M.I.A. Super Bowl Middle Finger Prompts NBC, NFL Apology

'We apologize for the inappropriate gesture that aired during halftime,' an NBC spokesperson said about M.I.A.'s middle finger during halftime.

Madonna has built a nearly 30-year career on her ability to shock and surprise, especially during awards shows and live TV appearances. And though her glittery, high-energy halftime extravaganza at Sunday’s Super Bowl drew praise from the likes of Ashton Kutcher, Christina Aguilera and Perez Hilton, it was a slip of the finger, and the tongue, by one of her guests that grabbed headlines.

During a performance of Madonna’s new single, “Give Me All Your Luvin’, “ singer M.I.A. topped her guest rap with a defiant flip of the middle finger and a not-safe-for-prime time s-bomb lyric .


NBC’s censors were not fast enough to obscure the gesture, or completely blot out the expletive, and following the game the network issued an apology for the incident. “We apologize for the inappropriate gesture that aired during halftime,” a spokesperson said. “It was a spontaneous gesture that our delay system caught late.”

The NFL — which hires the performers and produces the halftime show — pointed the finger directly at NBC. “There was a failure in NBC’s delay system,” the league said in a statement. “The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing, and we apologize to our fans.”

According to Deadline Hollywood, M.I.A. kept things clean during rehearsals, but clearly got excited during the performance.

M.I.A. is no stranger to controversy. After the New York Times magazine wrote a lengthy feature on the singer (born Mathangi Arulpragasam) in 2010, she lashed out 
 at the writer over some unflattering descriptions via music. In addition to posting the writer’s phone number on Twitter, M.I.A. lambasted journalist Lynn Hirschberg in public, threatened to release the unedited tapes of the interview and, finally, issued a dis track, “I’m a Singer,” 
 in retaliation.

She was also denied a travel visa in 2005 by the U.S. government and appeared on a U.S. Homeland security risk list in 2006 as a result of her controversial political lyrics.

What did you think of M.I.A.’s halftime gesture? Were you offended? Let us know in comments below.

Often guilty, never convicted. Serving 15 years to life at MTV News.