BORDERLINE Depressing – Madonna, M.I.A. & the Super Bowl Debacle
Like over 100-million other Americans, I spent this Superbowl Sunday planted in front of a television screen like a goon. Whether it was because I’m a superfan that gets really fucking amped about over-the-top musical productions by aging over-hyped performers or because I’m really just into talking shit during inevitable trainwrecks, I still have to admit that I bothered to sit through the excruciating annual disaster known as the half-time show and any justifications as to my reasoning for doing so, doesn’t really let me off of the hook. While watching this filth live, I caught a bunch of shit that people around me didn’t happen to see, for whatever reason. Plenty of others did and, by now, the internet is flooded with articles and coverage of the bullshit that I’m about to write about here and now, but that’s not really my concern. That’s everyone else’s angle and their perspectives. Most of the time I really don’t feel like wasting my time talking about this type of junk or getting swept up into the whirlwind of TMZ topics like the Superbowl and Madonna or Justin Beiber skateboarding with his shirt off, etc. This time, however, it appears that I’m weak folks. I’m weak, and I can’t help myself. The following is my breakdown of a performance that already managed to break down much more painfully on it’s own. If I can spew all of my rants like this in one load at the beginning of the year, maybe I can get back to writing about things that are slightly more important throughout the rest of it. Probably not. There’s gonna be a lot to address here, so I’ll try to stay as focused and on point as possible…
THE “Give Me All Your Luvin” VIDEO:
Towards the end of last week (Feb. 2) Madonna released her latest video, an amateurish tween-level pop song titled “Give Me All of Your Luvin“. The track features formerly “underground” UK-based, Sri Lankan indie-World- electro-hop(?) artist, Maya “M.I.A.“ Arulpragasam and Lady Gaga‘s black hip-hop counterpart, Nicki Minaj. The video begins with the image of a brick wall and some text flashing across it with the lines, “Fans can make you famous, a contract can make you rich, the press can make you a superstar, but only luv can make you a player?“ What that means, I’m not entirely sure. My guess is that it doesn’t really mean anything, but it sounds good and meaningful enough to the only idiots that are gonna embrace her at this point in her career. The wall and text, however, look almost like a throwback to the film Dick Tracy that Ms. Ciccone starred in back in
her the 90s. From there we see M.I.A. (dressed in a letterman jacket) and Minaj (rocking a bustier that features the product placement of 2 Adidas Trifoils cupping her rack) as cheerleaders chanting the phrase “‘L-U-V’ Madonna! ‘Y-O-U’ You wanna!“ Both are wearing skirts and carrying pom-poms. So now, a mere 20 seconds into this vile piece, it’s already been established that Madonna desperately wants to be loved and that she’s recruited two arguably more relevant performers to literally, lead a cheer to convince viewers that they should “wanna” to do just that. Although it would otherwise seem out of place, the football theme helps to push her Super Bowl appearance that would debut just 3 days later. She’s clearly not concerned with creating videos for the purpose of longevity anymore.
Then, of course, a ton of other wack shit happens… Madonna comes out in a trench coat and sunglasses, acting incognito like she’s avoiding the paparazzi. She’s pushing a baby carriage (she will later be breastfeeding the doll inside). It flashes to her wearing a tight black outfit with a giant cross around her neck and her ass-meat hanging out of her hot pants, while dancing and pressing up against a brick wall, as a prison spotlight shines on her. Although the outfit appears to show off her mid-riff and accentuate what “great” shape she’s in, it’s a failed illusion. The waist band is actually set incredibly high up, so as to only truly expose the area around her rib cage. The cutbacks to her in the trench coast unfold into a reenactment of the same choreography performed in the “Material Girl” video 27 years ago (Nicki Minaj was barely 2yrs old), which, in itself, was already a mimicry of the iconic Marilyn Monroe performance of “Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend” from the 1953 film, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Madonna wouldn’t be born until 5 years later). This time, the men surrounding her and lifting her up are nondescript football players in full gear. She subtly drops further references to back when she was relevant, by slipping terms like “lucky star” into her lyrical content. Everything about this video is tired and recycled, which makes the Groundhog Day release date even more appropriate. She floats atop a river of the uniformed athletes, through a doorway and into a room where she has transitioned into a classic white-lace Madonna get up, complete with short blonde Marilyn Monroe coiffe. Her face is now noticeably “younger” and appears to have been digitally altered Beowulf-style to appear so. She is flanked on either side by Minaj or M.I.A. Each of them are sporting a similar wig and a complementary white ensemble of their own.
Nicki Minaj does her incredibly brief and uninspired rap first. She makes a reference to her alter-ego “Roman“, who she claims is some gay man that “lives inside” of her. It also apparently, makes her a quirky artist instead and just some juvenile plea for creative acknowledgement like when my little brother was 6yrs old and would only respond if you’d call him something like “Max” or “Maverick,” depending on what kick he was on at the time. It’s my understanding that she has another “alter-ego” that she employs who speaks in a bad British accent, not unlike the 53 year old woman who’s track she’s appearing on. Next, it’s M.I.A.’s turn. The U.K. artist genuinely has an accent (a real one!). She get’s a split second to do a quick verse herself and it’s almost equally as unimpressive as the one before it. She’s got a smug look on her face and ends with the line, “I’m-a say this once. Yeah, I don’t give a shit.” She makes a pistol motion with her hand as the sound of a gunshot fires off in the song. If this is supposed to be a nod of her own to how she’s anarchic/anti-corporate, uninterested in fame as a media whore, a “true artist,” is “dangerous”, or any combination there-in, it doesn’t work and, if anything, it comes across as her protesting a bit much.
