Controversy surrounded the Sri-Lankan singer-rapper M.I.A. when, during her Super Bowl performance on February 5, 2012, she gave the middle finger at the camera.
Two years later, and the NFL is now demanding $16.6 million for “allegedly breaching her performance contract and tarnishing its goodwill and reputation.”
Filed on Friday, M.I.A.’s response papers argue that the league is trying to make an example of her, despite “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.”
The papers refers to Michael Jackson’s 1993 Super Bowl halftime performance of “Billie Jean” in which he grabs his genitalia, and to Prince’s 2007 performance: “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.”
M.I.A.’s legal papers observe that “NFL knew in advance exactly what would be presented, from pre-game rehearsal and from the stage set configuration.”
Fingers also get pointed at NBC’s broadcast of the event.
“NFL, and NBC, failed to exercise ordinary care in the conduct of the Halftime show by not activating the ‘5 second delay’ system in place for the broadcast,” said M.I.A.’s papers.