The half-time shenanigans at the Super Bowl are as legendary as the American tradition of taking offence to the things that seem kind of tame.

This is the country that - to paraphrase Kurtz from Heart of Darkness via Apocalypse Now - "trains young men to drop fire on people" but has an almighty tanty if someone gives a little stink finger.

Madonna's gob-smackingly opulent production was, some say, upstaged by MIA and her digit and some outrage has been reported - or possibly drummed up.

There has been audible tut-tutting at the very least and given that there's still an outstanding fine of about half a million bucks in regards to nipple-gate this is something that has to be taken seriously.


Let's not forget that it's not uncommon for American networks to blur out a finger gesture of an angry basketball coach after a brawl. Blow someone's head off with 45, smack a guy senseless with a hockey stick, or fill the entire schedule with child-killing serial killers by all means, but woe-betide if someone slips a nipple or moves a finger in an inappropriate manner.

In New Zealand it's the sort of thing that goes on in our Parliament or even on the news.

Ron Mark's famous 'bird' was flipped when he was part of the circus known as the first New Zealand First and it's one of Parliament's greatestever moments.

Sadly it helped bring in new laws that mean we'll no longer get to see this kind of thing live from the house. The cameras are only meant to roll when a member is talking. Kind of like in a porno flick.

Actually Ron's finger wasn't as concerning to the MPs as images of sleeping MPs. They know that looks bad so now they control the cameras. You must go there in person next time you're in Wellington when they're sitting. It's more fun than Te Papa and question time is better than TV.

I last went during Helen Clark's first term. Winston was in the house and was cracking off-mic one-liners like an inappropriate uncle at Christmas lunch. I thought I heard him say the words 'lesbian bar'.

Not the sort of thing you'd hear on the Super Bowl, or indeed on Downton Abbey.

Ah yes, Downton Abbey. Part two of that Christmas pudding special is on this week (Wednesday, Prime, 8.30pm). Yes I'm still watching, sad I know, but Maggie Smith is my replacement for Blanche from Coronation Street.


For some reason I need a mean-spirited and occasionally racist old bag in my life.

If like me you can't wait to see Bates get hung by neck then you'll like this. It's from SNL.

These Downton Abbey specials pulled in a huge audience in the UK at Christmas, the Super Bowl pulled slightly more, peaking at about 114 million.

An inverse to almost everything else on television, the ad breaks are actually the best bits. There's the controversial 'pro Obama' spot featuring Clint Eastwood and this one that won it's creator, an amateur, a cool $1 million as part of a competition.

There's a bunch of them here, you can even watch Jerry Seinfeld sell his soul.