You can watch this terrible fucked up mess of a video right here, if you have the stomach for it.
Regardless of how you slice it, both Minaj and M.I.A. have accepted roles as Madonna super fans in this video. At best, they get to be part of the entourage or members of a dangerous brown infantry. The football players are shaming themselves and throwing their bodies in front of bullets for Madonna and, as cheerleaders (not even a fucking metaphor) these featured rappers definitely don’t come across as anything above that. Ciccone‘s looking like a star that burned out a long time ago and it’s their job to simply sign their own young fans over to her. This is the biggest step towards purchasing ethnic folks in support of her own dying image/celeb-cred since Madonna fought through the rejected adoption of a Malawian child, whom she heroically renamed “Mercy” as a pat on her own back and a reference to her own gracious image as… well, the madonna. The ridiculous part is that, every time the aging starlet makes out with a Britney Spears or shackles herself to a younger star, there’s a PR attempt to make it appear as if she’s reaching down from the heavens to pull them up, support their careers, and help break them into the spotlight. The reality is that she’s not dealing with “nobodies,” these are people with established careers and fanbases of their own. In reality, Madonna‘s actually trying to prop her frail geriatric ass up on their shoulders like forearm crutches. It doesn’t help Madge‘s indie cred to recruit M.I.A. for a bit part in such a travesty, it only hurts Arulpragasam‘s. Nicki Minaj is just some mainstream wingnut trying to feign creativity, ala Lady Gaga, and is an easily dismissed element of this whole fiasco anyway. For someone that fancies themselves as a standout artist who’s incredibly “controversial” she seems pretty diluted (deluded) throughout this entire collaboration.
Here is some genuine exclusive live footage that we came across which demonstrates how Madonna has attempted to sustain her own relevancy by draining the life-force out of others. In fact, the video suggests that she’s been targeting young artists like Drew Barrymore, as far back as the 1980s!
The first time that I attempted to see M.I.A. live it was at the small Seattle club/venue, Chop Suey, but the show was cancelled due to VISA issues preventing Arulpragasam from entering the country. She’s long been associated with this persona of a politically unstable anarchist with potential terrorist connections due to her fathers involvement within the Tamil militant group known as The Eelam Revolutionary Organisation of Students, which forced him to remain in hiding from the Sri Lankan military and estranged from his family for much of her upbringing. EROS is said to have ties to the Palestine Liberation Organization and splinter groups were also involved in such activity as bombings and the kidnapping of a reporter. Later that year (2005), I was able to catch Maya as the opening act for LCD Soundsystem, at the somewhat larger local venue The Showbox. Both LCD and M.I.A. had just released their first full-length albums, with Maya‘s being titled “Arular” after the name that her father adopted as a political activist. The show was great and one of the rare occasions where I was actually able to see some movement in a Seattle crowd at the time. When her sophomore album Kala (named for her mother) was released in 2007, I went to a tiny CD release/album listening party at a bar called the Nectar Lounge by my home in Fremont. I drank a pitcher of beer by myself and was one of only a handful of people that were in attendance. I took a bunch of free promotional merch like bandanas, stickers, T-shirts, and a Fader mag, because they had so much extra shit. Then I turned around and used the swag for one of our first contests. I remember reading the interview in the magazine and her claims about how, although she was living in the UK, she still had a place in NY with a bunch of tracks that she had created. She went on to state that she had to come up with a bunch of new music for the album and record in different countries around the globe because, due to issues with the U.S. govt., she was unable to come into the U.S. to retrieve those works-in progress-whenever she needed to. At least, that’s a rough version of something that I remember. Her image was still pretty thugged-out and rugged. Nobody around me seem to give a fuck about the new release. I could never get into it as much as her debut and was already wondering if the hype for her was going to die back then.
In reality, Kala did remarkably well and, in February of 2008, it’s biggest single “Paper Planes” was released, along with an EP of the same name. The track blew up; it was featured on the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack, The Pineapple Express trailer, nominated for a Grammy, she was nominated for an Oscar, and the song was even sampled on a track called “Swagger Like Us” by Jay-Z and T.I., (feat. Kanye West & Lil Wayne). I missed the hype, only catching the Built to Spill cover. Being ignorant to the widespread growth and popularity of the track and it’s creator, I was more than surprised when a 9month-pregnant M.I.A. took the stage to perform with Jay-Z, T.I., Kanye, and Wayne at the 2009 Grammys, on the exact same day of her baby’s expected due date. It was a full 2 years after the first single from Kala was even released. This was the point where I first discovered that she had officially moved from the status of some underground indie performer to mainstream recognition. Still, Arulpragasam continued to be involved in charities, activism, and pushing for global rights; even headlining a tour that she titled “People vs Money.” That being said, her baby’s dad, Ben Bronfman, is a billionaire whose own dad is the former ceo of Warner Music Group. At the same time, however, he has worked to create progressive environmental methods to do such things as reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As an outsider that quit paying attention, her focus, dedication, and public persona can often seemed conflicted and confusing, at best.
