M.I.A.’s Matangi is out today and along with the religious iconography that is referenced throughout the album, in a recent interview with NPR, the “Bad Girls” rapper has explained that the middle finger she gave at the 2012 Super Bowl halftime show is part of that spiritual expression. When asked why she did it, she explains, “It’s the Matangi mudra… in America you have gang signs, and people throw up initials and stuff like that. Well, 5,000 years ago, there was thing called a mudra, which is your sitting position when you do yoga or you’re meditating or praying or whatever. And you have different ones based on what you’re meditating over. There’s not a lot of them that are named after gods and goddesses, but the middle finger is specifically named Matangi — the Matangi mudra.”

So you were not giving America the middle finger? This was the Matangi symbol?
M.I.A.: Yes. Do you like that? (Laughing) It’s good, isn’t it?

Something tells me that there might have been another meaning in that.
M.I.A.: It’s cultural! In my country, it’s godly. OK?

Is the NFL believing that? I know they’re suing you.
M.I.A.: Of course the NFL is not believing that, because the NFL does not believe in any other culture outside of the NFL. But it’s true; you can Wikipedia it. You can just say “Matangi” and “mudra,” and you’ll see it’s the middle finger.

Back in September, we reported that the NFL and M.I.A. were going to go into an epic legal battle over what has been deemed an obscene gesture. The dispute primarily hinges on a post-Janet Jackson NippleGate contract that stipulated performers would “acknowledge the great value of the goodwill associated with the NFL and the tremendous public respect and reputation for wholesomeness enjoyed by the NFL” and would “ensure that all elements of [her] Performance, including without limitation [her] wardrobe, shall be consistent with such goodwill and reputation.” It will be interesting to see whether M.I.A.’s argument that her bird flip was in reference to prayer helps her case will be interesting to see.

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Comments (12)
  1. ”Dry that one out and you could fertilize the lawn”- Jeanie Bueller

  2. Boom. Religioned.

  3. The real howler in this interview is when she waxes jealous about Kony 2012.

  4. Well, it’s her first name… Matangi.

  5. Say what you will, but you took a hand symbol that you knew would be controversial and bastardized it so that you could appear edgy and anti-authority. You got busted and brought in some obscure religious sign instead of just fessing up and saying “I gave the middle finger on TV”.

  6. lame excuse for a lame attitude at a lame show. Also MIA’s new song is lame

  7. Too bad what she did is not that specific mudra as that involves 2 hands and an interlocking grip. I always thought this girl was despicable, but now she’s trying to use a culture and religion that she already cherry-picks from to serve her purposes to mitigate her disrespect to another culture (US).

  8. I’m imagining her stumbling across that gesture and thinking, “That’s IT…it was all about religion. Boom.”

    I doubt she even knew that hand gesture existed until recently. Otherwise, why not use that excuse right after the incident?

    Honestly, this is all pretty funny…I even get the impression that MIA thinks it’s funny as well.

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