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Flashback Video: 'Papa Don't Preach' by Madonna

Ever since the dawn of MTV and Friday Night Videos, the music video has significantly impacted musical tastes and pop culture. It might not be as extreme as when the Buggles declared that "Video Killed the Radio Star", but there is no arguing that the music video certainly could make or break a song's popularity. So this regular Flashback Video feature will serve to remember some of the music videos from the great '80s decade that made an impact on me in one way or another.


This issue we will cover "Papa Don't Preach" by Madonna. This was the second single released from her True Blue album in June of 1986. It was another huge hit for Madonna spending two weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in August of that year. The song received lots of radio airplay that summer as well as its music video in very heavy rotation on MTV.


The music video for "Papa Don't Preach" was directed by James Foley who had previously directed the 1986 film At Close Range starring Madonna's then husband Sean Penn and her video for "Live To Tell" which was featured in that film. Foley then went on to direct the music video for Madonna's "True Blue" as well as her 1987 film Who's That Girl. Foley did not direct any more music videos, but continued in film and television including 1992's Glengarry Glen Ross.


This music video introduced most people to Madonna's new look including a leaner, more toned body as well as shortly cropped platinum blonde hair. This was quite the departure from her "Material Girl" look. "Papa Don't Preach" was shot on location mostly in Staten Island, New York but also in Manhattan. The main storyline of the video revolved around Madonna trying to tell her father that she had gotten pregnant and was keeping the baby. Her father is played by actor Danny Aiello. Madonna personally chose Aiello, but he has claimed he had never heard of the singer before and only agreed to do the video after his daughter pleaded with him to do so. Madonna's boyfriend is played by little-known actor Alex McArthur who she had noticed in a small role in the 1985 film Desert Hearts.


Madonna is shown in the video dressed very casually, but then there are shots interspersed of her in a black studio dressed much sexier. The story has a relatively happy ending after the initially upset father comes to grips and accepts his daughter's decision to have the baby. Here is the music video for "Papa Don't Preach" by Madonna...



Shortly after its release, the song caused heated discussions about its lyrical content. Women's organizations and others in the family planning field criticized Madonna for encouraging teenage pregnancy, while groups opposed to abortion saw the song as having a positive pro-life message. I remember seeing this video countless times that summer, but I don't recall thinking about the song in either way at the time.

Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!

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