When 2010‘s Maya dropped, it did so with an incredibly raw single and an even more hardcore video. “Born Free” was a driving track that was aggressive as all get-out, and it featured a sample of “Ghost Rider” by electronic proto-punk pioneers, Suicide. The song’s video was crafted into a 9-minute film portraying the genocide of red-heads, who were militarily detained, transported on a bus, and then forced to run through a mine field at gunpoint. It was graphic. It was intense. A kid was shot through the head. Another one ended off the video by exploding into pieces. It was a bold and potent response in protest to recent military killings of Tamil men by the Sri Lankan army. This was not mainstream and this was not MTV material. We posted about it the morning of it’s release, but quickly had to search out a new video source once it was removed and banned from Youtube. M.I.A. seemed to be reestablishing herself as something closer to her grimier roots than the media darling she temporarily appeared as. The album itself was met with mixed reviews. With production work by dubstep artist RUSKO added in with the cast of usual suspects like Diplo and Switch, there was plenty of heavy low-end bass drops, cold machinistic structures, and a stark post-apocalyptic feel mixed in with some noticeable pop elements. I probably gave the album more of a chance than most, finding a real appreciation and worth for the parts that worked and not being detracted too much by the parts that didn’t.
Flash forward to the present. The very same day that Madonna‘s new video (above) makes it’s debut, Maya drops the first video for her own upcoming album, scheduled for this Summer. “Bad Girls” is a bold contrast to the ultra-American aesthetics of Madonna‘s Super Bowl pandering fiasco of “Give Me All Your Luvin” and features the Sri-Lankan musician on the streets of Morocco among a modestly dressed crowd and stunt drivers drifting Beamers. The women who dance behind the artist aren’t dressed as skanky as Madonna is in her own video and, although M.I.A. can’t help but make her customary gun reference in another one of her singles, she doesn’t use a hand gesture to simulate a pistol like she did in the “Give Me All Your Luvin” clip. Nope… this time when she says the word “Bang” her backup dancers are strapped with much more intimidating assault rifles. Personally, the sample of stereotypical Eastern music and even the overall aesthetic feels a bit played out for me, not to mention that it’s hard to take it seriously when this release lands consecutively with an appearance in Madonna‘s video. How can we buy someone as the anti-material girl when they’re simultaneously singing the praises of the quintessential money/fame hungry attention-whore that’s built her career off of the concept of superficiality and sexual promiscuity? It’s difficult. Right now, two contrasting, yet equally potent, images are being emitted of and by the same person congruently.
Press Conference & Interview
If the video debuts weren’t enough hype for one day, Feb. 2 also saw Madonna taking the podium in Indianapolis for a press conference. She entered the stage in the type of baggy zoot suit slacks that she wore in her “Express Yourself” era, dangly pocket-watch-style chain swinging from her hip and all. Back in the day she’d pair it with the blazer and nothing but a bra underneath. These days, it appears that she’s located the missing vest and wears that instead, leaving her bare arms exposed to display how hard she has fought to tone them. Again, her midriff is concealed by some sort of sparkling glorified equivalent to a cummerbund/spanx. She’s got fingerless gloves on each hand, like she was cast as the double for Kids Incorporated‘s Ryan Lambert when he played Rudy “The Toughest Kid in the 8th Grade” in The Monster Squad. A cross rests above her sternum and she’s wearing a charm bracelet. It looks as if she was dressed by toddlers picking through ma-ma-material at her own late-80s/early-90s garage sale. There was a huge crowd and tons of fanfare, but none of it seemed warranted. For the most part, all of the questions revolved around either how much planning went into the half-time show, if she enjoyed Indianapolis, who she was rooting for, and/or what fans could expect from her production. One person asked her some football questions, which she clearly couldn’t answer. The only worthwhile question was about if Alex Rodriguez actually has an oil painting in his home depicting himself as a centaur. She claimed that she didn’t know, but that she’s pretty sure that he has a “very large photograph of (her) lying on a horse“. She spoke of her own injuries and toughing through them as if she were one of the athletes. She spoke of the preparation as if the feat of dancing for 12 minutes during the rest period of the biggest televised sporting event of the year was as big of a triumph as actually playing in it. Everyone spoke as if the half-time show mattered as much as, if not more than, the Super Bowl itself. Some people kissed her ass. Nobody asked if M.I.A. had plans to blow up the stadium. Overall, it didn’t really matter.
Madonna was wearing the same getup in her interview with Bob Costas that aired before the game -it was filmed the same day as the press conference. Costas was a little more direct about a couple of things. He referenced Janet Jackson‘s “wardrobe malfunction” that caused so much drama 4 years earlier; something that had actually been addressed during the press conference, already. Again, she guaranteed that a situation like that would not occur. From there he followed it up by asking about her reputation as a provocateur. This was also addressed in the press conference, where she answered the concern by stating that the show would be suitable for the entire family. Costas, however, phrased his question by asking how she feels being viewed as an act that’s “safe” and “mainstream” enough to appear at the Super Bowl. Her answer was that she didn’t think that she “was chosen because people perceive (her) to be mainstream.” She actually said that. This from a broad that just had her own press conference, has won 7 Grammys, and has appeared in commercials for Pepsi, Mitsubishi, BMW, Gap, Motorola, Max Factor, etc. etc. etc.
