When rapper M.I.A. performed during the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show with Madonna and Nicki Minaj, she gave the audience the middle finger, instantly joining the infamous football faux pas ranks of Janet Jackson, with her “wardrobe malfunction,” and Christina Aguilera, with her lyrical snafu during the national anthem.
M.I.A., a British rapper, was given the opportunity of a lifetime to perform in front of some 150-million viewers at Sunday’s big game, and she certainly seized the moment. She not only flipped off the audience, but it was also reported that the 36-year-old appeared to sing, “I don’t give a s**t, at one point, though it was barely audible.
M.I.A. who is also a songwriter, record producer, and painter and whose actual name is Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, began her career as a visual artist, designer, and filmmaker before catapulting herself in to the rap game in 2002. She has been nominated for an Academy Award, two Grammy Awards, and the Mercury Prize. Esquire magazine also ranked M.I.A. on its list of the 75 most-influential people of the 21st century, and Time Magazine named her one of the world’s most-influential people. Her albums have generated widespread acclaim and her activism for oppressed people around the world, including the Tamils, Palestinians and African Americans, has been, for the most part, heralded.
Her career has not gone without criticism, though. In 2010, M.I.A. criticized the New York Times, when she tweeted, “F**k the New York Times,” after the paper published controversial articles about M.I.A. and Sri Lanka. Now, M.I.A. has once again stirred the pot and the media is letting her have it with both barrels.
Since M.I.A.’s bird flip, while both the NFL and NBC have apologized, both organizations are throwing each other under the bus. The NFL blamed NBC for being not quick enough to censor the gesture, while NBC noted that the NFL is responsible for the content of the half-time show.
Given the history of those performers who strive for shock value during the huge event, the NFL covered themselves this time. So M.I.A.’s little expletive might wind up costing the performer plenty. Apparently TMZ also reports that there was a little stipulation in M.I.A.’s signed contract which states, she agrees to indemnify the NFL for any money it might be forced to pay if the FCC comes gunning for them. According to TMZ, the football league has no intention of doling out the big bucks and wants to send out a clear message to performers who plan on breaking indecency laws with regards to the airwaves.
Janet Jackson’s 2004 “Nipplegate” incident during the Super Bowl XXXVIII when her right breast was exposed by Justin Timberlake during a performance, resulted in an FCC fine of a record $550,000 against CBS and its affiliates for broadcasting the lewd event. Many viewed the act as fleeting indecency which raised concerns on the issue of decreasing morality in the national culture. Now M.I.A. has stirred the pot yet again with her latest display.
On Monday morning, host Gretchen Carlson on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” urged M.I.A. to “get a life,” and celeb hound Perez Hilton tweeted:
PerezHilton Perez Hilton
M.I.A. gives the middle finger during the Super Bowl Halftime Show! http://perez.ly/yJBejv Think she’ll ever be invited on live U.S. TV again?
M.I.A. flipped the bird and mighta-sorta uttered a bad word during Madonna’s rap portion. Knicker-knotting commenced almost immediately. If nothing else, we get to see how far things have come since Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” eight years ago. Have we evolved? Which is to say, have we devolved enough to let it blow over?
The performer is also being criticized by the Parents Television Council over her Super Bowl antics:
NBC fumbled and the NFL lied because a performer known as M.I.A. felt it necessary to flip off millions of families. It is unfortunate that a spectacular sporting event was overshadowed once again by broadcasting the selfish acts of a desperate performer.
Last week the NFL formally told the PTC – and the American public – that the Super Bowl halftime show would be ‘appropriate.’ Most families would agree that the middle finger aimed directly at them is not appropriate, especially during the most-watched television event of the year.
Is M.I.A.’s incident similar to Jackson’s Super Bowl media frenzy which was attributed to a “wardrobe malfunction.” Now there are reports that M.I.A.’s finger wave might have innocently been caused by “adrenaline, nerves and getting caught up in the moment.”
Can we then blame M.I.A.’s incident on a “middle finger malfunction?”