Super Bowl XLVI was a good football game, marred once again by the bohemian elite at NBC. NBC could have prevented, but failed to stop, the broadcast of a female rapper "flipping the bird" at 114 million viewers during Madonna's halftime show. It was another "fleeting expletive" of the hand-gesture variety, and somehow, despite elaborate rehearsals, no one at NBC could seem to stop it.
The same network skillfully edited God out of a clip of children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance during last year's U.S. Open golf tournament.
As usual, and just as CBS did with Janet Jackson, NBC tried to shift the blame in a statement, declaring that "the NFL hired the talent and produced" the show. As usual, the NFL statement stressed a "failure in NBC's delay system" and characterized the gesture as "completely inappropriate" and "very disappointing" and "obscene." (The Hollywood Reporter added the NFL apparently dropped out the "obscene" part under pressure from NBC, which doesn't want FCC attention for this prank witnessed by untold millions of children.)
The offender is a 36-year-old British rap "artist" who calls herself "M.I.A." -- which is easier to say than her real Sri Lankan name, Mathangi Arulpragasam. The next morning on NBC, "Today" host Kathie Lee Gifford spoke for most of America: "I'd never heard of her before, but that's not unusual for me."
That's exactly how rebellious rappers make names for themselves. While she was launching the obscene gesture, she was rapping, "I'm-a say this once, yeah I don't give a (S-word)." That's in the newly recorded Madonna song they were performing ("Give Me All Your Luvin'"), and it's also in the video. How does NBC not prepare for a bleep and a camera shift when it knows it's coming?
At 53, Madonna's a little old to pull this stunt herself. She promised the press beforehand there would be no "wardrobe malfunctions" -- and we were all relieved. There was an unmistakably musty grandma smell in her aging act, which she tried to overcome by bringing in female rappers M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj. They acted as her hired cheerleaders in her song, chanting "L.U.V. Madonna" in the background.