Madonna has had starring roles in a number of films including Desperately Seeking Susan, Evita, Dick Tracy Swept Away and Shanghai Surprise, in the last with her then husband Sean Penn. Overall her movie success did not live up to the success of her singing career and was dropped after her last films were universally panned. She was married for seven years to British film director Guy Ritchie . Ritchie's career suffered during his marriage to Madonna but upon their divorcing he returned to his pre-martial box office success with "Sherlock Homes." They are currently divorced and she has taken to dating men who are in their early twenties and whom she financially supports.
Ciccone often claims to be a trail blazer for female empowerment.
In the USA, conservatives (especially Christians) have objected to Ciccone's "immoral" or "immodest" garb and extremely sacrilegious material such as videos featuring her simulating immoral acts with statues and public vulgarity. Pope John Paul II was especially critical of Madonna, urging Catholics to boycott her music and concerts.
Early in her career, she became known for her "risqué" attitudes towards religion and sexuality, and she spawned imitators like Paris Hilton and Tila Tequila, who were inspired by her to be even more grotesque. Her own vulgarity was perhaps best exemplified in the music videos for her songs "Erotica," featuring implied homosexuality and other abhorrent sexual practices, and "Like a Prayer" which implies a sexual relationship between Madonna and a sculpture of a black Jesus Christ which comes to life during the course of the video. Her Truth or Dare "documentary" and an accompanying book provocatively titled "Sex" both were explicit displays of her deviant sexual exploits and were harshly criticized by pro-family groups. Many critics have called her actions as "manipulative" and "deliberately controversial" to simply to stay famous. Madonna's constant need to expose her body and act vulgar by deeming her actions "empowering" has negatively influenced many younger females, single handedly spawning "raunch" or "pornochic culture."
Madonna has reputedly had extensive plastic surgery including a full facelift, cheekbone implants and botox which was necessitated by an obsessive compulsive addiction to exercise which had degraded and wasted her face and body by her late 30's. Non-photoshopped pictures of Madonna often surface on the internet.
For over a decade, Madonna has also been religiously following a mystical cult rooted in bogus Judaism called Kabbalah which she has also used as a means to exploit the impoverished country of Malawi via her Raising Malawi Foundation. Her "work" to create orphanages and schools in Malawi have come with a thinly veiled "Kabbalah only clause", meaning the children must be indoctrinated into this cult to at least some extent if they want to partake in the services. A 2008 fundraiser for Raising Malawi on the lawn of the UN saw many government and entertainment figures, including Oprah Winfrey, distancing themselves from Madonna. Many international human rights and childrens rights organizations have fought or spoken out regarding her illegal adoptions of two Malawian children which were only successful after documented payoffs to corrupt government officials. Upon the recent "adoption" of her newest Malawian child, Mercy James, Madonna embarked on a six month concert tour of Europe and the child was given over to nannies and full time staff in clear view of the media. The "schools for Malawi" that Madonna had vowed to build "so many of" have yet to exist.