Rapper Flips The Bird During Super Bowl Halftime Show

The NFL and NBC probably thought that hiring a headliner for the halftime show who was born before the Super Bowl even existed would keep the controversy to a minimum, but they were wrong:

The NFL and a major television network are apologizing for another Super Bowl halftime show.

There was no wardrobe malfunction, nothing like that glimpse of Janet Jackson’s nipple eight years ago that caused an uproar and a government scrutiny. Instead, it was an extended middle finger from British singer M.I.A. during Sunday night’s performance of Madonna’s new single, “Give Me All Your Luvin.”

In front of some 110 million viewers on NBC and uncounted others online, she flipped the bird and appeared to sing, “I don’t give a (expletive)” at one point, though it was hard to hear her clearly.

The NFL and NBC wasted little time in responding.

“The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing and we apologize to our fans,” said Brian McCarthy, spokesman for the NFL, which produced Madonna’s halftime show.

The risque moment came during the biggest TV event of the year. The screen briefly went blurred after M.I.A.’s gesture in what was a late attempt — by less than a second — to cut out the camera shot.

“The NFL hired the talent and produced the halftime show,” NBC spokesman Christopher McCloskey said. “Our system was late to obscure the inappropriate gesture and we apologize to our viewers.”

I was half watching the halftime show last night — although quite honestly I kind of tuned out in the beginning when Madonna came out dressed as an Egyptian Queen on a massive chariot being pulled by what appeared to be Roman soldiers — and I can’t say I even noticed this. Of course, I have no idea who M.I.A. is and wouldn’t recognize her if she was standing next to me. In any event, I have to wonder what the NFL is going to do when the Super Bowl is in New Jersey in 2014, that gesture is our official state greeting after all.

In any event, one more controversy like this and we’re likely to return to something like “Up With People.”

Here’s the video, if you care to watch:

Photo via CNN

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Herb says:

    M.I.A. rulez. I can’t imagine how anyone who’s familiar with her career would think she wouldn’t be provocative. That’s kind of her thing.

  2. Franklin says:

    I guess a middle finger is provocative, but certainly not thought-provoking.

  3. Herb says:

    @Franklin: Guess that depends….makes you think why they don’t have Chris Berman doing a season recap instead.

  4. Ernieyeball says:

    I actually thought the first minute or so was the best part of the show notwithstanding the joker bouncing off the low wire with his genitals.
    Did not see the bird but I am confused at all the uproar over the international sign language gesture for human lovemaking.
    What’s the matter with people anyway?

  5. michael reynolds says:

    Noooooooooo! Nooooooooo!

    I knew there was a reason why the sun went dark and all hope died.

  6. I liked the Like a Prayer bit at the end, but then that’s always been my favorite Madonna song.