MIA on stage at Super Bowl XLVI (Christopher Polk/Getty Images)So, who used whom in the Madonna/M.I.A. Super Bowl halftime controversy–per that already famous middle finger that M.I.A. offered tens of millions of viewers before the censors could get to it? Did Madonna encourage this insurrection from her guest rapper, so that she’d have some provocation in her otherwise family-friendly set without having to take the rap herself? Or was M.I.A. using Madonna and the Super Bowl to get attention for her own new video and forthcoming album? Or maybe just driven to atone, in her own outrageous way, for having sold out in agreeing to be Madonna’s celebrity cheerleader?
Whatever the motives, this is hardly the first time M.I.A. has gotten the public’s hackles up. Her status as a lightning rod for controversy was satirized just a couple of months ago on “Saturday Night Live,” when an actress parodying M.I.A. interrupted a spoof Christmas duet with Michael Buble by repeatedly firing a pistol in the air, mid-carol.
M.I.A. almost seemed to be satirizing her trigger-happy in her appearance in Madonna’s new video, “Give Me All Your Lovin’,” when she ended her guest rap by emulating a gun-firing movement with her hand, as the sound of a shot was heard in place of a censored S-word in her lyrics.
No doubt the NBC censors were expecting her to do the same miming during the live telecast, as she surely would have in rehearsals–only to have her replace the trigger finger with an emphatic upraised middle finger.