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British rapper M.I.A. has been criticised by a parental advocacy group after she made a gesture with her middle finger during a live broadcast of the Superbowl last Sunday.
M.I.A., the stage name of Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, was in the middle of performing alongside Nicki Minaj and Madonna during the globally-televised sports event’s half-time show when the incident occurred. During the track ‘Give Me All Your Luvin”, M.I.A. raised her middle finger, however, her finger was not blurred out by broadcaster NBC due to the fact that it “occurred too quickly for its technical system to catch“.
Still, the Parents Television Council (PTC) has publicly criticised both NBC and M.I.A. for this event taking place in the first place. The organisation’s President, Tim Winter, had the following to say:
NBC fumbled and the NFL lied because a performer known as M.I.A. felt it necessary to flip off millions of families. It is unfortunate that a spectacular sporting event was overshadowed once again by broadcasting the selfish acts of a desperate performer … They chose a lineup full of performers who have based their careers on shock, profanity and titillation. Instead of preventing indecent material, they enabled it. M.I.A. used a middle finger shamelessly to bring controversial attention to herself, while effectively telling an audience filled with children, ‘F– you.’”
The PTC made further accusations toward the organisers’ culpability in this event, noting that as recently as last week the PTC had been informed that making the Super Bowl’s half-time show ‘appropriate’ would be a priority. The PTC concluded their statement on the matter by insisting:
The mechanism NBC had in place to catch this type of material completely failed, and the network cannot say it was caught off guard…
Their closing comment alludes to a well-publicised incident at the 2004 Super Bowl half-time show in which singer Janet Jackson’s breast was briefly exposed during an onstage performance with Justin Timberlake. CBS, the broadcaster of the Super Bowl that year, received a $550,000 fine from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and resulted in a significant increase in the number of complaints and fines received and issued, respectively, by the FCC.
The 2004 Super Bowl had an estimated 87.79 million viewers in the United States alone, while this year’s event was broadcast is said to have garnered 111.3 million viewers – making it the most-watched television show in U.S. history. As a result, M.I.A.’s gesture has the potential to incite an even greater public outcry, especially in light of the revelation that during the Super Bowl, a record-breaking 12,333 tweets per second were sent out about the event.