In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Madonna and Sandra Bernhard were best friends. This was especially apparent when they appeared together on Late Night with David Letterman during the summer of 1988.
Something went wrong between the two in 1992, and Sandra appeared on many shows and magazine covers bashing Madonna. As the years went by, Bernhard became less angry. Now, she is defending Madonna after some of her comments were taken out of context at the Women’s March in January.
“Yes, I’m angry. Yes, I am outraged. Yes, I have thought an awful lot of blowing up the White House, but I know that this won’t change anything. We cannot fall into despair. As the poet, W.H. Auden once wrote on the eve of World War II: We must love one another or die,” Madonna is quoted as saying by Elle.
Madonna followed up her quote by asking the audience to repeat, “We choose love.” However, the part after the “blowing up the White House” words was completely cut off by most major media sources. Even Cyndi Lauper, who’s career faltered after Madonna’s took off in 1985, criticized Madonna based on the incomplete quote.
“I don’t think it served our purpose. Anger is not better than clarity and humanity. That is what opens people’s minds,” Lauper said, according to Vulture, while angrily condemning Madonna.
However, according to SF Weekly, it appears that Sandra Bernhard didn’t take the woman-against-woman route and gave a different outlook.
“Madonna wasn’t being literal, and she didn’t suggest that she wanted to band with terrorists and blow up the White House. She was in the moment and being off the cuff in the way she does. Who f***ing cares? She certainly has the right take on it.”
Bernhard added that one can’t expect Madonna to be Angela Davis or Gloria Steinem since everybody has their level that they express themselves at. Bernhard noted that she and Madonna are similar in the way they are outspoken.
Sandra Bernhard has been outspoken for decades, and many consider her honesty about her sexuality and her role in Roseanne to have helped the LGBT community at a time when being pro-LGBT was considered a bad thing.
Sandra Bernhard played the role of Nancy Bartlett on Roseanne, and it was the first time on American television that a huge prime time audience got to know a television character who was later revealed to be a lesbian. The audience loved Bernhard’s role, which many believe set the stage for Ellen’s character to come out on her show in 1997.
Like Madonna, there is one huge issue that Bernhard is enraged about — misogyny.
“There’s a big fear on the part of the patriarchy of losing control. But everything is changing very quickly and that scares people, including a lot of women who capitulate to men,” Bernhard tells SF Weekly, adding that many women grew up with the patriarchy, which creates resentment towards other women who are able to climb out of the norm and have support.
In the same interview, Bernhard also muses on another strong woman, Mary Tyler Moore, who recently passed away. Bernhard says the comedian got her through high school and that Tyler Moore magnified the feminist movement.
“Mary was a working girl, and her sense of style, her sense of independence, like being able to spend Saturday nights with Rhoda and not have to go on a date — that was an earth-shattering revelation for a lot of women,” Bernhard recalls.
Sandra Bernhard has taken after her idol and has been a role model for strong women for decades. Bernhard’s latest show, Sandra Monica Blvd: Coast to Coast, opens this week.
[Featured Image by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images]