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Here are two words I thought I would never write: Poor Madonna.
Within an hour of Super Bowl XLVI’s conclusion, the focus had already shifted off Madge's half-time performance onto M.I.A., who, for whatever reason, decided to act like a total brat and shoot the bird while performing “Give Me All Your Luvin.”
For anyone who thinks it was cool and oh so rebellious, you’re dead wrong. It was disrespectful and rude. Any six year old knows how to give the finger and it takes about that much smarts and imagination. M.I.A. was Madonna’s invited guest and, if nothing else, she should have realized that her little expression would totally take the focus off of the star...or maybe that was her goal.
Madonna had gone out of her way to stress that she wasn’t going for the controversy, there would be no nip slip or wardrobe malfunction, but she had to know she was running the risk of M.I.A. pulling some stunt since M.I.A. has certainly not been shy about expressing her opinion or making controversial comments. But I bet she thought the risk was pretty damn small.
Just in case the "Paper Planes" performer didn’t make her point visually, M.I.A. also blurted out an expletive, though it was slightly muffled. To be sure, it's not as if we haven't all seen worse offenses (in some of the Super Bowl commercials alone), but it was an uncalled for, classless move.
So both the NFL and NBC have had to go on the defensive: “We apologize for the inappropriate gesture that aired during halftime,” said NBC’s Christopher McCloskey. “It was a spontaneous gesture that our delay system caught late.” I don’t know how McCloskey knows it was “spontaneous.”
The NFL has already taken a much less conciliatory tone. “The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing, and we apologize to our fans,” said the NFL’s Brian McCarthy. He added that M.I.A. did not do the gesture in rehearsal.
We haven’t heard from M.I.A., who last tweeted a few hours before taking the stage, or Madonna or her manager Guy Oseary (other than his post-halftime tweet “What a magical night!”), but it’s impossible to think that Madge is amused...or that she was in on the little stunt. If Madonna was, then shame on her for having M.I.A. do her dirty work, but I can't imagine that she put in weeks of work to have M.I.A. steal her thunder and bring down the NFL’s wrath. She seemed very aware of how important this performance was to exposing her to a younger audience, which was part of the point of having M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj join her, and promoting her next album, “MDNA,” out March 20.
So M.I.A., we’re interested to hear what you have to say for yourself. If you had to do it all over again, would you? Any thought that maybe you owe Madonna an apology or, at least, a fruit basket?
M.I.A., we look very forward to seeing what you do when you headline the Super Bowl half-time show all on your own. Yeah, like that would ever happen...
What did you think of M.I.A.'s move? The NFL fined Green Bay Packer A.J. Hawk $10,000 when he flipped the bird on camera. Should M.I.A. be fined?
Follow Melinda Newman on Twitter @HitFixMelinda
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