The performance M.I.A. delivered, at the 2012 Super Bowl XLVI halftime show, in which she flashed her middle finger, has left the NFL seeking amends from her, ever since. Now that punishment comes to the tune of $16.6 million in restitution from the singer, but M.I.A.’s attorneys are fighting hard to counteract it.
During the Feb. 5, 2012 performance, M.I.A. joined Madonna and Nicki Minaj for “Give Me All Your Luvin’, ” and was only involved for about two minutes of the segment. According to The Hollywood Reporter, this was broadcast to nearly 167 million television households, however. And so the NFL reacted by pursuing $1.5 million from the Sri Lankan performer for allegedly breaching her performance contract and tarnishing the football program’s goodwill and reputation.
The League has now filed an additional claim that demands $15.1 million more from M.I.A., an amount equivalent to what they could have made in ad sales for that two-minute period. Papers filed by M.I.A.’s legal team last Friday bluntly respond by saying: “The claim for restitution lacks any basis in law, fact, or logic.”
Her team, led by attorney Howard King, also seeks to point out instances of lewd behavior during other halftime shows, as well as in the NFL, itself. M.I.A.’s arbitration papers bring up Michael Jackson’s genitalia-grabbing during his 1993 performance of “Billie Jean” at the Super Bowl, as well as Prince’s guitar stroking when he played the 2007 halftime. The papers even recall the rest of Madonna’s performance in 2012, in which women of undisclosed ages thrust their pelvic areas in a sexual way.
Also argued in the arbitration papers are the NFL’s recent proposal to hand down 15-yard penalties when players use the N-word, and the scandal that involved player Richie Incognito’s bullying of a teammate. In addition, the papers say it is “implausible” any fine will be delivered, citing years of regulatory inaction and recent decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Considering the difficulty M.I.A. has faced in her recent departure from Jay Z’s Roc Nation, as well as the disagreement she had with Interscope Records last fall, it will be a great boost if she’s able to overcome these problems with the NFL.
Things at least look positive in the meantime, as M.I.A. continues supporting last year’s Matangi, and is set to take over the festival circuit this spring and summer, performing at such fests as Sasquatch! and Ultra Music Festival.