Would you turn your back for Madonna?

There’s a lot of silly and sometimes painful compromise involved in getting, keeping, and finally resenting, your job.
By Flannery Dean
124755231 Jason Merritt, Getty Images

Oh, the things we do to stay gainfully employed. 

We come in early on Monday morning and we stay late on Friday afternoon. We sing Happy Birthday to coworkers we neither like nor wish a happy birthday. We come into work and stare at a computer screen on bright sunny days when we really ought to be enjoying the last hours of summer, not to mention youth, in the blessed arms of Mother Nature. 

There’s a lot of silly and sometimes painful compromise involved in getting, keeping, and finally resenting, your job. 

I once had a boss who continually used the phrase “I want you quarterbacking on this…” 

But this recent story (via the Globe and Mail) about what Madonna asked of volunteers at the Toronto International Film Festival takes the cake in the goofiest/most demeaning request department. 

According to the Globe and Mail’s Kate Taylor, during Madonna’s recent TIFF press conference for her new film W.E. the pop star asked that the film festival’s volunteers turn their backs to the wall when she passed through the backstage area. 

Why exactly? It’s been suggested that the Material Girl didn’t want to be looked at, which seems to be a very odd quirk for a celebrity. (For those who don’t like to be looked at, may I suggest anonymity?)  

You might think that kind of request would be met by laughter and derision. But it wasn’t. The volunteers complied with the request and when Madonna walked through everyone turned around and kissed the wall. 

Taylor rightfully takes a swipe at Madonna’s nerve, if not outright delusion. And she offers Madonna this advice: “Hire staff who insist you be treated like a human being, not a deity incarnate, and treat them with such respect they would refuse any ridiculous suggestion that you could not be looked at on your way to a public event specifically designed to market your latest work.”  

While I’m in full agreement with Taylor about Madonna, I have to wonder why she’s being so light on the volunteers, who are fully capable of determining that such a request is beyond the pale. More importantly—they are volunteers! They don’t even have the fear of not getting paid to explain their compliance. 

Wasn’t there one person who thought ‘Not a chance, Madonna’? More importantly, wouldn’t it be great if the organizers of the festival prohibited such requests?     


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