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Four Defenses of M.I.A.'s Middle Finger

Posted: 02/ 7/2012 5:50 pm

During the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday night, rapper M.I.A. gave the finger to the hundred million fans watching around the world. It didn't last very long, but in the days since the incident, practically everyone except for the singer herself has apologized. Even if M.I.A. isn't fined for her gesture, she could pay in other ways. For some, the incident was a reminder of the 2004 Janet Jackson fiasco, and it delivered a fresh round of commentary about decency on TV. "Can we just agree that next year, the Super Bowl will carry a warning sticker noting that despite high-level of play, some viewers may be disturbed by on-field activities? That should solve it," says Nick Gillespie at Reason. "What do other commentators make of the situation and the future for the annual festivities?

Relax, people: "I wish everybody would stop and take a breath. It's the Super Bowl, remember? It's supposed to be a bunch of cool, edgy commercials and an overproduced, pseudo-controversial halftime show, all wrapped around a boring game," says Gail Shister at The Philly Post. "As in the past," added a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial, "the predictable effects of this silly incident were excessive media attention, effusive Internet traffic, a smattering of protests and little of consequence whatsoever."

Let's move on: "The outrage is tiresome and deeply hypocritical, in all the tiresome ways you've been tired out by before. M.I.A. was illustrating her line, acting out the attitude of the words: performing," says The New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones. "Fine, it may not be legal to flip the bird on television, but that's simply a remnant of the fifties we haven't shaken."

It's good TV: "Anything rattling the league's self-righteous attitude is a blessed event," says Mike Imrem at Chicago's Daily Herald. "To me, NBC has nothing to apologize for or be fined for. Live television is supposed to be real life, or else you wind up with one of those unscripted scripts pawned off as reality TV."

Redo the halftime show completely: "Truthfully, if the NFL wants to save itself from even this tepid level of annoyance while making the halftime show something people would actually watch and talk about the next day, it's time to get rid of the music entirely," says Ray Ratto at CBS Sports. "It's dated, bland, lip-synched nonsense by people and bands that only appeal to 50-year-olds in denial about no longer being hipsters. The answer, and I may have proposed this before in some other drunken venue, maybe even this one, is comedians."

 

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