M.I.A. says middle finger performance was tame after NFL demands $16.6 million

The singer was initially sued for $1.5 million for "breaching her performance contract and tarnishing its goodwill and reputation."
By Veronica Linares  |  March 17, 2014 at 3:12 PM
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The NFL has added $15.1 million to the fee it expects to charge British singer M.I.A. for flashing her middle finger to the camera while performing live with Madonna at Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5, 2012.

Initially the NFL was suing the singer for $1.5 million for "breaching her performance contract and tarnishing its goodwill and reputation."

M.I.A. was not paid for her performance at the sporting event -- as it is accustomed -- but now, the NFL expects her to pay a total of $16.6 million with the extra $15.1 million accounting for "restitution." The figure is based in the amount of money advertisers would have paid to purchas the air time she occupied during her performance of "Give Me All Your Luvin" with Madonna.

"The claim for restitution lacks any basis in law, fact, or logic," say M.I.A.'s response papers, filed on Friday.

The singer is arguing that her middle finger extension was tame in comparison to other NFL-aproved performances. The papers cite Prince's 2007 performance where his extended shadow "was shown caressing the neck of his stylized trademark guitar…as if stroking an erect oversized phallus" and Michael Jackson's 1993 show, in which he "repeatedly grabbed or fondled his genitalia."

The documents also point out that Madonna's performance included "women [who] 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."

M.I.A. documents also accuse the NFL and NBC of failing to "exercise ordinary care in the conduct of the Halftime show by not activating the '5 second delay' system in place for the broadcast."

You can read the full complaint here and watch a video of the performance below. (M.I.A.'s gesture takes place at the 1:57 mark.)

[Hollywood Reporter]

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