First of all, I didn’t learn who M.I.A. was until last night when I saw the halftime show. Since I don’t know much about British music, she was a new face for me. And that was not a very strong impression she gave me and the rest of America.
We all know that she gave the middle finger during the show and the NFL is blaming NBC while NBC is returning the blame. Ultimately, the problem lies within the actual fabric of our censored American culture.
Because of our culture’s censorship ways, the airwaves had to prevent and protect the public from any kind of profanity, nudity. And to be fair, that’s the way it should be. After Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction, the delay time from live to TV had to be extended to seven seconds.
What made last night’s show tough was that the song they were performing had profanity. In the lyrics, M.I.A.’s part features the word “sh-t” twice. But since she was on TV, she had to censor that. She just said “sh” but in an attempt to still emphasize the lyric, she resorted to the middle finger. We still know what she wanted to say.
Who really thought that that couldn’t be a potential issue?
It had to be a lapse of judgment on her part. She was probably so used to singing that without censorship that she wanted to somehow portray that image. Thus the finger came out.
But why would the NFL hire an artist with a background of profanity to perform at the Super Bowl?
Here’s my issue with the entire thing. The NFL has tried real hard to prevent current artists from performing at the Super Bowl because they are risky. The NFL ran the risk with Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake knowing that there was a good chance that something could go wrong. The same thing happened last night with Madonna, Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. Going into that show, the NFL knew they were running a risk in having those three perform — because a likelihood of them doing something bad was higher than let’s say The Who or Tom Petty.
Current artists who openly use sexual lyrics, profanity or even wild music videos want to portray that image when they perform in front of the world. What artist wants to censor themselves when performing for a huge audience?
That’s what happened with M.I.A. When she was told to clean up her singing, her natural reaction was to still act her true self, find a way around it and she ended up giving us the finger.
The NFL is to blame for hiring her. NBC is to blame for not censoring it. M.I.A. is to blame for being foolish.
If the NFL is going to move forward with halftime shows, they need to revert back to artists that don’t run the risk of doing something bad. After Janet Jackson’s malfunction, the NFL went into classic rock mode with Paul McCartney, Prince, Rolling Stones, The Who, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen. All of them had great track records of doing good, safe shows. They were all about the music, not the flashy show.
But when they had Jackson, Timberlake, Black Eyed Peas and last night’s show, they all ended up being very bad performances because it wasn’t about the music, but instead more about the flashy show. That’s what they are all really known for. Current artists these days have so much freedom in what they can do that it’s a huge risk to keep them censored for the halftime show.
Unfortunately, this might hurt any current artist from ever doing a halftime show for some time. An artist like Lady Gaga would be a great choice for the halftime show next year because of her huge worldwide following. But knowing who she is, the NFL would not be comfortable letting her perform.
I expect the NFL to return back to artists that have a strong track record of being reliable performers. Artists like The Eagles and Green Day are two that could take next year’s spot. They could even bring back Prince.
They need to stick with artists that don’t run the risk of causing any issues. That’s the only way they can go about it from this point on. It’s not an easy choice, but it’s the right choice. It needs to be more about talent, less about flash.
If they do bring back current artists, all of them should take notes and learn a thing or two about the best halftime show ever.