[Side Note]: Matt Lauer also interviewed President Obama during the pregame, but they just talked about irrelevant shit like politics and the actual FOOTBALL GAME.
Throughout the pre-game bullshit, viewers were forced to sit through a bunch of other confusing and sub-par “entertainment”. Lenny Kravitz was on hand to play, what I can only assume, was a selection of uninspired 3 chord hits with lyrics that could have been written by low-level elementary students. “Fly, high, in the sky… etc.“ Just because Jimi Hendrix is dead, it doesn’t mean that the world should have to settle for just any black man with a guitar and a weak 60s vibe. America loves a non-threatening black man (I’m looking at you Will Smith, Nick Cannon, & the 2012 versions of Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg). For quite a few seasons now, Faith Hill has been singing the intro song to Sunday Night Football each week, because nothing says sweat, blood, the gridiron, and concussions like a PTA mom in a cat suit. Meanwhile, Hank Williams Jr. -who is too fucking backwoods to keep his mouth shut- caught the same delusions as Chuck Norris and began ignorantly spouting off about politics, until he compared the president to Hitler and lost his gig singing the Monday Night football theme, after 22yrs. Now we’re left with this type of shit, strictly; a 44year-old pop/country crossover songstress singing a reworked version of Joan Jett‘s “I Hate Myself For Loving You“, while shaking her hips, snapping her fingers, pointing at the camera, and strutting around in stilletos, a blazer, and capris pants. The exclusive Super Bowl version of the intro simply had the lyrics reworked even further so that -believe it or not- they were actually worse. “In celebration of our beautiful country“, The Voice star, Blake Shelton and his wife, Miranda Lambert, who placed 3rd on the debut season of the then-basic cable reality show Nashville Star, sang “America the Beautiful,” by putting their own patented country star twang on it. Immediately afterward, American Idol season 1 winner, Kelly Clarkson took the stage to sing the National Anthem and “to honor America“. That one I get, because that’s probably the only song that she should ever be singing anyway. Clarkson‘s this generation’s Amy Grant. She was made for that type of scene. But otherwise, what the fuck does Faith Hill, Miranda Lambert, Kelly Clarkson, and Madonna have to do with football? Is it too much to ask to get something like a Wu-Tang half-time show with a Slayer opening theme? Something with some energy and masculinity for a sport that is said to emulate the framework of a battlefield and warfare more than any other. It’s clear that the target demographic for this filth isn’t even really the every man anymore, it’s the upper middle-class and the upper-middle-aged.
The Half-Time Show
After we’d been allowed to watch a decent amount of action that actually related to the sport of football, it was half-time. And with that came the reminder that we weren’t out of the woods yet. Not unlike the androgynous interpretation of Persian King, Xerxis I in the overly-praised blockbuster 300, Madonna is pulled out onto the field by a team of marching clowns dressed like Roman shoulders. She was sitting in a golden throne with hieroglyphics carved into it, wearing a leopard print cape, and rocking an ornate gold crown. She looked like a human scarab, so I’m assuming that she was supposed to be Egyptian -an Antony and Cleopatra vibe- except that she was still wearing some sort of Roman gladiator belt. With the crown looking like a winged helmet, a cape and a short dress, she actually resembled She-Ra princess of power more than anything. In fact, it’s almost uncanny. Was this intentional? Did anybody else notice this? Did she?
But does any of this really matter, anyway? Fuck it! Mix it altogether into some superficially ethnic soup like the brown sludge of mixed-up neapolitan ice-cream. Apparently she’s way into the Kabbalah and has a British accent. Madonna‘s been appropriating (inappropriating?) other people’s cultures and identities for years. Not surprisingly, the song “Vogue” was her entrance theme. “But wait!” you say. “Don’t the gays love Madonna?! Aren’t they happy that she took their dance?! Didn’t Madge invent gays? Didn’t she put gay on the map?!“ To that I say, I don’t know, but just ask the Paris is Burning crowd about voguing and see if they don’t go out of their way to ensure that you know who really invented it and who co-opted it for their own benefit. It’s similar to how Michael Jackson “invented” the Moonwalk, regardless of the fact that Popin Pete of the Bay Area break crew, the Electric Boogaloos, was shown doing the dance 2 years earlier in the Toni Basil choreographed video for The Talking Heads‘ “Crosseyed and Painless” (rejected for air by MTV because it was “too black”). The truth doesn’t matter, it’s more about how people remember history and Madonna‘s a master at redirecting attention… but more on that later.
When Madge hit the stage she didn’t seem to be moving too well in those high-heel boots and she looked stiff. I wasn’t positive about it until she shook, wobbled, and almost toppled while trying to stand on one leg, to extend the other up at her side. I think that this was the first moment of the night where I heard my sister say, “Aww… this is sad.“ I’m sure that it’s vital to have flawlessly professional backup dancers to work with, but in comparison, they just shone a spotlight on her inadequacies. The realization started to hit me that Madonna never was the greatest dancer. She always just rolled around on the floor or posed while other people busted out the real moves around her. Whether it’s because she’s getting up there in age or not, it’s clear that she can’t pull her own weight and she showed all the agility and fluidity of Grandpa Joe, when Charlie Bucket finally convinced him to pull his tired, lazy ass out of bed to visit the chocolate factory. The fact that she was obviously lip-syncing on top of it, begs the question of what the point was for her to show up at all. She’s not singing and she can’t dance. We’re just supposed to be happy enough to look at her while other uncredited, well practiced, and skilled performers work around her.
