By Amy Ryan
Updated August 03, 2020 at 07:49 PM EDT

It’s not like I was looking forward to seeing Madonna sing “Live to Tell” while mounted on a disco-mirrored crucifix anyway. Madge’s martyr complex may be the most tiresome element of her persona. Still, that may have been the only thing that was going to get the curious to tune in to her Nov. 22 concert special on NBC. Now that the network has announced the controversial imagery won’t be shown (the concert has been re-edited, apparently with Madonna’s reluctant acquiescence), the special has lost its biggest ratings draw.

The decision may not make sense on practical grounds, but then NBC’s game lately is entirely defensive (and not at all offensive, in any sense of the word). This is also the network that caved earlier this year on The Book of Daniel; the surprise isn’t that they backtracked on their earlier assertions that Madonna could keep the crucifix sequence but that they agreed to air it in the first place.

What irks me is that the same people who complained that NBC didn’t showthose Danish Mohammed cartoons are now praising the network forcensoring Madonna. I’m guessing that NBC runs more offensive-to-Christians material every week on Studio 60, but it’s not the big takedown target that Madonna is. Now everybody — NBC, the religious protesters,and Madonna herself (who defended the crucifix routine in a lengthy statement a few weeks ago, then quietly cut it from the broadcast) — can pretend they’ve done something significant to protect the delicate sensibilities of American viewers. Congratulations, everyone! Sleep easy tonight.