Super Bowl XLVI or how Madonna went M.I.A.

Super Bowl XLVI – kinda the same procedure as every year and this time really none of the teams present incited my fandom (as my friend Erin said: “Who would you root for when the Red Sox are playing the Yankees?” I suppose you try to go with the lesser evil here). So yeah rather an unexciting game, but at least a close one! But why do Critical Media scholars watch the Super Bowl anyway? Of course, because we love to analytically dissect those commercials and half time shows, duhh!

And who did we have the pleasure of seeing?! The queen of pop herself – Madonna honored us with a rather extravagant halftime performance. But good lord, was it boring! Now I didn’t quite get the Roman/ Gladiator/Spartan stage setting in the beginning (although there sure was some eye-candy provided with these hypermuscular bodies) when Ms. Ciccone made her entrance carried on some sort of throne performing her all-time classic “Vogue.”

Musically, she provided a nice overview of her oeuvre: her song “music” was accompanied by a crazy-ass tightrope walker performing all kinds of stunts, before she danced with LMFAO to “Party Rock.” Then it was time for the presentation of her new single “Give Me All Your Luvin” with a much anticipated girl power performance accompanied by Nikki Minaj and M.I.A.


And while the song does not really personally get me too amped up, the most exciting thing of the evening might have been M.I.A.’s slight “finger malfunction” that was not caught by NBC’s delay system which has been in place ever since the infamous Nipple-Gate of 2004 involving Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake (those were still the fun days!). Lastly, and probably most captivating was the performance of “Like a Prayer” with a huge choir and Cee Lo Green.


After 12 minutes, it was clear to me that this was one of the safest, moderate, and yes really unexciting Madonna performances I have witnessed. What happened to the days of cross controversy or “Like a Virgin”? Everything was sung in full play-back mode and Ms. Ciccone seemed a bit insecure during some of those dance-moves, but hey she’s 53 – take that youngin’s – so overall a very kid-friendly performance, very much what the NFL wants to see. NPR’s Linda Holmes takes a slightly different take on this: “What it takes to Last”

And here is where I’d briefly like to consider a few “political economy” aspects of this incredible Super Bowl staging: first, for Madonna this performance is part of a massive, cross-promotional marketing scheme to push her new album MDNA set for release at the end of March; second, some of you might have noticed that NBC’s “The Voice” second season premiere was set right after the game, and go figure but Cee Lo is probably the most popular judge on the show.

Third, concerning the “finger malfunction” in which the screen briefly went blurred in a late attempt to cut out the camera shot. Does the Federal Communication Commission really believe that it needs to “protect” viewers at home from endangering content? To me it seems utterly ridiculous that a NBC spokesperson had to apologize saying that “The NFL hired the talent and produced the halftime show. Our system was late to obscure the inappropriate gesture and we apologize to our viewers.” A spokesman for the NFL, Brian McCarthy was quick to state that “The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing, and we apologize to our fans.”

Lastly, did you guys see the “world peace” letters at the very end? All I could really think of is … wtf and please pardon my language. Where did that come from? After all, the NFL is one of the military’s main staple to increase an ever expanding culture of militarism with extensive patriotic displays of flag waving, honorary ceremonies for active duty personnel and so on … and they really want to promote world peace? Come’on now … this rather reminded me of the typical beauty pageant question regarding World Peace.

I will definitely come back to this at some point in more detail to talk about some of my research on the NFL’s extensive 9/11 commemorations … but for now enough thoughts on the Super Bowl – peace out!

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1 Comment

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One response to “Super Bowl XLVI or how Madonna went M.I.A.

  1. I think Niki and MIA are way to fierce for this kind of b.s. performance. Would be interested in THAT political economy, i.e., are they on her label?

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