Superbowl XLVI is over and the National Football League champions for 2011 are the New York Giants who beat New England Patriots 21 -17. The game played on Sunday February 5th 2012 at Lucas Oil stadium in Indianapolis,Indiana was televised live by NBC.I was one of the estimated 110 million who watched it on TV.
Singer Madonna was expected to hog the limelight during the much looked forward to Superbowl half-time show.She did make a grand entrance being carried on a palanquin by gladiator –like bearer slaves. It was like a scene out of “Cleopatra” where Elizabeth Taylor playing the majestic Egyptian Queen entered Rome in similar fashion. With other singers also playing “subservient” cheerleader roles Madonna was projected as the Empress among songstresses.
Quite a bit of he thunder however was stolen from Madonna by the middle finger of M.I.A or Mathangi”Maya”Arulpragasam the British singer of Sri Lankan Tamil descent, if reactions in the western media are a measuring device to gauge its impact.All “MIA” (Missing In Action)did was to raise her middle finger in a seemingly spontaneous manner with lips mouthing an alleged expletive during Madonna’s performance of “give me all your luving”.A wag on twitter called it a middle finger malfunction!
”Flip the bird” is what they call the act of raising the middle finger as a rude,obscene gesture.Maya’s middle finger “uplift” and the ensuing blaze of negative publicity seems to have blacked out Madonna and um..um.., the superbowl!Talk about looking at the finger when someone points to the moon.But then it may be quite costly too cos she may be fined 542,000 dollars. But then the Bronfmans can afford it ,right?
MIA or Mathangi Arulpragasam known as “Maya” is a Rapper, vocalist, singer-songwriter, record producer, visual artist, activist, photographer, fashion designer, model. Her musical compositions are classified as being a combination of different elements from genres like alternative dance, electronic,world,hip hop,alternative rock etc.
She was born in Hounslow,London on July 18th 1975. Her father is Arulpragasam an engineer who was a founder member of the Eelam Revolutionary Organization of Students(EROS) which later evolved into the Eelam Revolutionary organization (EROS) He is called Arular and wrote the Tamil novel”Lanka Rani” based on the 1977 anti-Tamil violence. Her mother is Kala a housewife who became a seamstress.
Maya’s mother went back to Sri Lanka a few years after she was born while her father continued pursuing his political objectives. Mathangi experienced the escalation of the ethnic conflict as a child growing up in Jaffna.The bombing and shelling by the armed forces made a huge impression on her. In 1986 the mother returned to UK. Experiencing the reality and horror of war in the impressionable phase of childhood has shaped and formed MIA’s worldview to a great extent.
MIA has made three albums “Arular” (after her Father)”Kala” (after her mother) and “Maya” (herself). She’s also made a number of singles. Maya also filmed a short video”Born Free” that focuses on genocide. Her songs are politicized to a very great extent.
Maya blends her music with her politics – based on her experiences – very effectively. This naturally evokes controversy much of it hostile.
But as she told Carolyn E. Davis of MTV in April 2005, Maya feels that not talking about her experiences would disqualify her as an artist. On her experiencing the Sri Lankan reality she says “The other point I was making referencing the violence I had seen in Sri Lanka is, if we’re going to invest so much money in creating wars around the world, that’s quite a given thing. If you’ve seen somebody get shot and if you’ve seen a bomb go off, then you’ve given me total access to talk about it — because you’ve made that a part of my life. I didn’t ask for nobody to bomb my school, but if they did, I would have the right to talk about it. And if people are uncomfortable, then they should think twice before they go off and hit random buildings”.
I’ve been Maya’s fan for many years now not only for her music and song but also for her courageous politics in standing up for the underdog,her commitment and dedication to her people and their just cause and also for the nonchalant manner in which she defies convention and norms of the establishment.
I regard her album “Kala” as the best compilation of her work. I particularly like the percussion in the album and her use of the Tamil traditional “Urumi Melam” (a double –headed drum shaped like an hourglass) in that.
“Paper Planes”is my favourite song by MIA. There are sounds like the crackle of gunfire and tinkle of cash registers in the song’s chorus. This too incurred a lot of criticism but she explained it thus to “The Daily Beast” – “If you’re an immigrant you left somewhere and most of the time you fled a war. Gun sounds are a part of our culture as an everyday thing. If you’ve been exposed to gunfights and violence and bombs and war then I can use those sounds backing my thoughts, ya know? Look, I’ve been shot at so I’m quite comfortable with gunshot sounds. If you have a problem with it, go and talk to the people who were shooting at me.”
Asked about its relation to paper planes and the lyric she stated – “I fly like paper, get high like planes/ if you catch me at the border I got visas in my name/ if you come around here I make ‘em all day” — “We make our own visas. A paper plane is the visa itself.”
