1. MIA’s vacillations and the Super Bowl halftime show

    “Maya vacillates between wanting to be huge and maintaining her artistic integrity. That’s her dilemma.”
    New York Times, May 25, 2010 

    Less than two years later, she was on stage with Madonna, bookended by half-minutes parceled into $3.5 million chunks and purchased by beer companies and movie studios and the big gross league whose big gross product was being showcased in the first place.

    Then, in a half-second that would’ve cost, say, Hyundai $58,000, MIA shot the finger at a camera. Maybe she got nervous. Maybe she knew exactly what would happen and didn’t care, because she needed something—anything—to serve as a counterbalance for her involvement in a night that goes beyond symbolizing and actually propagates American excess. Maybe she just didn’t know what to do with her hands.

    Either way, she annoyed a lot of people—the FCC and station managers and overreactive parents and people like me, who initially take most signs of conflict as evidence of hypocrisy:

    MIA is going to wear an Occupy T-shirt while performing at a Goldman Sachs corporate retreat.
    — @seangentille

    And that’s not fair, either; humans often have conflicting views, and artists are humans. They shouldn’t go out of their way to hide themselves from reaching mass audiences, either—”wanting to be huge” is not inherently a hatable thing. So I’m not totally sure what bothers me about any of this.

    But there’s a fine line between using a system against itself to accomplish a goal and actually getting sucked into the machine, and it’s tough to rectify the fact that MIA, the brain behind the “Born Free” video, would’ve followed a military flyover—had the roof on a football palace built with $600 million of public funds been open.

    And nothing she did, whether walking out in a Tamil Tiger shirt or making herself puke in the middle of the stage, would’ve changed that. Whether it worked—the half-measure she seemed to take to keep her feet in both ends of the cultural pool—remains to be seen.