The crowd that was surrounding her dissipated, her wack ass 2000 hit song “MUSIC” kicked in and she awkwardly hopped up some bleachers that were mounted on the huge stage/platform that she’s performing on. Up, up… up. Labored movements. She looked like a member of the Kids Bop dance troupe or a child star from Barney and Friends. Four breakdancers flew over a back rail and started doing all kinds of athletic maneuvers around the bleachers without a misstep. These cats are hopping from step to step, doing flares, hand stands… all kinds of impressive jive. Madonna simply tried to step up on one of the bench rows and she stumbled, falling back. “Oh shit! She just fell! Did you catch that?” “Really?! I missed it.“ And from my sister a very sombre, “Awww! Saaad. Saaaad. This is really sad.”
I’ve been surprised to see comments about how “amazing” or “flawless” she was or how she “killed it“. Whatever anyone wants to believe, I think that this brief clip epitomizes the entire half-time show. If I wasn’t who I am, I probably could have even just posted this alone and called it good for the entire article. This shit is tragic.
I’ve been getting off topic quite a bit, so I’m not gonna really go into the Cirque du Soleil wingnut in the toga bouncing on a tight rope like a trampoline. What I do want to get into, however, is the fact that the terrible fucking electro/dance duo LMFAO were standing off to the side of the stage and dressed like Afrika Bambaata just cut them from Soul Sonic Force tryouts. In front of them is some sort of Pioneer device to make it look like they actually know how to create their own music. You’ve probably seen these clowns by now, because, for some reason that I can’t fathom, terrible shit like this is unavoidable. There is no good reason that any of us should even have to know that they exist. They slithered onto my radar a few years ago with that song “I’m in Miami Bitch” which was connected to WILL.I.AM of the same Blackeyed Peas that fucked up the super bowl half-time show last year. The “clean version (“I’m in Miami Trick”) was, fittingly, the title song for the Kardashian spinoff Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami. Their more recent jam, “Party Rock Anthem” soundtracks a KIA ad featuring dancing anthropomorphic hamsters during the robot apocalypse or some sort of nonsensical bullshit. The latter is the song that kicked in at the half-time show as Madonna climbed onto one of their shoulders and clapped her hands overhead like a toddler trying to catch a better view of the Macy’s Parade. Somebody should have handed that slag a balloon or some cotton candy.
I want to take this moment to break a few things down about these jokers. First off, they call themselves LMFAO. Is their inclusion a surprise? Not really. Madonna IS spelling love as L-U-V now. Thirteen-year-olds everywhere are probably really into this. Fuh-net-ick misspellings and IM-style abbrevs. aren’t just for the tween crowds who pass notes in Jr high hallways that begin with “What’s ^? Not Much Here” anymore. 53yr old women, apparently, also use them in $15million nationally televised productions. I wouldn’t be shocked to learn that the half-time show was partially sponsored by scented erasers and Lisa Frank binders. She’s getting a little old for that demographic, but don’t worry… according to wikipedia, one of the dudes from LMFAO -the one who’s shoulders she’s straddling- is turning 37 this year. He goes by the name “Redfoo“, but his real name is Stefan Kendal Gordy, as in the son of Motown founder/CEO Berry Gordy. This is actually one of the few things that I already knew about the group. What I didn’t realize was that the other member, Skyler “Skyblu” Gordy (yep, they’ve both adopted monikers that sound like a Sqeeze-it or Otter Pop flavor) is Redfoo‘s nephew, who is 11 years younger than him (not to mention Berry Gordy’s grandson). I wonder how they got a contract. Back in the early 80s, another of Gordy‘s sons, Kenneth, released the smash hit “Somebody’s Watching Me” under the name of Rockwell. Not unlike Tori Spelling‘s ludicrous story about how she was cast on 90210, Rockwell claims to have skirted nepotism by getting signed without the knowledge of his father or with the people signing him knowing of his his true connection. Because that makes perfect sense that the guy running shit doesn’t know that his child was just given a contract, the people working for him have no idea who his children are, and that these kids want to make it on their own merit and prove themselves, yet they go through their own parents’ companies to do it, instead of an outside studio. Sources further claim that he only revealed his identity once his track went to the top, but the song has Michael fucking Jackson singing the hook and Jermaine Jackson (Berry Gordy’s son-in-law) singing backup. So, of course, he got a contract. LMFAO doesn’t seem to be interested in distancing themselves, but if I was Gordy, I’d definitely want them to try and do just that.
After their song cuts back and forth in a mashup with “MUSIC“, momentarily breaks into their other track “I’m Sexy and I know it“, and they do a little dance routine, it’s time for the “Give Me All Your Luvin” segment that we’ve all been waiting for. A mob of cheerleaders roll out. Madonna, Nicki Minaj, and M.I.A. are all holding and shaking gold pom-poms. Madonna takes turns bumping asses with both of them. The overhead view shows clearly that the new Madonna logo, basically involves an “M” growing out of the X-Men logo. The lip-syncing is worse than it’s been throughout the entire performance up until now. Nicki Minaj does her verse and then comes M.I.A. I had been waiting for this moment the most, because I had a few questions about what would happen. The lyrics in the song are clearly “…I don’t give a shit” so would they have her say that? Would she change it? Would they play the little gunshot noise, while she makes a firing gun shape with her hand, and frightens white America? It’s probably not the best idea; she has been playing the “America thinks I’m a terrorist” angle for quite a while. What actually goes down, is pretty well documented at this point. She doesn’t do the gun… she flips off the camera instead and then, in a futile attempt, the network “tries” to shift cameras a second way too late. How that could even happen, I have questions about. Plus, if everything’s being lip-synced, why is the word “shit” still left in the song at all? Even if she just says, “I don’t give a shh…” it sounds the same to the ear.
