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Artist MIA’s obscene gesture during the halftime performance of Super Bowl XLVI raises questions of intended terrorism.
There have been Janet’s boobs, Rosanne Barr’s desecration of the national anthem and a finger belonging to vocalist MIA that have upset the American public. MIA, born Maya Arulpragasam, looked into the camera and gave the middle finger during Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime performance Feb. 5.
The gesture sent outrage and discomfort through enough of the 111.3 million viewers tuned in that night to issue dual press statements from NBC and the NFL. “The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing, and we apologize to our fans,” they said.
Madonna weighed in on the ill-fated salute saying, “It’s such a teenager, irrelevant thing to do…. What was the point? It was just out of place.”
She may have a point here, but apparently a portion of the viewers that evening believed her gesture was a direct attack on America, considering her self-described label as a supporter of terrorism and her affiliation with the Sri Lankan militant group, Tamil Tigers.
While Madonna stuck to sex and sacrilege for her headlines, MIA is compelled by a violent separatist movement and the politics of resistance, although she lives a lifetime away in a plush home in Los Angeles. Her allegiances have fueled her music and rhetoric, and no defense she gives indicates that she wants it any other way.
MIA’s affinity for the provocative has been her claim to fame since she went into labor while on stage during the 2009 Grammys with the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West, T.I. and Lil Wayne present, but insisted on finishing the show and then proceeded to beg for attention for her actions.
In junior psychology and sociology double major Marisa Fannin’s mind, her most recent ploy for attention is basic marketing.
“It’s obvious that sufficient buzz hadn’t been stirred up,” she said. “They needed something to talk about, and MIA provided them with just that.”
Fannin didn’t witness the salute, but in the weeks since it aired, she has grown weary of the buzz.
“There are so many other good things going on right now that I didn’t even notice this, and that’s exactly how the situation needs to be handled.”
She has a point. Who, among the minimum wage, one-car, working class Americans without the luxury of a private jet, really cares? What’s one more middle finger in the midst of another performance that cost more than the income of 10 of the families watching the spectacle?
In a society when the three most important things in life are what you’re wearing, who you know and what they think of you, it’s easy to imagine getting offended over something as miniscule as a juvenile gesture from a woman who was unhappy about being dressed up as a cheerleader.
Madonna was once a shock-rocker, and now she’s headlining the halftime performance during the most watched television event in American history. This culture eats it up. The media is all over it. It’s exactly what MIA wanted to happen, and that’s exactly what she got. Her immature actions should not reward her with such satisfaction.
Unity holds no allure for MIA — she thrives on conflict, real or imagined and had this to say regarding accusations and worries of her fans.
“I kind of want to be an outsider,” she said, “I don’t want to make the same music and talk about the same things. If that makes me a terrorist, then I’m a terrorist.”
Well, that’s comforting.