M.I.A., a 36-year-old U.K. rapper, flipped the bird, a.k.a. a middle finger, while singing with Madonna in the halftime show at the Super Bowl. NBC and the NFL apologized for the incident.
She has not said if it was intended as a slight on the U.S., an attempt to gain some limelight, or what. The incident, during the game won by the New York Giants, 21-17 over the New England Patriots, has created a minor flap and both the broadcaster and the NFL has sent out statements apologizing for it. The NFL blamed NBC for not have a workable delay system to block out the finger, which seemed to be accompanied by M.I.A. mouthing the phrase "I don't give a shit."
Statements over finger from NBC and NFL
The finger brought to mind a 2004 Super Bowl incident when one of Janet Jackson's nipples was exposed very briefly during her halftime performance. Jackson, performing with Justin Timberlake, said it was unintended. There has been extra vigilance since that incident to maintain a clean act and to make certain the delay process was such that NBC can bleep out anything deemed inappropriate.
It doesn't seem to have worked and the blame game has started. “There was a failure in NBC’s delay system,” the NFL said. “The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing, and we apologize to our fans.”
Meanwhile, NBC, who initially released a statement from spokesperson Christopher McCloskey apologizing for the "the inappropriate gesture that aired during halftime. It was a spontaneous gesture that our delay system caught late" decided to fire back at the NFL. Their second statement pointed out that the "NFL hired the talent and produced the halftime show.”
Madonna has been silent to date in all of this. The middle finger gesture came during the performance of her new single: “Give Me All Your Luvin’.