Around this time I get a text from my friend Lani, like clockwork. I got one from her when Cee Lo Green was taking a blowtorch to his own artistic credibility by singing with Gwyneth Paltro too.
“Half time show is even more horrible than I thought. MIA get out of there.”
I responded. “She flipped off the camera and said ‘shit’.”
“Haha.” She didn’t seem to have caught it. I wondered how many people would. I followed up asking, “did you see Madonna fall?“ Her answer: “No.”
My sister continued to explain to my inquisitive 6 yr old niece about what was so “sad” about this show. Her answer dealt with how Madonna used to be “strong” or whatever. How she just looked like a goddam travesty now.
They finish that bit and, the next thing that I know, here comes Cee Lo dressed like a majorette. I feel that it’s necessary to constantly remind people that this guy is a member of the Goodie Mob. He ran with crews that actually robbed crews that my friends ran with. In my opinion, he’s taken a sharp turn for the worst in recent years and it probably all began around the time that his daughter was on My Super Sweet 16. That doesn’t mean that he didn’t still outshine Madonna during their rendition of “Like A Prayer” where they both changed into black designer choir robes. What would have been better is if LEON, the original actor from the video (and Cool runnings and Above the Rim) had shown up. Back when the “Like A Prayer” video originally came out, it was the most controversial shit around. Madonna brought the statue of a saint to life in a baptist church -Andrew McCarthy with a black Kim Cattrall- only to fuck him right there on a pew. She also got the bleeding palms of the stigmata and danced in front of burning crosses in nothing but a slip. That video got her dropped from a 5-million dollar Pepsi contract and got the commercial, which only aired once as the debut of the song, pulled from ever airing again. Now it’s 2012 and the song is the finale for the Super Bowl. 114 million people are watching. Pepsi is sponsoring the whole event.
By the next day -probably, even just later the same night- it was easy enough to type in “M.I.A.” and/or “middle finger” and find links everywhere. With a reported 117.7-million people watching the game (114-million watching the half time show), somebody was bound to catch it, but many of the sentiments seemed to be that people actually didn’t notice the gesture at all when it occurred, and only found out about it at all due to reading all of the coverage, after the fact. It almost felt like the half-time show and this stunt was still getting more coverage than the game itself (obviously, I’m guilty of providing more too, but this isn’t a sports site). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the Patriots, who have had the focus on their loss to the Giants slightly redirected for the second time since losing to them at the Super Bowl 4 years ago, when Janet Jackson‘s nasty old boob flopped out. In fact… it’s almost too convenient that these things keep happening. But, if I really want to get all Velma Dinkley up in this mix, it’s important to consider who really benefits the most from this middle finger that the world almost didn’t see (and a huge portion of which didn’t even notice).
The most surprising thing to me was how little I was hearing about Madonna‘s lethargic, labored “dancing” and her fall, which was much more noticeable than M.I.A.‘s little stunt. The fall itself was easy enough to write off for people, because, as anyone who offers their blind support will tell you, she was wearing those high-heel boots. The fact that 4 other dancers were pulling off all-manner of aerial tricks around her at the same time, which were far more difficult than simply standing, doesn’t register as a legitimate counterpoint for these people. The problem with that excuse is that her entire performance was weak and forced from the beginning. M.I.A. took the attention away from the fact that Madonna wasn’t only physically unprepared, but that she just might not be able to swing this type of labor intensive performance anymore and, if she has to rely on her vocal abilities and these terrible new songs, it’s not looking good for anyone.
