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Did M.I.A.'s Middle Finger Shoot Down her 'Paper Planes'?
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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Her name is Mathangi Arulpragasam. Some know her as "M.I.A." Others know her as "that chick who sings 'Paper Planes.'" Following the Super Bowl Halftime Show, we all know her as "that dolt who flipped off America." 

And thanks to her middle-finger malfunction, that one digit could cost her a lot more than record sales. According to a story in SPIN, M.I.A. may have to pay $550,000 to NBC in the event that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) drops a fine on the network, much like they did for Janet Jackson's nip slip in 2004.

In the case of this year's Super Bowl, TMZ's sources say the NFL took responsibility for the content, covering NBC for its legal obligations. But there was a catch: The NFL reportedly made sure the contract M.I.A. signed forces her to foot the bill for any potential FCC fines. 

Now for someone who has a sold a few songs, she can probably drop that coin, so what about the cost to her image? I get it: She wanted to make this point about how anti-establishment she is, and since she has a national platform, she was going to use it to her benefit. There's only one issue with her statement: It's impossible to show how "against the man" you are when you are doing something that very few people in the world have ever done and would sell a family heirloom to do. 

You are singing...well, rapping in the halftime show of the Super Bowl, so save the ballyhoo and get with it. Granted, the social media universe has moved on, but the sponsors and network have not — and someone has to pay. NBC and the NFL have issued their apologies for the failed delay system and how "inappropriate" the action was, respectfully. And then there's the sponsor. Bridgestone Americas has reached out to the NFL and NBC discussing their multiple emails of angst. Here's a question: If you are watching Madonna lip-synch an entire set, are you really thinking, "Honey, you know our tires are low, right?" Moving on... 

Will this harm her career? Probably not. Will this ruin her credibility? Maybe. 

Her finger to the man was about as effective as Alec Baldwin saying that if Dubya was elected president he would move to England. Let's see; he gets paid American dollars — lots of them. He is a star on American TV. And he wants to jettison his career to the BBC? 

MEMO to all famous people: If you want to make a statement, write it down on paper first. Then, fold that piece of paper up...and throw it away.


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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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