NFL, NBC Apologize After M.I.A. Flips Bird During Super Bowl Halftime Show

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The NFL and NBC are apologizing for another Super Bowl halftime show.

There was no wardrobe malfunction, nothing like that glimpse of Janet Jackson’s nipple eight years ago that caused an uproar and a government scrutiny.

Instead, it was an extended middle finger from British singer M.I.A. during Sunday night’s performance of Madonna’s new single, “Give Me All Your Luvin.”’

In front of some 110 million viewers on NBC and uncounted others online, she flipped the bird and appeared to sing, “I don’t give a (expletive)” at one point, though it was hard to hear her clearly.

The NFL and NBC wasted little time in responding.

“The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing and we apologize to our fans,” said Brian McCarthy, spokesman for the NFL, which produced Madonna’s halftime show.

PHOTOS: Madonna’s Super Bowl Halftime Show

The risque moment came during the biggest TV event of the year. The screen briefly went blurred after M.I.A.’s gesture in what was a late attempt, by less than a second, to cut out the camera shot.

“The NFL hired the talent and produced the halftime show,” NBC spokesman Christopher McCloskey said. “Our system was late to obscure the inappropriate gesture and we apologize to our viewers.”

Jackson’s infamous oops during the 2004 halftime show raised a storm of controversy and put CBS in hot water with the Federal Communications Commission amid questions about the responsibility of TV networks to police their airwaves.

This year’s game is expected to challenge last year’s record of being the most-watched U.S. TV event ever.

After the incident, McCarthy said that M.I.A. had not done anything similar during rehearsals and the league had no reason to believe she would pull something like that during the actual show.

Madonna had admittedly been nervous about her performance, hoping to position herself as the queen of a new generation of pop stars with an opulent show and a sharp performance that mixed her new release with more familiar songs. She seemed like Roman royalty when muscle-bound men carried her extravagant throne across the football field to the stage for her opening song, “Vogue.”

Madonna carried gold pompons for a performance of her frothy new single. Twitter was alight with questions about the vocals being lip synched or augmented by tapes, particularly during this song.

Fans flooded the CBS New York Facebook page with comments about Madonna’s halftime show and  M.I.A.’s obscene gesture.

“Vulgarity, not what a fine lady would do…ugly,” commented Anna Farrenson.

“Very staged and stiff. I wanted to see Madonna have more fun, dance. Lip syncing SUCKS,” Pamela Jenssen commented.

“Think she was being very conservative with her outfit because of her age. Which is fine! Her lip syncing was too noticeable,” said Eva Donnadio.

“Well, to be honest…I am 75-years-old and think that I could have danced her first number,” said Ruth Conner-Wickum.

But not everyone agreed.

“She was awesome. Not I bad for 53-yrs-old. The youngsters today wish they had half the talent,” commented Lois Nielsen Melchiore.

It was great, best one I’ve seen in quite some time,” said Nicholas McElroy.

The performance was also carried live on SiriusXM Radio, giving Madonna the biggest single audience of her career. For all the elaborate choreography and flashy effects, the finger incident is the more likely headline from the event.

Earlier, Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert offered some pregame patriotism. Shelton and Lambert did a twangy duet on “America the Beautiful” and Clarkson, in a simple black dress, sang “The Star Spangled Banner” without a hitch after last year’s performer, Christina Aguilera, flubbed a line.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • crackho

    The one thing i refused to watch Sunday? The dimwitted half-time show. A bunch of tasteless, talentless, self-obsessed has-beens and wannabees. Sadly, so many noobs tuned in just for that and gives credence to this cultural dog feces.

  • Played a fool

    Maddona sucked. Poor performance UUGGHHH!!!

    • ..

      you sound like a girl

  • susan

    these commenst are as low class,no class as the singer who “flipped the finger”! what was the point, except to maybe prove she deserved more attention than madonna?? i suppose that is acceptable to the audience she usually has, but this was differnet..also, comparing madonna to betty white who is 90 years old is a bit much..i am not a fan but there are a lot of 25 year olds who are not in as good a shape as she is..

  • val

    I didn’t even see that part! (the finger) Big deal! She’s an idiot, whoever she is. She should be MIA and probably will be in about a year. As for Madonna, I think for a woman her age to be singing and dancing around like that is not as easy as some people think, so if she lip-synched, so what? It sounded good to me. I think she gave those 20-somethings a run for their money.

    • Hugh Bigdummy

      You tell em’ Valium, show us your fun bags.

  • i'm sorry, i'm not satisfied...

    …an apology is not enough to satisfy me. I sat down to watch an All American Football Game with my family and we ended up seeing some no talent performer giving all of the viewing public “the finger”. I’ve got a serious problem with this and something definitely needs to be done to make this right. I’m thinking, two seats on the NY Giants float tomorrow during the parade would be an excellent start to making things a little more right. whaddya say, NBC and NFL. make it happen!

    • hey stinky...

      …who you callin’ bozo? you must be gashool bunchkings peeps.

    • Jeff Sayin


      You watch an event that celebrates the largest men in our society trying to hit each other as hard as they can – watching violence does seem to be the All American family past time these day and you have your panties in a knot because someone raised their middle finger on TV – aghast!!

      I also note (with some amusement) that MIA also did a not so subtle crotch shot while dancers in the background performed dry humps to the audience just before the finger was raised, but again what is the news story here – a middle finger.

      Gotta love America!

  • Sy Lowphone

    Whatever happened to marching bands at halftime playing bad, out-of-tune arrangements of Stevie Wonder songs?

  • Amused but not misled

    Another nobody trying a short cut to being memorable


    what or who is MIA? that MIA can kiss my MIA (MY ITALIAN ASS)

    • DaEmph

      You probably smell like molded Cannolis!

      • AL DENTE

        To be honest, I smell like ripened parmesan with a hint of capicola.

  • Facts

    Nice classy move by a skank!!!

  • Derogatis

    I though Madonna put on a great show that allowed her to perform like Betty White in looking talented…in fact, Betty probably would have looked better. No move Madonna made couldn’t have been made by Betty and Betty can certainly lip sync. As for MIA, why don’t we all just skip half-time, that should cut out…what, maybe 5 or 6 commercials and then when the “hosting Network” and the NFL lost 20 or 30 million in revenue they will GET A CLUE and recognize there is always some other wannabe that is going to make a name for themselves by doing something shocking on live TV. How naive are you people?

  • Whiff M'Arss

    And the big deal is? Let he or she who has not flipped out the bone blow out the first fart.

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