Madonna started telling stories about her own early career (like living in a crack house and being mistaken for a prostitute), eventually mentioning Franklin briefly when she recalled singing "(You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman" a cappella at an ultimately unsuccessful audition.
And all of that was while she was wearing a culturally appropriative headdress.
It was a truly bizarre trainwreck to watch, and Twitter isn't letting Madonna get away with the lack of R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
See reactions that range from awe-struck to bewildered to just plain angry below.
@Madonna please have two seats. You couldn't hold the skillet Aretha make cornbread in, You are so self absorbed they have toilet paper with your face on it. I hope Aretha reaches out and slaps you back to Detroit.— LifesSweetIndulgence (@blk24ktxt2) August 21, 2018
Madonna making Aretha's tribute about herself is honestly an inspiration to Leos everywhere— Ira (@ira) August 21, 2018
I'm so lost. I thought Madonna was supposed to be paying homage to Aretha but I all heard was her paying homage to herself. HEAVY on the Mayonnaise......— Charlamagne Tha God (@cthagod) August 21, 2018
Madonna did the tribute speech for Aretha Franklin. Madonna did the tribute performance for Prince. Madonna did the tribute speech for Michael Jackson...why? Who keeps thinking its a good idea to hire Madonna to eulogize Black artists who have passed away?— LEFT⚫️ (@LeftSentThis) August 21, 2018
Aretha: "What was that....?"— ithl123 (@ithl123) August 21, 2018
Prince: "Chile, she fucked up mine too." pic.twitter.com/Bxt1dLd8up
Aretha watching Madonna's tribute to her from heaven .... pic.twitter.com/fuMkCCf1AT— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) August 21, 2018
Are you fucking kidding me?!?! WHOEVER LET THAT WHITE WOMAN WITH A GRILL GET UP THERE AND TALK ABOUT HERSELF LIKE A FOOL SHOULD BE SMACKED IN THE FACE WITH A FROZEN STEAK!! THAT WAS A COMPLETE DISGRACE TO ARETHA!!! Ugh. Whyyy Madonna?! WHY?!?!— Eryn Allen Kane (@ErynAllenKane) August 21, 2018
MTV: We'd like you to give a tribute to Aretha Franklin— lgreene91 (@lgreene91) August 21, 2018
Madonna: Great, so this is how I got my career started...
MTV: No, no, a tribute to Aretha
Madonna: So I said "bitch, I'm Madonna"
MTV: This isn't about you madge
Madonna: Look at my African jewelry #VMAs
Madonna dressing up as my ancestors at the vma's lmaooooo did she find out she's 1% moroccan? pic.twitter.com/eXc8p7H8Fa— princeMONONOKE (@futuresfirst) August 21, 2018