M I A Superbowl
Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Hey, remember Nicki Minaj’s performance with Madonna at the Super Bowl last night? It was pretty good — great, even.

Of course, no one wants to talk about that, thanks to M.I.A. So congrats, Maya! And since she wants us to, let’s talk about it.

M.I.A.’s decision to flip the bird during her short time in the Super Bowl spotlight was a lot of things. It was juvenile, and maybe even bratty. It was a lazy bit of shock imagery from the woman who gave the Grammys a very pregnant, very awesome, middle-finger-free performance back in 2009. And it was, according to some sources, “a case of adrenaline.”

It was also the game’s biggest fumble: The singer was riding a steady stream of positive buzz from both her performance in the “Gimme All Your Luvin'” video and her own “Bad Girls” video, which was released the same day and is, at least to this viewer, a better, more inventive clip.

M.I.A. has already proven to us that she can put on an engrossing show without resorting to cheap tricks.

What makes it cheaper is that, all things considered, it wasn’t all that offensive. Which, of course, is the most cunning thing about it. It’s just rebellious enough to color her I’m-at-the-Super-Bowl-ness with a hearty dash of whatever-I’m-still-a-punk-ness, but not offensive enough to actually rock anyone’s moral sensibilities. Really, most people were more alarmed by the ensuing yellow blur than by M.I.A.’s finger-flash.

So, no, it wasn’t really that rude to us viewers. But it was pretty rude to Madonna. It was, after all, Madge’s halftime show. Who was M.I.A. to snatch the headlines by turning her less-than-a-minute with the mic into a postgame conversational centerpiece?

Hopefully, for the sake of her fans (this one included), M.I.A. will get back to winning attention the way she used to: making awesome, head-spinning, genre-spanning music.

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