For those of you with a long memory, you may remember when rapper M.I.A. flipped the middle finger and mouthed “I don’t give a sh–“ during her Super Bowl XLVI halftime performance with Madonna.
Yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that the NFL has been engaged in a lawsuit with the rapper for the last 18 months.
Apparently, the NFL is seeking 1.5 million in damages and a public apology from M.I.A. for breaching her performance contract.
If you’re wondering what was in her performance contract exactly, it states that she “acknowledge the great value of the goodwill associated with the NFL and the tremendous public respect and reputation for wholesomeness enjoyed by the NFL … “
This isn’t a money issue, at least not overtly. M.I.A. was not paid for her performance.
The NFL generally considers the insane exposure from performing during the most watched event in the U.S. to be payment enough.
The contract goes on to state that “all elements of [her] performance, including without limitation [her] wardrobe, shall be consistent with such good will and reputation.” That being the key clause here, it’s obvious that the NFL is trying to prevent another Janet Jackson “Nipplegate” fiasco.
Too bad, that M.I.A. “obscene gesture” was so fleeting that if you didn’t DVR it and rewind, you probably didn’t even catch it.
Charles Ortner, the NFL’s lawyer for the case, has said that M.I.A. has not acted in “good faith” since the performance.
In addition to her failure to take action toward resolving the suit, the rapper has used video clips of her Super bowl performance for promotion and “refused to take responsibility for her actions which were broadcast worldwide.”
M.I.A. Is known for her outspoken image. She has spoken out repeatedly on human rights abuses, against censorship, and in favour of Wikileaks and Julian Assange. She’s not a fan of cowing to the powers that be.
Even so, she did apologise and take responsibility for the middle finger when it first happened (sort of). Just a few days after the performance, a source close to the rapper told The Los Angeles Times that the gesture was the result of “adrenaline.”
“She wasn’t thinking,” the source said. “It wasn’t any kind of statement. She was caught in the moment and she’s incredibly sorry.”
Add in the fact that NBC, which aired the Superbowl that year, and the FCC, in charge of dishing out punishments for obscene gestures, both haven’t blinked an eye at the case and the NFL is starting to look pretty ridiculous.
M.I.A. and her lawyer are now taking the suit to the court of public opinion.
“She is going to go public with an explanation of how ridiculous it was for the NFL and its fans to devote such furor to this incident, while ignoring the genocide occurring in her home country and several other countries, topics she frequently speaks to,” M.I.A.’s lawyer Howard King told The Hollywood Reporter.
M.I.A. isn’t finished yet: “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,” King said.
King might have a point. Just in the last two years, the NFL has paid $US765 million to former players over a concussion suit, uncovered a NFL team that paid its players to try to injure opponents, and found out one of its star players is probably responsible for multiple murders.
That being said, M.I.A. and King may have overestimated how many Americans are looking to knock America’s most watched sports league down a peg. King has begun to openly solicit submissions from any people that can provide examples of how the actions of the NFL and anyone associated with the league have “destroyed any vestiges of any reputation for wholesomeness every enjoyed by the NFL.”
You can submit to the defence by sending an email to [email protected].
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