I promptly flipped the channel away from NBC at the conclusion of the "halftime report" that immediately preceded the "halftime show." I had no desire to watch that spectacle, preferring instead to focus on what adjustments the Giants needed to make for the second half. But the Internet is a wonderful thing, and by the time the Patriots punched the ball into the end zone four minutes into the third quarter, I'd already seen the stunt that MIA pulled, courtesy of Deadspin.
I'm interested to see what clothes will be rended by self-important grandstanders, both within and without the Federal Communications Commission. Notwithstanding what the Supreme Court decides in FCC v. Fox Television Stations, if the FCC doesn't come after NBC and its affiliates, it'll be a swell example of just how the laws change based on the party of the person with access to the red phone.
Personally, I was offended neither by the "wardrobe malfunction" at halftime of XXXVIII nor by what happened on Sunday night. That being the case, I submit that MIA's finger was actually worse than Janet's nipple. That judgment has everything to do with the intentionality of the act. Jackson and Timberlake may have been playing close to the boundary, but I accept their contention that they didn't intend to cross it. Justin simply grabbed one more layer of clothing that he was trying to. MIA, on the other hand, looked straight into the camera and extended her middle finger to it - and by extension, to the entire United States of America. She willfully concealed her intent to do so from both NBC and the NFL. Somebody advanced the proposition that MIA should be given a pass due to different standards of censorship in her native Britain. Absolutely not. How far in advance was that performance booked? It's simply incredulous that she wouldn't be aware of the prevailing norms.
But if this doesn't offend me, why is it getting me riled up? Because the nipple precedent lingers over Sunday night's gesture. I'm not referring to FCC fines...I'm talking about the course change the NFL made with its halftime shows after 2004. Take a look at who performed at Super Bowls XXXIX through XLIV. All older men, mostly white. Only last year did the halftime show take a turn back toward the modern era, with the Black Eyed Peas and Usher. I have to wonder if Don Mischer has taken a call from Roger Goodell within the last forty-eight hours. Hopefully the league office won't step back into that time machine. Assuming her star doesn't fade in the year to come, Adele could be a good compromise allowing the NFL to stay current and minimize the risk of something being unintentionally broadcast. I might even stay tuned in to see that halftime show.