. I’m saving people’s lives. And whether I have earned the right to do it, or the respect of people who think I may not have the right to do it, is completely and utterly irrelevant. And in any event, no, I’m not interested in going in there like a dilettante and being an idiot and going ‘Ok, I’m going to build 10 orphanages and I’ll see you guys later!’
So this is a lifetime commitment?
Absolutely. I’m starting with Malawi. It’s a small, peaceful country, so I feel like it’s a safe place to start. And if it works, I’ll expand. But it is the beginning and I know I’m going to get a lot of criticism and take a lot of shit for it, and it’s kind of like, Go ahead, haze me, have a laugh, and come back and talk to me in five years.
You’ve been through other hazing periods in your career. Is this one different than…
Yeah, because a life is at stake. And in all those other hazing periods people were just trying to fuck with me. Now they’re going into a village and terrorizing innocent people who live simple lives, terrorizing the father, terrorizing the children that I already have. There are a lot of people who are indirectly being effected by it. That’s the difference.