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MIA's middle finger row

All America is pretending to be scandalised by a rude gesture from rapper MIA during the Superbowl half-time show. MIA was a guest during Madonna’s creaky dance-routine to the new single Give Me All Your Luvin’. At one point the rapper raised a middle digit, for no obvious reason.

A worldwide audience of 150 million saw the gesture, although, given that they had tuned in to watch a football match, it’s doubtful if they would really be all that offended.

Nevertheless the authorities quickly went into damage-limitation mode. Christopher McCloskey, a spokesman for the broadcaster NBC said: "We apologise for the inappropriate gesture that aired during half time. It was a spontaneous gesture that our delay system caught late."

The NFL spokesman, Brian McCarthy, said: "The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing and we apologise to our fans." MIA had apparently been perfectly well-behaved in rehearsals.

The American pressure group, Parents’ Television Council mustered up some contrived outrage, accusing the NFL of booking "performers who have based their careers on shock, profanity and titillation. Either the NFL and NBC will take immediate steps to hold those accountable for this offensive material in front of 100 million Americans, or they will feebly sit back and do nothing."

MIA will either face a show trial in which her action will be compared with Janet Jackson’s infamous 2004 nipple flash, or, more likely, she will enjoy a boost to her record sales and welcome additional exposure in the USA.

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