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M.I.A. says Super Bowl middle finger was 'godly'

November 06, 2013|By Gerrick D. Kennedy
  • M.I.A. performs in celebration of her new album "Matangi" at Terminal 5 on Friday in New York City.
M.I.A. performs in celebration of her new album "Matangi" at… (Taylor Hill / Getty Images )

When M.I.A. flipped the bird during her Super Bowl performance last year alongside Madonna and Nicki Minaj, there was the typical water cooler outrage, which led the news cycle for a few days before some other pop star grabbed our attention.

But the battle between the politically charged Sri Lankan rapper and the NFL raged on as the two have been at odds. Earlier this year news broke that the conflict between M.I.A. and the league had gotten quite messy and now she’s finally speaking out about it. 

The league had been reportedly pursuing a $1.5-million fine and a public apology from M.I.A. ever since the incident (she also mouthed that she didn’t give a … during the performance), and the league claimed not only was she in breach of her performance contract but she had tarnished the “wholesome” image of the NFL.

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Her lawyer fired back, saying the league should instead be concered with “the weekly felonies committed by its stars, the bounties placed by coaches on opposing players, the homophobic and racist comments uttered by its players, the complete disregard for the health of players and the premature deaths that have resulted from same, and the raping of public entities ready to sacrifice public funds to attract teams.”

Nothing in M.I.A.’s DNA would lead you to believe she’s one for public apologies. And yeah, she’s not offering one.

In a recent interview with NPR, the electro-pop rapper she decribed the gesture as the “the Matangi mudra,” which she compared to a gang sign, she said.
“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 praying or whatever,” she said. “And you have different ones based on what you're meditating over. There's not a lot of them that are named after gods and goddesses, but the middle finger is specifically named Matangi — the Matangi mudra.

M.I.A. clarified she wasn’t giving America the middle finger by flashing the gesture and that in her country “it's godly.” She then said the league isn’t buying her explaination because “the NFL does not believe in any other culture outside of the NFL.”

We did a Google search for the Matangi mudra (which, coincidentally, shares a name with M.I.A.'s latest album), and the hand gesture appears to require the middle fingers of both hands to be pressed together. Her version looked a little more like our favorite gesture to flash toward bad drivers. We feel more godly already.


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