How much controversy can one empty gesture cause? If today’s Internet furor is anything to go by, a lot. In a blink-and-you’ll miss it moment (we didn’t even blink and we missed it the first time around!) during last night’s Super Bowl half time performance, rapper M.I.A. gave cameras the middle finger live on stage, as she suggestively sang “I don’t give a shhhh…” during Madonna‘s “Give Me All Your Luvin'”. In an vain attempt to erase the ‘obscene’ gesture, the broadcast blurred seconds later — but it was too late! We already saw it! That dreaded, awful… Middle finger! GASP!
Of the ‘incident’, Brian McCarthy, spokesman for the NFL said, “The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing and we apologize to our fans,” while NBC spokesman Christopher McCloskey said, “The NFL hired the talent and produced the halftime show. Our system was late to obscure the inappropriate gesture and we apologize to our viewers.” We feel like we really missed something here — on the spectrum of one to controversial in the Madonna-sphere, a flipped bird seems pretty weak.
We were really expecting the show to yield some real controversy — Madonna stealing a kiss with Nicki perchance (not that we think there’s anything wrong with that, but we imagine it really would have caused a stir!), or something along the lines of a boundary-pushing, 80s Madonna. Instead what we got was a half-baked push of the button, and not even by Madonna herself. It’s unclear whether or not the action was staged; if it was orchestrated by Madonna, we think it’s a cop out on her part to have the non-white, UK artist make the move. However, if it was an impromptu movement on M.I.A’s part, it seems like a fairly desperate attempt to reclaim the title of “edgy” pop star after the truffle fries incident.
Either way, the flipped bird was school-yard level offensive at best — and it seems like detractors were expecting to have something to gripe about before they even saw the show, so are grasping at straws to find something perturbing about the performance. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, and in this case, the complaint-mongers are milking that bird for all it’s worth.
[Photo: Getty Images]