10 February 2012

US v Canada trade

from today's news:

"US trade deficit reaches six-month high" (Financial Times)

"Canada's trade surplus doubles in December" (CBC)

Conspiracy theory time: Super Bowl halftime shows and election years.

(This post isn't serious it's just for kicks.)

2004: New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Justin Timberlake exposes Janet Jackson's breast during Super Bowl halftime show. FCC fines CBS. Republican incumbent George W. Bush wins re-election, and exit polls show that moral values were the leading concern issue in the year's election.

2012: New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. M.I.A. flips the bird during the Super Bowl halftime show. What happens next...

In 2004, the Democratic nominee for president was John Kerry, a US Senator from Massachusetts. This year, a Republican contender for president is a former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney. However, former US Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum has now taken a temporary lead in the primaries.

Massachusetts. Super Bowl halftime shows during election years. Obscene incidents during those shows.

Could it be that the New England Patriots, M.I.A., and Justin Timberlake were acting as Republican undercover operatives during the Super Bowl?

Also the Chicago Sun Times reports about a man named Robert Dewey Hoskins who escaped from a California mental hospital. Hoskins was convicted of stalking and threatening Madonna in 1996. I think this Hoskins guy may be an operative too if he takes retaliatory action against Madonna regarding the halftime show.

Another moral outrage failure for Bozell

Brent Bozell, founder of the Parents Television Council, finally has written a column condemning NBC over M.I.A. giving the middle finger during this year's Super Bowl halftime show: "Another Fleeting Failure for NBC". Of course it's predictable he'd be outraged, but this column is stilted in several ways. He opens: "Super Bowl XLVI was a good football game, marred once again by the bohemian elite at NBC." Well, the last time the "bohemian elite at NBC" played the Super Bowl (that was in 2009 with the Cardinals and Steelers and halftime with Bruce Springsteen...but I don't recall Bozell complaining that NBC had a commie pinko labor advocate perform!). I personally disagree and see this game more a carbon copy of the 2008 one with the same teams (Patriots and Giants) and a similar ending: Eli Manning with a last-minute winning drive and Tom Brady failing to reach the end zone as time runs out.

Of course after reporting how NBC couldn't blur out MIA's middle finger on time this conservative Christian activist must play the persecution card: "The same network skillfully edited God out of a clip of children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance during last year's U.S. Open golf tournament." Funny how he dismisses complaints from Muslims about drawing Muhammad yet leaving God out of the Pledge of Allegiance (by the way the ORIGINAL Pledge didn't include "under God")!

First he misleads readers into thinking that M.I.A. used a similar routine from the halftime show in the music video:

While she was launching the obscene gesture, she was rapping, "I'm-a say this once, yeah I don't give a (S-word)." That's in the newly recorded Madonna song they were performing ("Give Me All Your Luvin'"), and it's also in the video. How does NBC not prepare for a bleep and a camera shift when it knows it's coming?
I rewatched and then noticed at 2:17 mark of the video (that's during Nicki Minaj's performance) M.I.A. had her middle finger up albeit with a bandage on the finger:

HOWEVER, during her rapping part of the song (including the "I don't give a..." line) she actually uses her index finger, as Bozell concedes: "In the Madonna video, [M.I.A.] points her fingers like a gun."

Concluding his column, Bozell dismisses Sasha Frere-Jones's criticism of the PTC (but Bozell didn't mention that the PTC declined to file complaints formally with the FCC): "[Frere-Jones] tried to be offended instead that the Super Bowl show featured 'ad after ad that likened women -- negatively -- to sofas, cars and candy.' He raised his middle fingers to 'anyone who thinks profanity is somehow more harmful to our children than images of violence and misogyny.'" Bozell lets his mindless authoritarianism get in the way of addressing the issue of misogynistic ads like the GoDaddy ads and the Teleflora ad featuring Adrianna Lima. Bozell has complained about media misogyny in the past (see "MTV, Both Sleazy and Sour" from Dec. 10, 2011; "Exploiting the Teen Temptress" from Dec. 18, 2010; "Moms vs. Hip-Hop" from Oct. 20, 2006). But somehow, Super Bowl ads get a free pass even if those blatantly objectifying messages reach millions of children. Where's Bozell's outrage? (I don't want to know where his hands were on Super Bowl Sunday.) Maybe football is such an obligately macho sport that you can't have it without the cheerleaders or woman-hating ads. Plus, apparently Bozell is more scared about kids who are scarred for life because of an unnoticeable middle finger! (Case in point, that middle finger registered so slowly in many people's eyes including to NBC's control room staff.)

