In recent years, the awkward intersection of the NFL and traditional entertainment -- the Super Bowl halftime show -- has given us nipplegate, a phallic guitar, and an extreme close-up of Bruce Springsteen’s crotch. So when M.I.A. flipped off the camera during the 2012 halftime show (she appeared alongside Madonna), most people quickly forgot about it, relieved that the latest benign scandal didn’t involve someone’s junk.
Not the NFL. According to a story published yesterday by The Hollywood Reporter, the NFL has been waging a secret legal battle with M.I.A. over the past 18-months to recover $1.5 million dollars for violating her contract and the “reputation for wholesomeness enjoyed by the NFL."
Taking a PR flamethrower to a legal fight that was being waged in private, M.I.A.’s lawyer Howard King told THR that they’re turning the tables on the league by spotlighting the resources being poured into the lawsuit “while ignoring the genocide occurring in her home country and several other countries, topics she frequently speaks to.” So instead of championship banners, the NFL should be putting up signs about Sri Lankan genocide at it’s games, we suppose.
Still, the idea that the world’s most profitable sports league would attempt to recoup a relatively measly $1.5 million -- which “would have been donated to charity” according to an NFL spokesman -- on the grounds that her performance was “in flagrant disregard for the values that form the cornerstone of the NFL brand and the Super Bowl” is kind of absurd. Speaking of absurd…
“The NFL's claimed reputation for wholesomeness is hilarious," King told THR, "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."
Boy, that sure is some brash language coming from the lawyer of an artist known for some brash behavior, such as the time she flipped off the camera at the Super Bowl. Anything else to add, Mr. Loaded Language Lawyer?
"Until now, we had reluctantly remained quiet in the hopes of not becoming subject to the whims of 28 rich NFL owners who wanted to crush this brown, outspoken young lady, especially since they are making her life miserable for the cost of a 30-second spot in one of this weekend's secondary games. But ultimately, we could not be forced into the type of public apology demanded by the NFL."
Way to stand up for your principals (and also your reputation as edgy and unapologetic), M.I.A.!