Maya told “Entertainment Weekly” that she felt that listeners could interpret the gunshots and cash register ringing in the song’s chorus in this way – “You can either apply it on a street level and go, oh, you’re talking about somebody robbing you and saying I’m going to take your money. But, really, it could be a much bigger idea: someone’s selling you guns and making money. Selling weapons and the companies that manufacture guns — that’s probably the biggest moneymaker in the world.
As I mentioned before I am MIA’s fan and I could go on and on about her but this piece is on her flipping the bird at the Superbowl in typical form. The act has generated a lot of media buzz.
pic via: twitter.com/MIAUniverse
I give you two samples or examples of this buzz.
Apologies from NFL, NBC after M.I.A. flips bird
By DAVID BAUDER
British hip-hop artist M.I.A.’s obscene gesture in the Super Bowl halftime show is prompting apologies from NBC and the NFL. But it isn’t immediately registering as a moment that viewers latched on to.
The digital video recorder maker Tivo said Monday that there wasn’t an appreciable bump in viewers who played back the moment where M.I.A. extended her middle finger during Madonna’s performance of “Give Me All Your Luvin'” on Sunday night’s show.
Tara Maitra of Tivo said the company would check to see if more people play back the moment on Monday after there was publicity about it. Tivo has 2 million customers in the U.S.
The NFL blamed NBC for being not quick enough to censor the gesture, while NBC noted that the NFL is responsible for the content of the halftime show.
There was no wardrobe malfunction, nothing like that glimpse of Janet Jackson’s nipple eight years ago that caused an uproar and government scrutiny. Instead, 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 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. He said that M.I.A. had not done anything similar during rehearsals and the league had no reason to believe she would pull something like that during the actual 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.”
Back in M.I.A.’s native Britain, the London Times noted Monday that while all eyes may have been on Madonna at halftime, “it was the extended middle finger of the British hip-hop star M.I.A. that caused the most controversy.” The Guardian wondered whether anyone would really be outraged.
“You’d be forgiven for not having a coronary over the fact M.I.A. gave Super Bowl viewers the finger during her halftime guest spot with Madonna,” the newspaper wrote in its music blog. “For most fans, it was probably more shocking to see M.I.A. performing a rehearsed dance routine than flipping the bird.”
On Monday morning, host Gretchen Carlson on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” urged M.I.A. to “get a life.” Culture vulture Perez Hilton tweeted: “Think she’ll ever be invited on live TV again?”
Jackson’s infamous oops during the 2004 halftime show raised a storm of controversy and put CBS in hot water with the Federal Communications Commission amid questions about the responsibility of TV networks to police their airwaves.
Justin Timberlake ripped off Jackson’s bustier, exposing her breast for nine-sixteenths of a second, a moment for which CBS was fined $550,000 by the FCC. The network challenged the fine and last fall, a federal appeals court ruled against the FCC despite an order from the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. The three-judge panel reviewed three decades of FCC rulings and concluded the agency was changing its policy, without warning, by fining CBS for fleeting nudity.
This year’s game, in which the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots 21-17, is expected to challenge last year’s record of being the most-watched U.S. TV event ever.
M.I.A. is best known for her 2007 hit “Paper Planes,” a Grammy nominee for record of the year that memorably features a sample of the Clash song, “Straight to Hell.” It was featured on the soundtrack to the movie “Slumdog Millionaire.”
Madonna had admittedly been nervous about her performance, hoping to position herself as the queen of a new generation of pop stars with an opulent show and a sharp performance that mixed her new release with more familiar songs. She seemed like Roman royalty when muscle-bound men carried her extravagant throne across the football field to the stage for her opening song, “Vogue.”
Guests Cee Lo, Nicki Minaj and dance rockers LMFAO also appeared with Madonna. The singing and dancing on “Vogue” was smartly choreographed, as Madonna moved more deliberately — she is 53 — but still adroitly. She briefly appeared to stumble at one point while trying to make a step on the stage set, but recovered in time.
She let a tightrope walker make the more acrobatic moves during a performance of “Music.”
Madonna carried gold pompons for a performance of her frothy new single. Twitter was alight with questions about the vocals being lip synched or augmented by tapes, particularly during this song.
The best guest was clearly Cee Lo, who joined Madonna for the final song, “Like a Prayer.” They were joined by a robed chorus in the show’s most soaring performance. With a puff of white smoke, Madonna disappeared down a trapdoor in the stage, and lights on the field spelled out “World Peace.”
The performance was also carried live on SiriusXM Radio, giving Madonna the biggest single audience of her career. For all the elaborate choreography and flashy effects, the finger incident is the more likely headline from the event.