In a recent interview with Newsweek, the self-centered maniac addressed the ridiculously high prices of her upcoming tour in a fucked up economy by saying, “… start saving your pennies now.” She continued with,“People spend $300 on crazy things all the time, things like handbags. So work all year, scrape the money together, and come to my show. I’m worth it.” [Tickets are actually around $358.] This half-time show was supposed to work as a promotion for her tour and, for anyone that’s viewing the actual performance subjectively, it clearly showed that she isn’t anywhere near worth it, even if it’s just to watch her crash and burn. The most that I might spend on one of her shows would be $30 and that’s only if it was 100% guaranteed that I would have an opportunity to give a full-force shove to that old hag and topple her myself. Even then, it would still only be a maybe. M.I.A. flipping the bird afforded Madonna a distraction from the obviousness of her crumbling importance and I seriously doubt that Madonna herself didn’t have any knowledge that it was going to go down. Now ignorant American’s can blow it off by saying, “that damn ethnic bitch doesn’t have any fucking class?! Who is that dumb fucking whore anyway?! It’s a shame!. Madonna did such a great job. Then that stupid… what the fuck is she anyway, a black? Some kind of Muslim? What does she even do? Is that rapping or hip-hop or whatever, ‘cuz I hate that shit! It just don’t appeal to me. It’s just- There’s no music in it. It’s just… y’know, niggers talking. U.S.A.! U.S.A! Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!“ Yep, because a shit ton of people have immediately gone out of their way to state how otherwise flawless her routine was, how ignorant and classless M.I.A. is, how much better Madonna is than Lady Gaga, how she “still has it“, etc. It’s as if they aren’t talking about the same chick that once made a video where she was fucking a dude in a church, one where she’s doing a striptease with tassels on her tits before kissing a minor, and another one in dominatrix gear. It’s as if Madonna wasn’t the one that brought M.I.A. on stage, herself, in the first place. They act as if some hood ass brown person sneaked up onto the field to ruin the most patriotic day of the year; a day where we celebrate commercials and the targeting of our wallets. And flipping off the camera? Seriously? Not really that hardcore, I’m afraid. It would have actually been more subversive to just hold up a John 3:16 sign like Rainbow Man. It’s a lazy move, but an easy enough one. Madonna gets to retain some controversy from her youth and reel in the hype, while appeasing the same crowd that would tsk-tsk their fingers at her 27 yrs ago. Meanwhile, M.I.A. gets to separate herself from looking like too much of a sell-out and she gets to absorb her own publicity boost for her new “Bad Girls” video that she just dropped. Everyone wins… from a financial standpoint, that is. From an artistic standpoint, nobody does.
In a famous post-Beatles-breakup interview with Dick Cavett, John Lennon explained how the guys didn’t want to end up being “dragged on stage playing ‘She Loves You’ when (they’ve) got asthma and tuberculosis and when (they’re) 50“. In December of 2010, Paul McCartney, more or less, did just that on SNL; dragging his 70yr old frame out to the stage with some fashion boy rockers backing him, playing old material, and sounding/looking worse than Lana Del Ray. It was sad. It never had to happen. But, of course, he too had his adamant supporters. “Hey! He’s 70, leave him alone!“ Real quality should be just like a good joke, if you have to pair it with an explanation, it’s already a failure. Great, Madonna‘s getting old. Then maybe it’s time for her to cut the bullshit and accept her reality instead of everyone else being expected to accept/create excuses. Unfortunately, she has a nation full of enablers. The next time that you see her anywhere, pay attention to her hands. She’ll be wearing fingerless gloves. Is she a germaphobe? Nope, because, if she was, those gloves would have fingers. Maybe she’s always on her way to or from lifting weights at the gym. I think it’s pretty clear why she wears them and it’s because she has old veiny witch mitts that she doesn’t want anyone to see. Lady Gaga is currently ripping off Madonna‘s old routines and getting away with it, but it’s easy to do because Madonna’s career was never really based as heavily on talent as it was on sex-appeal and shock value. So what now that the sex-appeal is gone? She cleverly exposes flashes of skin in methodical ways, without ever really exposing her figure. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want her to show it. I want her to stop.
There are ways to keep performing and do it well. Prince is still killing it at 53 and he put on the only half-time show that I ever remember seeing that was worth a shit at all. I’ve seen This is It and, even though MJ was fucking dying, he could still dance. Madonna‘s new album has a picture on it that looks like it’s from the early 90s and she’s calling it MDNA, which I can only assume is a nod to Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (aka: MDMA, Molly, Ecstacy). The sad thing is that her new song is way less mature and sounds regressive compared to her own older material from the 80s, like “Live to Tell“, “Papa Don’t Preach“, or “Like A Prayer“. Back then, she was trying to prove that she had more substance and dimension to her than sucking dicks for record deals and now she’s trying to prove that groups of men still chase after her after all of these years and actually give a shit. It’s sort of crazy when you realize that that former intention to promote herself as a legitimate artist while grinding her vag on everything she could find, was actually a much easier sell than this new effort to convince us that people are still dying to fuck her. The world is forced to watch this woman go through a mid-life crisis and that’s bad enough without vocally supporting it or, even worse, investing $300 a pop into her delusion bank. She wants the collect the new batch of youth that the Gagas of the world are inheriting like Pokemon and her methods to sustain herself just aren’t age appropriate. It’s like when the Jenny Jones Show stylists started dressing the host like a mall tween and shoving barrettes in her hair, etc. Ciccone wants her sex throne back and her shock value back. I think that she might have a personal issue with seeing others succeed with that formula and is convincing herself that it should still be as effortless for her to step onto the scene and reclaim it. And I have to admit that she’ll probably get her money, because consumers are fucking stupid; they still like Bret Michaels, after all. But if you’re young, the formula’s pretty easy: show your tits, market yourself as the spoke-person for a culture that you’re co-opting so that you have a built-in fanbase, look daring. How are Lady Gaga and Madonna the spokespeople for the gay community, anyway? Isn’t there enough persecution being inflicted on their community without them having to listen to this terrible music? There’s plenty of footage of Lady Gaga as a superficial tanning-bed/sorority-style party girl in mini-dresses with her rack hanging out. She’s full of shit and inadequate too, but she just doesn’t have the arthritis that’s making it obvious yet. Madonna should have tried to push forward by becoming more classy, by continuing to mature and evolve her style, but her superficiality and ego can’t handle it. Instead, she’s gonna force it down America‘s throat and, to successfully do so, she needs a younger team like Minaj and Arulpragasam backing her up and validating her for the younger crowd.
