It's happened again. Much of America has got their knickers in a twist over the half-time performance at the Super Bowl, that hallowed 12-minute slot that introduced us to the term "wardrobe malfunction" back in 2004, after Janet Jackson's right nipple made a surprise cameo. And after tame contributions from the likes of Tom Petty and The Rolling Stones in recent years, on Sunday "controversy" returned to America's biggest sporting event when MIA, the English-born singer and rapper, "flipped the bird" at the camera during her guest spot in Madonna's medley.
While only the most prudish viewers must get upset over such a gesture, the NFL still issued an apology. (And I thought the most offensive part of the half-time show was the fact that dumb party-pop duo LMFAO were given the opportunity to perform for more than 100 million people.)
But surely organisers should have known what to expect from MIA? Very much an underground artist until she joined Jay-Z and Kanye West on stage at the 2009 Grammy Awards, the fact that she was nine months pregnant (and wearing a sheer dress) was enough to horrify plenty of Americans.
Well known for her political views (including support of the Tamil Tigers), her violent videos – from the ginger genocide featured in 2010's "Born Free" to the Middle Eastern women seen drag racing in new promo, "Bad Girls" – have ensured she is often accused of overstepping the mark. But giving the finger fails to make a point, or start a discussion, as much of her work has – it just riles a few people and achieves nothing but headlines.
Ultimately it is as empty a gesture as the "World Peace" sign on the floor at the end of the half-time show (yeah, that oughta do it, Madge).
Still, having successfully stolen all of the headlines from the Queen of Pop, the wrath of conservative America must be the least of MIA's problems.Reuse content