Credit to post #18 on Free Republic's repost of Bozell's column: "M.I.A.'s bird-flipping is far less offensive to me than the behavior tolerated by the NFL of so many of their players." (Michael Vick, Donte Stallworth, Plaxico Burress, and other players with criminal records come to mind.)

08 February 2012

The real context of MIA's finger gesture at the super bowl halftime show

If you watched the halftime show of this year's Super Bowl (rather unexciting, more of a carbon copy of the one after the 2007 season) you might've seen rapper M.I.A sticking up her middle finger for a moment. Then the screen suddenly cuts to an aerial view of the field and blurs very quickly. If you were wondering why NBC blurred the whole screen for a second after MIA finished her performance it was because the network realized what MIA did and thought the blur could censor the action on time. It didn't, and I presume that NBC had some sort of tape delay system. But it does confirm the opinion that MIA's action was so quick that many people wouldn't notice exactly which finger she was sticking up. In fact, Time magazine TV critic James Poniewoznik commented: "M.I.A...apparently briefly flipped off the camera in a gesture so shocking that I had no idea she even did it until NBC issued an apology for it." An Associated Press report also quoted a viewer who only realized the next morning what MIA did.

Here's the video.

And here's the official music video for Madonna's "Give Me All Your Luvin'". Go to the 2:39 mark, where MIA's part is. When she raps "I don't give a sh..." she points out her index finger as in mimicking firing a gun. Hmm. So could it be that MIA might've accidentally moved her wrong finger? A possibility. UK tabloid The Sun quotes an anonymous insider: "M.I.A. did nothing similar in rehearsals," and also alleged that Madonna disapproved of MIA's action.

And of course, the good ol' Parents Television Council had to weigh in. (No long-winded column yet about "OOGA BOOGA DECLINING DECENCY STANDARDS IN AMERICA!" by PTC founder/former president/now advisor/continuing columnist Brent Bozell.) Current PTC president Tim Winter was quoted in the same AP source: "Most families would agree that the middle finger aimed directly at them is not appropriate, especially during the most-watched television event of the year."

The PTC's full statement is here, and furthermore Winter stated: "It has been eight years since the Janet Jackson striptease, and both NBC and the NFL knew full well what might happen. They chose a lineup full of performers who have based their careers on shock, profanity and titillation." The performers in this year's halftime show indeed don't lack controversy. Headliner Madonna has been provocative throughout her nearly 30-year pop music career and has especially inflamed the "pro-family" crowd, for example in 1989 soft drink brand Pepsi canceled a planned TV commercial with Madonna because the American Family Association complained about the singer's "Like a Virgin" music video using Christian symbolism and boycotted Pepsi for planning the ad. And as i blogged about earlier Brent Bozell had gripes with co-performer Nicki Minaj, who also had a wardrobe malfunction on a Good Morning America TV performance last year. Cee-Lo had a popular hit with "Fuck You" (on the radio "Forget You"), of course that would inflame Bozell's sensibilities (the golden passage in this column? "Any radio edit is just a lame Band-Aid for a pus-filled boil."). Another Bozell-founded Cultural Guardian, the Culture and Media Institute, also targeted MIA over her song "Lovalot" because its chorus sounded like "I love Allah"...oh no, those evil pop musicians can NOT be singing about ALLAH and MUSLIMS to our precious kids' ears!!!! But other than the performers' controversial backgrounds, what other evidence does Winter have to claim NBC knew another Janet Jackson moment would happen? In fact Winter had nothing to say about the suggestive dancing in the halftime show, and had the middle finger incident not occurred would he even have issued a Monday morning statement? Furthermore, the song selection wasn't highly offensive (unlike the Super Bowl show with Janet Jackson with songs like "Rock Your Body" and "Shake Ya Tailfeather"). From wikipedia: The setlist included "Vogue," a medley of Madonna's "Music" and LMFAO's two largest hits ("Party Rock Anthem" and "Sexy and I Know It,"...), followed by "Give Me All Your Luvin'," "Open Your Heart," "Express Yourself" (in a duet with [Cee-Lo] Green), and the finale, "Like a Prayer"."

Wonder why PTC doesn't have a complaint form to the FCC on its front page (even as of right now) unlike back in February 2004 after the Janet Jackson incident? The "Hilicon Valley" blog at TheHill.com explains: "A spokeswoman for the Parents Television Council said the organization won't ask the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to fine NBC over the incident, but "we're certain others will do so whether we encourage them to or not."" In fact, if the FCC decides to fine NBC over this incident, MIA is contractually bound to pitch in. It seems by not actively pursuing formal complaints over MIA's middle finger, PTC is silently acknowledging that this is a weaker case than Janet Jackson's breast.