Well, it’s not like we couldn’t see this one coming from a million miles away. Janet Jackson’s stray nipple was met, perhaps one-upped, by M.I.A. acting in typical M.I.A. fashion during the 2012 Super Bowl halftime show. American viewers witnessed the rapper flipping the bird, which deeply offended some people’s selectively wholesome sensibilities. Apologies from the NFL, NBC and M.I.A. were subsequently issued, and now there’s the possibility of M.I.A. paying up a fine to the FCC. Blah blah, our inflamed Puritan eyeballs, yes, yes, more blessed, offensive Super Bowl commercials instead, yes, and please pass the Doritos.
One critic, however, wasn’t as complacent about this series of events. The New Yorker‘s resident pop culture critic, Sasha Frere-Jones, had his own message to deliver to Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council, who had just published a statement of the PTC’s displeasure online.
Unless somebody was handing out Xanax with the foam fingers, Lucas Oil Stadium was ringing with the music of profanities last night. More to the point, television viewers were submitted to ad after ad that likened women—negatively—to sofas, cars, and candy. Mr. Winter didn’t have anything to say about that, so I’d like to raise both of my middle fingers to him and anyone who thinks profanity is somehow more harmful to our children than images of violence and misogyny. [New Yorker]
Frere-Jones defended M.I.A.’s artistic value as a provocateur, which okay, one can either agree or disagree with, but also pointed out the undeniable hypocrisy of Winter’s admonishment and some similar responses to the event. “I say we get out of The Pretending To Be Moral game altogether and use the Internet for important things like posting pictures of cats looking at croissants and PDFs of sensitive government documents,” Frere-Jones wrote.
Of course, on top of this, some offended New Yorker commenters responded to Frere-Jones’ use of the profane, creating a swirling vortex of meta-insult.
And then there was this bit of douchebaggery:
It just goes to show that even the New Yorker‘s internet commenters are not immune to the ugliest kind of trolling. Still, perhaps it was a New Yorker internet commenter who made the best point of all in this mess:
Perhaps it is weird that M.I.A.’s middle finger and the cycle of insult that followed is just as much a part of Super Bowl entertainment as the Super Bowl itself. But hey, who’s excited for next year’s mass affront? Middle fingers crossed for some mooning.