In a new music video for “God Control” off Madame X, Madonna attacks the issue of gun violence in America head on. The video starts with back and forth cutting between the graphic aftermath of a nightclub shooting (primarily the bloody hands and stunned faces of victims) and a woman struggling to write at a typewriter. The video progresses in reverse chronological order, with the nightclub shooting timeline eventually being interrupted by a children’s chorus singing in a cathedral as the camera flies over a line of coffins in the pew aisle. The nightclub shooting timeline resumes with an image of the shooter placing the barrel of his gun in his mouth, but cutting away before he commits suicide. Again, proceeding in reverse chronological order, we then see the shooting itself. Madonna and her girlfriends are trying to find safety as the shooter wreaks havoc on the club. The latter half of the video uses another intercut, this time between Madonna getting ready and meeting her friends at the club, excited for a great night, and other news footage of shootings and gun violence protests. This powerful juxtaposition shows just how wrong a night of fun in America can go as a result of gun violence.
Despite the song’s dark content, it uses glitzy dance and pop production. Madonna sings lyrics like, “When they talk reforms, it makes me laugh / They pretend to help, it makes me laugh”, to demonstrate her frustration with the government’s handling of gun violence. She also repeats the phrase “Wake up” at varying pitches throughout the song as an attempt to wake up the American public to the epidemic of gun violence, rather than just remaining inactive.
This is not Madonna’s first attempt to increase public awareness of gun-related issues. In another recent single, “I Rise“, she sampled Parkland shooting survivor Emma González.