Parents blast NBC, NFL for 'enabling' M.I.A. gesture at Super Bowl

M.I.A. at Super Bowl 2012, without her bird.

The Parents Television Council, an advocacy group concerned about what kids see on TV, is blasting NBC and the NFL for the vulgar gesture that came in the middle of Super Bowl XLVI halftime show featuring Madonna and other performers.

About eight minutes into Madonna's act, British sensation M.I.A. appeared to curse, saying, "I don't give a … ." But it's difficult to clearly hear her on the video. 

But what came next was much more clear: She flipped her middle finger to the more than 110 million American viewers. 

The L.A.-based Parents Television Council says the blame lies squarely with the National Football League and NBC for choosing a lineup of performers with a history of shocking and controversial behavior. Using sharp language, the council said: "Instead of preventing indecent material, they enabled it. M.I.A. used a middle finger shamelessly to bring controversial attention to herself, while effectively telling an audience filled with children, '... you.' "

PHOTOS: Super Bowl 2012

NBC and the NFL have apologized. But the PTC says that's not good enough and wants those responsible to be held "accountable." The statement released by PTC President Tim Winter doesn't specify what that means or who should be held repsonsible. We have asked the PTC for clarification.

Winter accused the NFL of lying to the public last week when it promised that the halftime show would be suitable for all audiences, a new standard ushered in following Janet Jackson's infamous Nipplegate in 2004.

And the council said that NBC failed in its obligations as well. The network should have been poised to blur the vulgarity and bleep it. NBC says it tried, but apparently it did not move quickly enough. (There was an attempt to blur the screen, but it came after the offensive gesture.)

Here is the full PTC statement from Winter:

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.

The mechanism NBC had in place to catch this type of material completely failed, and the network cannot say it was caught off guard. It has been eight years since the Janet Jackson striptease, and both NBC and the NFL knew full well what might happen. They chose a lineup full of performers who have based their careers on shock, profanity and titillation. Instead of preventing indecent material, they enabled it. M.I.A. used a middle finger shamelessly to bring controversial attention to herself, while effectively telling an audience filled with children, '... you.'

A simple apology rings hollow after yet another slap in the face to families, especially when NBC has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that it should be allowed to air all manner of indecent material at any time of day, even when children are watching.  

Either the NFL and NBC will take immediate steps to hold those accountable for this offensive material in front of a hundred million Americans, or they will feebly sit back and do nothing. The nation -- and the PTC -- is watching.

ALSO:

Super Bowl 2012 ads: Yawn

Super Bowl 2012: Will M.I.A. finger draw FCC fine?

Super Bowl 2012: Madonna shines, M.I.A. shocks, Birmingham shocks

-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: MIA performs at the Super Bowl halftime show. Credit: David J. Phillip / Associated Press

 
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Rene Lynch has been an editor and writer in Metro, Sports, Business, Calendar and Food. @ReneLynch

As an editor and reporter, Michael Muskal has covered local, national, economic and foreign issues at three newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. @latimesmuskal


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