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Madonna delays Bush-clone video

Los Angeles, April 2 (Reuters): Acting “out of respect” for US armed forces in Iraq, pop star Madonna yesterday pulled the release of her controversial new music video, in which she tosses a hand grenade to a President George W. Bush look-alike.

The video, produced to accompany her new single, American Life, was issued outside the US on Monday and had been circulated to American TV outlets, such as Access Hollywood, ahead of its US premiere, which had been slated for Friday on the cable music channel, VH-1.

But Madonna, who in the past has outraged many with her mix of frank sexuality and religious symbolism in the video genre she helped popularise 20 years ago, said in a statement that she decided to withdraw her 4 1/2-minute video after it became “the subject of rumours and misinformation”.

“It was filmed before the war started, and I do not believe it is appropriate to air it at this time,” the singer wrote. “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.”

The accompanying song, which has just been released to radio stations, is the title track and first single from her next album due out April 22 from Warner Bros. Records, a unit of media company AOL Time Warner Inc.

The single includes the lyrics: “I’d like to express my extreme point-of-view/I’m not a Christian and I’m not a Jew/I’m just living out the American dream/And I just realised that nothing is what it seems.”

The video has sparked controversy for its graphic war-related imagery, which Madonna said has been misinterpreted by some as being critical of the US and the Bush administration. Instead, the Michigan-born Material Girl has insisted the production contains a pro-peace message.

The video opens at a fashion show of models strutting a catwalk in haute couture military fatigues, wearing army helmets, gas masks and necklaces of bullets and grenades. It continues with Madonna dressed in a military outfit crashing a camouflaged car into the stage, intercut with images of jets dropping bombs and fiery explosions.

It also contains a scene in which Madonna tosses a grenade to a character who bears a striking resemblance to Bush and who uses it to light his cigar.

“I feel lucky to be an American citizen for many reasons, one of which is the right to express myself freely,” Madonna said in a statement posted in February on her website, www.madonna.com.

“I am not anti-Bush. I am not pro-Iraq,” she said. “I am pro-peace. I have written a song and created a video which expresses my feelings about our culture and values and illusions of what many people believe is the American dream — the perfect life.”

The 44-year-old singer added that she hoped the video would provoke “thought and dialogue” and did not expect everyone to agree with her point of view.

“I am grateful to have the freedom to express these feelings and that’s how I honour my country,” she said.

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