The NFL has reportedly been waging a secret legal battle with M.I.A. over the rapper’s Super Bowl swear fest. For those who (understandably) might not remember, while performing during the 2012 Super Bowl halftime show with Madonna, M.I.A. both gave the camera the middle finger and visibly mouthed the words, “I don’t give a shit” during “Give Me All Your Luvin’.” While the British rapper (again, understandably) thinks it’s bullshit that this was a big deal, the NFL doesn’t, secretly entering into arbitration against the rapper in March of 2012. And the league is still seeking $1.5 million from M.I.A. for allegedly breaching her performance contract, while also tarnishing the innocent reputation of a game based around grown men violently hitting each other.
While M.I.A. wasn’t actually paid for the performance—the exposure is believed to be payment enough—she did have to enter into an agreement before the game acknowledging “the great value of the goodwill associated with the NFL and the tremendous public respect and reputation for wholesomeness enjoyed by the NFL.” Furthermore, her contract stated that “all elements of [her] performance, including without limitation [her] wardrobe, shall be consistent with such goodwill and reputation.”
M.I.A. and her lawyers have been fighting the lawsuit throughout the 18 months since it was filed, and just last week, NFL owners pushed to have the case moved to public trial, where they would, they hoped, finally be awarded damages. Unsurprisingly, this hasn’t sat well with M.I.A. and her lawyer, Howard King, who says the rapper will soon come out with a public statement about how ridiculous she thinks it all is.
As King told The Hollywood Reporter, M.I.A.—in typical M.I.A. fashion—is mad that the NFL and its fans have devoted time to this incident “while ignoring the genocide occurring in her home country and several other countries, topics she frequently speaks to." She also finds it stupid that neither the FCC nor NBC seem to care, yet somehow the NFL does. Quoth King again: “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.”
In the NFL’s defense, the league says it would donate the $1.5 million fine to charity, though probably not one that would garner M.I.A.'s approval.