M.I.A. Sparks Yet Another Superbowl Halftime Controversy

Another season of football came to a close Sunday with the highly anticipated Giants vs Patriots rematch.  While the game brought record numbers (it is now currently the highest viewed program of all time with 111.3 million viewers), it wasn’t the game that news outlets were focused on coming Monday morning.

This years Superbowl saw Madonna take the stage with a myriad of supporting singers, which included Cee Lo Green, LMFAO! and Nicki Minaj, but it was M.I.A. who brought controversy back to halftime for the first time since the infamous “nipplegate” incident back in 2004.  When Janet Jackson exposed her nipple on national televisions the landscape of televised live events changed and networks cracked down.  Apparently the delay that was instituted in the wake of that situation did little to prevent millions from having M.I.A. flip them the bird while mouthing “I don’t give a shit”.

This incident has brought about another flurry of media coverage and two distinguished press releases from both NBC and the NFL.  NBC’s press release eloquently apologized for the “inappropriate” gesture, while the NFL condemned NBC for not blurring the incident and referred to the incident as “obscene”. It’s the use of the word “obscene” that has started a war of words between the NFL and NBC, a war that will most likely end up with a fine being levied down from the FCC.

It is interesting to me that in a sport where half dressed women dance on the sidelines and coaches and players are seen visibly cursing when plays don’t work out, that such a small and insignificant gesture can garner this much attention.  This is nowhere near as controversial as Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction”, but it will place even further restrictions on the way live broadcast events are viewed if it makes its way to the FCC.  If things continue at this rate, in another 8 years it will be considered to “risky” to put on a halftime show and we will enjoy announcers sitting around a table discussing tirelessly a game that we are in the midst of watching.

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