It would seem that Madonna’s performance in the US Superbowl half time slot was both spectacular and controversial. Her set at the not particularly exotically named Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis included many of her biggest hits; “Vogue”, “Music”, “Open Your Heart“, “Express Yourself“, “Like a Prayer” and as expected her new single “Give Me all Your Luvin”. She arrived on stage in a chariot preceded by a whole legion of Roman Gladiators. To be fair Kylie has already done the chariot thing in concert.
Madge was joined at various times by Cee Lo Green, LMFAO, Nicki Minaj and of course MIA. That is where the apparent controversy has arisen. There was no Janet Jackson style wardrobe malfunction but simply a glimpse of MIA’s middle finger. Yes MIA flipped the bird on live TV. The reaction of the US press, who seemed to take great delight in pointing out that MIA, whose real name is Mathangi Arulpragasam, is British, would suggest that it was an international incident on a warlike scale. NBC apologised for her inappropriate and spontaneous behaviour.
In my opinion this is a great deal of fuss over nothing much a real storm in an espresso cup. It’s interesting (and thanks to Nick Horslen for reminding me of this) that whilst the broadcaster NBC didn’t like MIA’s middle finger they were quite happy to let Madonna perform a song with a not so hidden reference to fellatio; “Like A Prayer”. Patrick Leonard co-wrote the song with her Madgeness, claimed that at first he didn’t appreciate that the opening lines; ‘When you call my name, it’s like a little prayer, I’m down on my knees, I wanna take you there’ were effectively about oral sex. He asked Madonna to change the words but she refused. I wonder if she said ‘come on Patrick, let’s at least suck it and see!’ That quote from Leonard was included in J. Randy Taraborrelli‘s book Madonna: An Intimate Biography.
Incidentally did you know that the middle finger insult was first recorded nearly 2,500 years ago. According to the BBC a public intellectual, expressing his contempt for a gas-bag politician, reaches for a familiar gesture. He extends his middle finger and declares: “This is the great demagogue”.This allegedly took place in Fourth Century BC Athens, when the philosopher Diogenes told a group of visitors exactly what he thought about the orator Demosthenes. Read the full BBC explanation by clicking here. Apparently it is a very phallic gesture with the middle finger representing the penis and the curled fingers on each side the testicles. So it was mostly just bollocks then.
Anyway the thing has had the desired effect. Madge has oodles of free publicity for a show which she took no fee for. Her album sales will rocket and she has just announced a world tour to support the release of her new album in March. If you arrived here looking for something about the sport and not the spectacle of the Super Bowl I can tell you that the 2012 game was won 21 – 17 by the New York Giants who beat the New England Patriots.
And finally Madonna acts out the offending lines from “Like A Prayer”