Based on the following quote from an interview with NME in 2010, M.I.A. might have been a more obvious recruit for Madonna than one might think. Here’s what she had to say in regards to comparisons being made between her and Lady Gaga (something Madonna also constantly endures):
“None of her music’s reflective of how weird she wants to be or thinks she is. She models herself on Grace Jones and Madonna, but the music sounds like 20-year-old Ibiza disco, you know? She’s not progressive, but she’s a good mimic. She sounds more like me than I fucking do!“
“I’m mystified by the laziness of people looking at how she presents herself, and somehow assuming that implies there’s a high level of intelligence in the songwriting. Her approach to image is really interesting, but you listen to the music, and you just hear glow sticks. Smart outlets for musical journalism give her all this credit, like she’s the new Madonna [...] Although I’m coming from a perspective of also thinking Madonna is not great at all. I’m like, fair enough: she is the new Madonna, but Madonna’s a dumb-ass!”
She later tried to send a clarification to the mag via email by saying, “I may have contradicted myself. My problem isn’t actually with Lady Gaga. But there’s not much in her music to distinguish it from other glossy, formulaic pop. She just happens to wear slightly weirder outfits than Britney Spears. But they’re not that weird – they’re mostly just skimpy. She’s fully marketing her body/sexuality; she’s just doing it while wearing, like, a ‘fierce’ telephone hair-hat.”
And, “… I shouldn’t have called Madonna a dumb-ass. Her music and she have just gotten so boring to me, this last decade. I think maybe she doesn’t hold her money very gracefully, the way some people can’t hold their drink. But one thing she is surely not is dumb.”
Of course Gaga fans were rabid about Newsom‘s quotes and that’s something that Madonna still retains as well: a highly defensive fanbase. It’s also something that should continue to serve her well. Of course the Gaga comparisons are pointless and are, admittedly, lazy on their own. However, at the same time, they are remarkably valid. For me it isn’t really directly about what Madonna isn’t able to do anymore and how the younger model has stepped in, as much as it’s about witnessing a real life example of Lady Gaga‘s inevitable future declining into a substanceless spectacle. Madge has already made backhanded comments about Gaga‘s “Born This Way” being a “remake” of “Express Yourself” and now she’s teamed up with another artist who’s been outspoken about calling Gaga out for being derivative. The absurd thing is that both Madonna and Ga Ga are derivative and always have been. [My favorite Madonna story involves Sire Records president Seymour Stein flaunting his young upcoming star to Jean-Michel Basquiat and an unimpressed David Byrne while the two were high as fuck on cocaine]. That being said, there was a time and place where Madonna shined and it will always be more legitimate than what’s happening right now with either of their careers. Even if it was always a fabrication or a search for fame/acknowledgement that sparked whatever was the driving force back then, it’s hard to deny that Madonna had passion once and that it was more than just the passion for trying not to fade back into the distance or let go. Let’s face it, all she wants to do now is take you’re money and, with the majority of the world being seemingly oblivious to how much of a failure that Super Bowl performance really was, it becomes a “success” by default. If I were Madonna, I still wouldn’t be getting too cocky. I’d be far too busy thanking my “lucky stars” that I didn’t break a hip.
Bonus Coverage: The Commercials
As we’ve already conceded, the Super Bowl really has nothing to do with football anymore, it’s about unrelated marketing. In fact, over the years, nothing has become more hyped up or had more importance placed in them than the gaps between the actual broadcast itself… in other words, the commercials. What an amazing marketing ploy to advertise advertisements. So, obviously, it would be amiss for me not to address these overblown attempts to siphon your duckets when I’m already discussing all of the other ones.
Here we go: Commercial-wise, Elton John appeared in a terrible Pepsi ad as a king who -as people fail to entertain him- acts like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld, dropping them into a dungeon and saying “No Pepsi for You.” Then X-Factor season 1 winner, Melanie Amaro (I had to look it up) sings and drops him into a dungeon where Flavor Flav is kicking it. Basically, it was sad. Elton John is supposed to be a Knight and Flavor Flav was in Public Enemy for chrissakes, now they’re just proving how little they matter by becoming dancing parodies of themselves for the public. Seinfeld starred in an Acura ad that, believe it or not, actually features the original Soup Nazi, and the comedian is still making references to a show that ended 14 years ago. To make matters worse, Jay “I’ll fight to remain on television whether anyone wants to see me or not” Leno is in the commercial, as well. Another car ad from Kia Motors featured Motley Crue and, when it flashed to a shot of Tommy Lee, I made sure to look over at my sister again to catch another “Aww… sad” right on cue. That guy looks like a goddam disaster; worse than Nikki Sixx while he was officially dead. Someone needs to ask Wilford Brimley to drag his decomposing ass into the cocoon pool. Betty White made her, now mandatory, appearance as a “shocking” old lady with a sharp tongue, during an ad for The Voice. For whatever reason, the Voice hosts were engaged in an all out martial arts brawl and White popped up to make some forced statement about how men always want her for her body… blah, blah, blah. I’d like to nominate her for the John Travolta award this year, for having her career miraculously resurrected, only to make America eventually regret it. Oh, and apparently they’ve chosen to make a film based on the classic Milton Bradley game Battlship, but they’ve managed to make it about aliens and Rihanna’s in it. Sources (aka: my own 2 eyes) suggest that it will not be good.