Rapper MIA Makes Up New Excuse for Super Bowl Middle Finger Salute

In the halftime of Super Bowl 51 in 2012, the rapper M.I.A. "flipped the bird" at 114 million viewers. NBC failed to prevent it. But now that she has a new album out, M.I.A. claimed to NPR's David Greene on Tuesday's Morning Edition that this wasn't san attempt at televised profanity.

Instead, it was what she called a "Matangi mudra," a yoga hand gesture. Not even NPR was buying it:

GREENE: I want to ask you about one thing in this song, "Boom Skit," about the Super Bowl halftime show in 2012, which some of us remember, you performed. This was a huge audience, an American audience, and on camera you gave us all the middle-finger. Why did you do that?

M.I.A.: It's the Matangi mudra.

GREENE: What is that? Why does that explain it?

M.I.A.: Well, you know gang signs. You have in America you have gang signs. Well, 5,000 years ago, there was thing called a mudra, which is your sitting position when you do yoga or you're meditating or you're praying or whatever. And there's not a lot of them that are named after gods and goddesses, but the middle-finger is specifically named the Matangi mudra.

GREENE: So you were not giving America the middle finger? This was the Matangi symbol?

M.I.A.: Yes. Do you like that? (LAUGHTER) It's good, isn't it?

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: Something tells me....that there might have been another meaning in that.

M.I.A.: It's cultural. In my country, it's godly. OK?

GREENE: Now, is the NFL believing that? I know they're suing you for like one and a half million dollars.

M.I.A.: Of course the NFL is not believing that, because the NFL does not believe in any other culture outside of the NFL.

GREENE: Should I believe you or are you winking in the studio there in New York?

M.I.A.: But it's true; you can Wikipedia it. You could just say Matangi and then mudra, and you'll see it's the middle finger.

GREENE: A lot of people describe you as provocative.

M.I.A.: Yes.

GREENE: Is that a fair label?

M.I.A.: I don't know. I don't intentionally go: Ooh, what is provocative, and try to do that. I just do stuff and people go: Ooh, that's provocative. But I think maybe because sometimes I'm super-ignorant, and sometimes they're super-ignorant.

GREENE: M.I.A., this has been a real pleasure. We thank you for the time.

M.I.A.: Thank you. Thanks for having me, Mr. Greene.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis