Two years ago, M.I.A. took part in the Super Bowl halftime show headlined by Madonna and introduced herself to a wider audience by flipping off the cameras. You probably haven’t given a great deal of thought to that brief bit of profanity in the years since, unless of course middle fingers on your TV cause your face to explode in outrage. In that case, I hope the face rebuilding process has gone smoothly.
Either way, the NFL has not forgotten this ghastly example of shield besmirching. The league has been spending the last two years seeking millions from the singer, claiming her act did irreparable harm to the good name of professional FOOTBAW. In fact, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the NFL recently increased its demands by, oh, $15 million.
M.I.A. wasn’t paid for the event as is the custom of the league. Nevertheless, the NFL spent the first two years of arbitration demanding $1.5 million for allegedly breaching her performance contract and tarnishing its goodwill and reputation.
Now the NFL has added an additional claim, seeking $15.1 million more in “restitution” as the alleged value of public exposure she received by appearing for an approximately two minute segment during Madonna’s performance. The figure is based on what advertisers would have paid for ads during this time. “The claim for restitution lacks any basis in law, fact, or logic,” say M.I.A.’s response papers, filed on Friday.
M.I.A.’s attorney has been fighting the claim by filing arbitration papers that detail some of the less than wholesome history of the hallowed institution that is the Super Bowl halftime show, including the time they made it look like Prince was stroking his guitar as if it were a big, musical dong.
To show that the NFL’s moral authority is somewhat less than absolute, M.I.A.’s attorney has also brought up a few other unfortunate things from recent NFL history that more closely pertain to the sport, including the Dolphins bullying scandal, the proposal the penalize uses of the N-word on the field, and that whole messy concussion lawsuit settlement that isn’t entirely resolved.
Should those tacks fail, the attorney, Howard King, is prepared to fault NBC for failing to use a five-second delay to prevent his client’s flipped bird from reaching the airwaves, which might make sense after the whole Janet Jackson scandal from a decade before. Either way, the fight rages on and the NFL won’t be satisfied until someone is made to pay for a performer subverting their precious halftime show with a little filth flarn filth.