The big hype (around these parts, anyway) going into the Super Bowl on Sunday was what Madonna would do during her halftime performance . But, as you surely know by now, one of her guests, rapper/singer M.I.A., stole some of Madge’s thunder by unexpectedly flipping the bird at the end of “Give Me All Your Luvin’.”
While your granny was probably shocked and your little brother/sister got a naughty giggle out of it, M.I.A. wasn’t exactly reinventing the rebel wheel with her one-finger salute. Everyone from punk icon Iggy Pop to Oasis’ Noel Gallagher, Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain, late Wu-Tang Clan rapper ODB, Kid Rock and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong have made flipping people off a standard part of their eff-the-man personas over the years.
In fact, tossing up the middle-digit salute is a time-honored tradition for musicians that dates back more than 40 years to the original rock rebel.
Johnny Cash: In one of the most iconic pictures in music, the Man in Black famously gave an impassioned finger to the camera in 1969 during his San Quentin prison performance. It was later used in an ad in 1998 Billboard magazine to express his “thank you” to the Nashville country music industry after he won a Grammy for Best Country Album as a response to their abandonment of him in his later years.
Tupac : The late rap icon was fond of laying down both single and double birds in some of the most iconic pictures of him over the years, including one taken of him on a gurney after he’d just been shot at a New York recording studio in 1994.
Eminem: After being called out for some of his gay-bashing lyrics, Slim Shady made a huge statement by appearing with openly gay Elton John at the 2001 Grammys , where he hugged the piano-pounding icon and then gave the audience a view of both his middle digits.
Lady Gaga: Mother Monster can’t go anywhere these days without being hounded by the paparazzi. So, when Gaga attended a Mets game in 2010, she let the paps know how she felt when they caught her chilling in a private suite.
Justin Bieber: He may be a (young) man of faith, but even the Biebs has his limits. Last March, while out celebrating his 17th birthday , the “Baby” singer was accosted by photos, so he showed them his tall man … and then apologized later, saying, “I know better than to react in anger.”