Earlier, Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert offered some pregame patriotism. Shelton and Lambert did a twangy duet on “America the Beautiful” and Clarkson, in a simple black dress, sang “The Star Spangled Banner” without a hitch after last year’s performer, Christina Aguilera, flubbed a line.
And here is another from “stop the Presses”in omg! from Yahoo –
M.I.A.’s Raised Middle Finger Raises Question: Why The Provocation?
By Chris Willman
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.
MIA 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.
The motivations behind M.I.A.’s other controversial moments have usually (but not always) been clearer, given her political activism and outspokenness, often related to Sri Lankan concerns little understood in the United States.
Her videos for “Born Free” and “Sunshadows” have been blocked or censored at various points by MTV and YouTube, due to violent imagery that detractors dismiss as radical chic but fans take as pungent social commentary. She’s been praised and ridiculed for supporting the Tamii Tigers, a separatist movement that stands in violent opposition to the government of Sri Lanka, which M.I.A. believes to be guilty of attempted genocide.
Because of her support for groups considered by some to be terrorists, M.I.A. once found herself on a Homeland Security risk list, and she was temporarily denied a visa by the U.S., complicating her attempts to record and do live shows circa 2006.
Yet she’s hardly the poster girl for anti-Americanism when she’s married to a prominent New York scion, Ben Bronfman, son of Seagrams heir and music mogul Edgar Bronfman. A New York Times Magazine article in 2010 made hay out of the supposed discrepancies between M.I.A.’s political radicalism and apparent embracing of a comfortable lifestyle in capitalist America.
M.I.A. didn’t much care for the profile, and tweeted the journalist’s phone number to fans, as well as releasing her own transcripts of portions of the interview and a song excoriating the reporter. Those who follow M.I.A. on social media have also been the recipients of graphic photos of Sri Lanka’s alleged genocide, on top of the accounts of her allegedly being baited into ordering fancy food by the New York Times.
If nothing else, it’s been evident that M.I.A. takes her musical mission very seriously–which made the seemingly depthless move of appearing with pom-poms in the Madonna music video, and again at the Super Bowl, a deep, deep mystery.
With the middle finger, at least some of that puzzle may have been solved: M.I.A. is using the notoriety of her Madonna moment as a platform. Whether the statement she intends to make on her newly elevated stage is any more complex than the one implicit in a middle finger remains to be seen”
“Popwatch” on Entertainment weekly web is having an opinion poll. It says –“ We may never know why pharaoh bitch goddess M.I.A. gave us the middle finger while performing Madonna’s new single “Give Me All Your Luvin’” during the Super Bowl half-time show. It’s probably Gisele Bundchen’s fault. But we’ve got to get to the bottom of this. If you don’t agree with our educated guesses, tell us your own theories in the comments”.
When I voted on 6th afternoon the tally for the four options was this –
Got high like planes- 23.22%
‘Cause bad girls do it hard – 40.87%
Sri Lankan politics – 15.11%
She’s on Team Bridget Moynihan – 20.81%
“Pop and Hiss” the Los Angeles Times music blog had a post indicating that MIA had a rush of adrenaline and was contrite about what happened. This is what the LA Times said:
M.I.A.’s halftime gesture said to be ‘a case of adrenaline’
“In early 1989 Madonna was the center of controversy over the religious imagery in the video for her “Like A Prayer.” Twenty-two years later the song brought her Super Bowl halftime performance to an end with the all-together unifying message of “world peace,” and it was her collaborator M.I.A. who was suddenly finding herself in the center of a media fracas.
The politically inclined pop star, whose real name is Maya Arulpragasam, flashed the middle finger when cameras briefly focused on her during Madonna’s halftime show, inspiring apologetic statements from NBC and the NFL. “There was a failure in NBC’s delay system,” said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy in the league’s official statement. “The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing, and we apologize to our fans.”
M.I.A.’s publicists at Interscope could not be reached for comment. However, a member of M.I.A.’s camp, speaking Sunday night from the Super Bowl host city of Indianapolis, said M.I.A. was struck with “a case of adrenaline.”
“She wasn’t thinking,” said the source, who requested anonymity but was with the artist at Lucas Oil Stadium. “It wasn’t any kind of statement. She was caught in the moment and she’s incredibly sorry”
Madonna’s longtime publicist Liz Rosenberg could not be reached for comment. A spokesperson for NBC said, “The NFL hired the talent and produced the halftime show. Our system was late to obscure the inappropriate gesture and we apologize to our viewers.”
The “gesture” in question came during the performance of Madonna’s new single “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” in which M.I.A. and rapper Nicki Minaj donned cheerleader outfits and became members of Madonna’s dance team. Minaj and M.I.A. also appear in the official video for the song, with M.I.A. miming the firing of a gun — a self-referential nod to her Grammy-nominated, Clash-sampling, anti-consumerism hit “Paper Planes.”
