Demi Lovato’s album poster featuring a bondage outfit and crucifix bed was too much for U.K. Christians—so they got it banned

January 11, 2023, 11:49 AM UTC
Demi Lovato attends the Z100's iHeartRadio Jingle Ball 2022
Demi Lovato's posters in London were taken down after just four days.
Dia Dipasupil—Getty Images

Singer Demi Lovato’s posters advertising her new album have been banned in the U.K. after they were branded as “offensive to Christians” by the advertising watchdog. 

Lovato released Holy Fvck in August last year and the cover pictures the singer lying on what appears to be a crucifix dressed in bondage gear with her legs tied down. The lyrics deal with “demons, death, sex” and refer to alcohol abuse, drug addiction, and the singer’s struggles with mental health. 

The posters, which featured the same image, were displayed in six separate locations across London last summer, but were removed after four days. 

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it received complaints and that the picture of Lovato was “reminiscent of Christ on the Cross” and was “likely to be viewed as linking sexuality to the sacred symbol of the crucifix and the crucifixion.” 

ASA also took issue with the album title, which clearly alludes to a curse word, and maintained that the poster locations were inappropriately placed as they were likely to be seen by children. The agency said they “considered that the ad was likely to result in serious and widespread offense and had been targeted irresponsibly.”

Polydor Records defended the artwork and said they didn’t believe it was offensive, adding that prior to release they had checked with advertising agency Brotherhood Media as to whether it was okay before pushing forward with promotion. Polydor said it was approved by the agency, which is why they went ahead. 

According to the ASA’s ruling, Demi Lovato’s poster is banned in its original form unless it appears in appropriate locations. Asa also warned Universal Music Operations Ltd. not to make the same mistake again in the future. 

From Madonna to Lady Gaga

Lovato is certainly not the first popular artist to have caused controversy through depictions of Christian symbols. The 1989 music video for Madonna’s “Like A Prayer,” which features the singer dancing in front of burning crosses inside a church and kissing a Black religious figure, was condemned by the Vatican

Lady Gaga was also subject to strong criticism in 2011 following the release of “Judas,” which prompted the president of the Catholic League to say: “She is trying to rip off Christian idolatry to shore up her talentless, mundane, and boring performances.” 

More recently, singer Lil Nas X stirred up controversy among religious groups for a depiction of him dancing sexually with Satan in the music video for “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).”

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