NBC, the NFL, and MIA herself have now all apologized for the singer's middle finger incident at the Super Bowl—but why? "Unless somebody was handing out Xanax with the foam fingers, Lucas Oil Stadium was ringing with the music of profanities" during the game, writes Sasha Frere-Jones in the New Yorker. What's more, viewers at home were subjected to commercials likening women "to sofas, cars, and candy," he notes. So what's with the outrage? It's ridiculous to imply that "profanity is somehow more harmful to our children than images of violence and misogyny."
The incensed reaction is "tiresome and deeply hypocritical," particularly because MIA—whom Frere-Jones calls "the most important artist of the aughts"—was just "illustrating her line, acting out the attitude of the words: performing." And the fact that her chosen method of performance isn't legal on television is just an antiquated holdover from the 1950s. "I say we get out of The Pretending To Be Moral game altogether," Frere-Jones suggests. He goes on to note that MIA often provokes, through her music, in much less trivial ways. "Remind me why we’re talking about a middle finger again?" he concludes. "I’m just sorry Maya apologized." (In related news, click to find out why we call the middle-finger salute "flipping the bird.")