Remember when M.I.A. flipped the bird at the Super Bowl halftime show? Yeah, it's sorta fuzzy for me, too. The NFL apparently does remember, and being that this is the NFL, the offense will not go unpunished.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that the league has been waging a secretive, bizarre lawsuit against M.I.A. It wants $1.5 million from the performer for extending a middle finger at an NBC camera. The NFL didn't pay M.I.A. for her halftime performance, but does claim that she violated her contract. THR reports:
The league and M.I.A's holding company entered into an agreement on January 30, 2012, a week before the big game that year. The contract stated 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" and that she "ensure that all elements of [her] Performance, including without limitation [her] wardrobe, shall be consistent with such goodwill and reputation."
The NFL makes the argument that she intentionally breached the agreement with her gesture and says that if there's any doubts about her obligations under the contract, "M.I.A., as a member of the public and a noted member of the music entertainment industry, was unquestionably aware of the adverse consequences sustained by the NFL, and the public outcry provoked, by the Janet Jackson 'wardrobe malfunction' during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXVIII."
M.I.A.—who has her own well-earned self-promotional reputation—is planning to make this as public as possible. Her lawyer told THR that the "NFL's claimed reputation for wholesomeness is hilarious," tantalizingly, because "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."
This should be fun. According to her lawyer, neither NBC nor the FCC had any issue with M.I.A. flipping the bird. Just Roger Goodell. As of last week, the league was continuing its pursuit of money—which a spokesman says will be donated to charity—and M.I.A.'s lawyer was "planning an all-out assault on the NFL's claims of being a brand devoted to high morals." Hopefully there will be much more of this to come.