Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show

The feud between the NFL and M.I.A. is getting more heated and even more entertaining.

To recap the action so far: M.I.A. flipped off the camera during the Super Bowl halftime show in 2012. Less than two months later, the NFL filed with the American Arbitration Association demanding $1.5 million and a public apology from M.I.A., demands she refused to comply with. This private legal battle went public last September, nearly two years after the incident, when NFL lawyers moved to have M.I.A. “deemed liable” for her actions before moving to trial for damages and called her middle finger an “offensive gesture… in flagrant disregard for the values that form the cornerstone of the NFL brand and the Super Bowl.” The league also argued that before her performance M.I.A. signed an agreement to put on a wholesome show that involved no “wardrobe malfunctions.” In response, M.I.A.’s lawyer, Howard King, responded by arguing that the NFL shouldn’t make a big flap about something so minor while ignoring real atrocities like the genocide occurring in M.I.A.’s home country of Sri Lanka. King also ridiculed the NFL’s suggestion that it’s a bulwark of family values: “Of course, the NFL’s claimed reputation for wholesomeness is hilarious in light of the weekly felonies committed by its stars, the bounties placed by coaches on opposing players, the homophobic and racist comments uttered by its players, the complete disregard for the health of players and the premature deaths that have resulted from same, and the raping of public entities ready to sacrifice public funds to attract teams.” Got all that? Here’s the latest:

According to a new report from The Hollywood Reporter, the league is now seeking a whopping $16.6 million from M.I.A. in “restitution,” arguing that $15 million represents the value of the exposure she gained during her two-minute segment on stage with Madonna. According to THR, “The figure is based on what advertisers would have paid for ads during this time.” In other words, the NFL wants to charge one of its halftime entertainers, who performed free of charge, for advertising time! It’s a claim that “lacks any basis in law, fact, or logic,” according to the response papers M.I.A. filed Friday.

King is fighting the charges by compiling a juicy stack of evidence against the NFL’s claims of wholesomeness. He’s even set up an email address for submissions of questionable NFL-related antics — — intended to, ahem, “balance the playing field.” The new arbitration papers he filed on behalf of M.I.A. decry the “profane, bawdy, lascivious, demeaning and/or unacceptable behavior by its players, team owners, coaching and management personnel and by performers chosen and endorsed by NFL to perform in its halftime shows.” The paper cites Michael Jackson’s crotch-grabbing, Prince’s phallic guitar-fondling, and Madonna’s performance full of potentially underage women on their backs thrusting their pelvises skyward, stopping just short of accusing the NFL of broadcasting child porn. In addition to halftime lewdness, King puts M.I.A.’s middle finger in the context of the Richie Incognito bullying scandal, a judge’s rejection of the NFL’s proposed $765 million settlement for concussions, and a recent proposal to institute a 15-yard penalty for uttering the “N-word.” King’s papers also argue that the NFL should instead be suing NBC, which broadcasted the game, for failing to implement a five-second delay.

See? Very entertaining! Really hoping the NFL finds some preposterous way to escalate this. In the meantime, here’s the legal paperwork M.I.A. tweeted this afternoon:

[Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage.]

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Comments (8)
  1. First, LOL at the NFL. Yes, a veritable bastion of moral fiber whose honor is worth 15 million dollars. Nevermind the drinking game based around how many f-bombs you can see mouthed in slow motion every time there’s a turn over.

    Second, take it easy MIA. If you’re SO mortified by the NFL on a moral basis, don’t play their show.

    These two sides can eat each other.

  2. This “moral high ground” coming from an organization that employs murders, rapists, wife beaters, dog killers, homophobes, drug dealers, and drug users.

  3. So they want to garnish 50% of her earnings over $500,000?? Does homegirl even make close to that in any given year??? Is it possible she could get off scott free by signing that and then never actually having to pay b/c she doesn’t make enough?

    • Isnt she married to Edgar Bronfman’s son? The heir to the Segrems fortune who also owned Universal for a little bit. Homegirl married up.

      • They split in 2012, but they have a kid together. Her quote on the wikipedia page is cringeworthy:

        “I think it’s weird. It’s not that I got with Ben and then suddenly I was a billionaire. You know? I got with Ben, and I realized that we do come from different worlds, but it’s interesting that it is more about the concepts of elitism and power.”

        I don’t have the slightest issue with pop artists who focus a lot of energy and speech on philanthropy. I just think the attitude of the snarling deconstructionist clashes with the pop artist’s complicit place in a wasteful culture. Our issues have complex overlaps of the philosophic, existential and practical, and we all participate in the problems in varying degrees, and I think that should discipline our tone. But in her case, when railing against western socio-economic problems, don’t act all superior and socially-enlighteneder-than-thou when you’re on camera AT THE SUPERBOWL SINGING POP SONGS.

  4. lets not forget that the NFL is a “non-profit” too.

  5. The NFL should be suing Duke Energy for poisoning the drinking water of all the Carolina Panthers fans. That would be more “wholesome” and “family friendly.”

    Just out of curiosity, how much would player be fined for punching someone in the face – on camera – after a play?

  6. $15mill?! Lol! From one of the most violent sports on the planet, and they want $15mill for someone flipping the bird?! Sure, lets go ahead and sue all the foulmouthed drunk fans that finger the players on field and lets sue the players while were at it for all the nice words they have to say too. You fail NFL *smh*

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