The Washington Post

M.I.A.: Did she flip the bird during the Super Bowl halftime show?

Madonna with Nicki Minaj, left, and M.I.A., who was only lifting a pom-pom at this point in the performance. (Michael Conroy/AP)

Madonna may have made it through her Super Bowl halftime show with no wardrobe malfunctions. But one of her fellow performers still managed to sneak in a gesture that may not please the FCC.

As confirmed by a screengrab that circulated on Twitter, M.I.A. — who joined Madonna and Nicki Minaj for the track “Give Me All Your Luvin’ ” — raised her middle finger toward the camera during her performance. M.I.A.’s simultaneous use of the s-word appeared to have been bleeped out; moments after the incident, the screen went black a beat longer than usual for a television transition, especially in so orchestrated a show.

NBC and the NFL issued apologies for the incident, with an NBC spokesman characterizing the finger-flipping episode as “a spontaneous gesture that our delay system caught late.”

This would not be the first time the “Paper Planes” artist has courted controversy. She’s long enjoyed flaunting her connection to the Sri Lanka Tamil Tigers, and her latest music video shows her rapping and steering through the streets of a Middle Eastern country in what appears to be a protest of Saudi Arabian laws that bar women from driving.

While the FCC could — maybe — slap a fine on NBC for this halftime mishap (one not nearly as noticeable as the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake incident of 2004) the harsher punishment may have been issued backstage. I’m not sure how friendly Madonna may be feeling after being upstaged by both M.I.A. and Cee Lo Green during her own halftime show.

Did you even notice this middle-digit moment? And do you think it’s worthy of FCC action? Weigh in by posting a comment.


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