The Super Bowl halftime show has been controversy-free since the infamous Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction of 2004. That moment instigated a seven-year back-and-forth between the FCC and CBS, with the network winning a November appellate-court ruling that declared the $500,000 FCC fine against the network invalid. “This case reflected a policy change and improperly imposed a penalty on CBS for violating a previously unannounced policy,” the court said.
Madonna and M.I.A. each have new works to promote and are new label-mates. Madonna’s “MDNA” will be first issued via Interscope when it’s released in late March. M.I.A., meanwhile, just released a war-referencing video for her new single “Bad Girls.” A release date for her forthcoming album has not yet been announced”.
MIA (oil on canvas 40″X30″), painted by Shan Sundaram
The story in LA Times inferring that MIA had apologised had a powerful response from Sasha Frere-Jones in “The New Yorker”. Sasha who had written an interview feature about MIA in “The New Yorker” seven years was sorry that Maya had apologised. Here is what she said:
M.I.A. Shouldn’t Have Apologized
Posted by Sasha Frere-Jones
The most important artist of the aughts played the Super Bowl last night. Maybe you saw it. In the middle of Madonna’s set, Maya Arulpragasam—professionally known as M.I.A.—performed her part in the new Madonna song, “Give Me All You Luvin’.” In the original video, she ends her kind of meh verse by saying “I’ma say this once—yeah, I don’t give a shit.” Also in the video, she makes the “finger gun” hand signal, synced to a gunshot that references her biggest hit, “Paper Planes.” Last night, she flipped America the bird, rather than a gun. Cue apologies and hand wringing.
As reported by Todd Martens and Patrick Kevin Day on the Los Angeles Times Web site, the NFL, NBC, and M.I.A. have all apologized. Tim Winter of the Parents Television Council, whose job is to get mad, got mad about this “offensive material.” So we have two subjects: the incident and the artist.
The outrage is tiresome and deeply hypocritical, in all the tiresome ways you’ve been tired out by before. M.I.A. was illustrating her line, acting out the attitude of the words: performing. Fine, it may not be legal to flip the bird on television, but that’s simply a remnant of the fifties we haven’t shaken. Unless somebody was handing out Xanax with the foam fingers, Lucas Oil Stadium was ringing with the music of profanities last night.
More to the point, television viewers were submitted to ad after ad that likened women—negatively—to sofas, cars, and candy. Mr. Winter didn’t have anything to say about that, so I’d like to raise both of my middle fingers to him and anyone who thinks profanity is somehow more harmful to our children than images of violence and misogyny. (My two sons, fourteen and eleven, thought the Fiat ad was corny, so I guess they will be safe without Mr. Winter’s intervention.) I say we get out of The Pretending To Be Moral game altogether and use the Internet for important things like posting pictures of cats looking at croissants and PDFs of sensitive government documents.
The artist, of course, is M.I.A. About seven years ago, I praised her for several things, including turning the noxious generalization of “world music” into an idea that represents life as it is lived, and affords huge aesthetic possibilities. She made two albums that received all the praise they deserved, and then a third album called “/\/\/\Y/\,” which received a deeply weird and negative review in Pitchfork (unless you think M.I.A. is here only to provide “bangers” and hasn’t already vaulted way past her “potential as a pop artist” many times) and, most damagingly, the worst profile ever written about a musician, in the New York Times Magazine. (The trend of letting people who know nothing about music profile musicians is as outdated as fretting about cursing. Quite rightly, nobody would ever let me profile an Al Qaeda member; somehow, though, pop music is such a culturally light topic that no background is needed to cover it)
Maya provokes, over and over, and if some of the provocations don’t entirely work, that hardly invalidates the ones that do. Her new single, “Bad Girls,” isn’t up to much, but director Roman Gavras makes it an uncanny combination of club swagger and rebel time-wasting in this video, a bit like a Syrian version of “Two-Lane Blacktop.” On the other side of the scale, Gavras and M.I.A. teamed up for the “Born Free” video, which was banned by YouTube (your go-to source for family-friendly material). Unless you’re living somewhere very unusual, the sight of white people being rounded up and shot is genuinely unsettling and not trivial, not when the U.S. is expanding its ability to detain people indefinitely and innocent people have been detained and tortured at Guantánamo Bay. Remind me why we’re talking about a middle finger again? I’m just sorry Maya apologized
So it looks like the Super Bowl half-time controversy featuring Maya Arulpragasam will continue for quite a while. As for now let me end this saga of MIA’s middle finger “malfunction” or else face perhaps a thousand raised middlefingers plus profanity uttering tongues ! – DBSJ