M.I.A.'s Super Bowl finger: Now, the finger pointing has begun
M.I.A.'s raised middle finger now stands alongside Janet Jackson's exposed nipple in the rogues' gallery of infamous Super Bowl halftime body parts. And on Monday, the day after the Giants' last-minute win over the Patriots at Super Bowl XLVI, the harrumphing has begun.
Midway through Madonna's extravagant Super Bowl halftime show, guest performer M.I.A. flipped the bird to millions of viewers while singing "Give Me All Your Luvin'." Broadcast censors attempted to blur it out, but the timing was off, with the blurred screen happening just moments after M.I.A.'s bird had flown.
Perhaps most outraged is the Parents Television Council. PTC President Tim Winter released a statement taking NBC to task for the slipped finger.
"NBC fumbled and the NFL lied because a performer known as M.I.A. felt it necessary to flip off millions of families," Winter said. "It is unfortunate that a spectacular sporting event was overshadowed once again by broadcasting the selfish acts of a desperate performer."
Sunday night, a source close to M.I.A. said the performer had been struck with "a case of adrenaline."
"She wasn't thinking," the source said. "It wasn't any kind of statement. She was caught in the moment and she's incredibly sorry."
But sorry isn't cutting it for Winter. "The mechanism NBC had in place to catch this type of material completely failed, and the network cannot say it was caught off guard," he said. "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.
"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."
In January, representatives from the broadcast networks made their case before the Supreme Court that sought to lift the tight regulations over profanity and nudity on broadcast TV when there are no such restrictions on cable.
CBS had been locked in a years-long struggle with the FCC over a $500,000 fine imposed after the 2004 Super Bowl when halftime performer Janet Jackson's nipple was briefly exposed in what was dubbed a "wardrobe malfunction." In November, an appellate court ruling invalidated the fine against the network.
A decision from the high court is expected by summer.
-- Patrick Kevin Day
Photo: From left, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, M.I.A. at Sunday's Super Bowl. Tennen Maury / EPA