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.
Madonna’s halftime performance at this year’s Super Bowl may very well make this list, but it hasn’t happened yet, so until it does, here are my five favorite Super Bowl Music Moments:
5. “The Super Bowl Shuffle” (Super Bowl XX, 1985-86)
A pump-up rap anthem made by the Chicago Bears leading up to Super Bowl XX. Looking back, it’s hard not to wince at football players trying to dance, but back then the song (and accompanying music video) was awesome, charting at #41 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
4. Michael Jackson Doing Absolutely Nothing (Super Bowl XXVII, 1993)
Dangerous-Era Michael Jackson did perform a handful of songs, but what I remember most is his frozen-in-time pose at the beginning of the halftime show. If you’re Michel Jackson you can use some of your allotted set time doing absolutely nothing.
It’s on — with the Super Bowl looming ever closer, everyone is talking about that half time show, and what the Queen Of Pop, Madonna, will bring to the stage for the momentous occasion. Never one to do things by halves, suspicions that Madonna’s show will be spectacular are well founded, with reports flooding in that she’ll appear with special guests M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj, and that she’ll be “bringing gay” to the performance. Now, will.i.am has got everyone in a flap by commenting that seizure-dance club kids LMFAO will be joining Madge for the show. In an interview with UK radio station Capital FM, will.i.am said, “I’m going to the Super Bowl this year to see my group LMFAO perform with Madonna. Check that out, will.i.am Music Group is pretty freaking two for two, one year the Super Bowl, the next year another group part of the Super Bowl in collaboration with Madonna. That’s still happening.”
We’re not casting an aspersions on will.i.am’s integrity, but it does seem like a very odd pairing. Yes, “Party Rock Anthem” was a chart topper, but LMFAO’s high energy, doof-blasting dance music doesn’t even come close to being similar with Madonna’s perfectly curated pop sound and image. And from what’s been leaked of MDNA, for instance, the demo to “Gimme All Your Luvin’” it doesn’t seem like Madonna is going down the euro-trance path with her music either. So what would they even play together? Are we looking at a mash-up of the two artists’ music? Or has Madge got something else up her sleeve — a secret collaboration perhaps? And will Nicki and M.I.A still be there? What’s going on? will.i.am has sure ruffled our feathers this morning, and we need answers!