According to the Hollywood Reporter, arbitration papers filed Friday are in response to the NFL’s effort to penalize M.I.A. for extending her middle finger when she shared the stage with Madonna during the Material Girl’s performance of “Give Me All Your Luvin’ ” for Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5, 2012.
Although the league didn’t pay the Sri Lankan singer/rapper for her performance, the NFL has secretly pursued M.I.A. for arbitration following the event, THR reports. The NFL spent the first two years of arbitration demanding $1.5 million for M.I.A. allegedly breaching her performance contract and tarnishing the league’s goodwill and reputation.
An additional claim was later added by the NFL, seeking $15.1 million more in “restitution” as the alleged value of public exposure M.I.A. received by appearing for an approximately two minute segment during Madonna’s performance. M.I.A.’s response papers, which were filed on Friday, state the figure is based on what advertisers would have paid for ads during this time.
The arbitration papers mark the latest chapter in M.I.A.’s lawyer, Howard King’s efforts to counter the NFL’s claims of its reputation being damaged by highlighting the “profane, bawdy, lascivious, demeaning and/or unacceptable behavior by its players, team owners, coaching and management personnel and by performers chosen and endorsed by NFL to perform in its halftime shows.”
To back up his counter claims, King cites Michael Jackson’s crotch-grabbing performance at the 1993 Super Bowl halftime as well as Prince’s handling of his guitar during his 2007 Super Bowl halftime show.
“During part of his performance, he was illuminated against the backdrop of a billowing sheet of fabric to project a huge shadow of himself,” M.I.A.’s legal papers say. “His oversized shadow was shown caressing the neck of his stylized trademark guitar…as if stroking an erect oversized phallus in a manner reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix performances where he fondled his guitar’s neck. Discovery is expected to confirm that NFL knew in advance exactly what would be presented, from pre-game rehearsal and from the stage set configuration,” the papers said about Prince’s appearance at the event while also taking Madonna’s 2012 Super Bowl set into account. “The Show prominently features scenes of very young women dancers (possibly not even of adult age) poised in reclining positions, with their feet and hands and/or shoulders planted on the ground behind them. The women lewdly thrust their elevated pelvic areas in a manner unmistakably evocative of sexual acts (very probably qualifying as ‘indecent’ under the FCC definition), or at the very least, in a manner wholly consistent with the scenes a faire in a strip club.”
To read M.I.A.’s arbitration papers, which mention the NFL’s recent proposal to assess a 15-yard penalty for use of the “N-Word,” among other recent incidents, click here.