The NFL announced today that they have settled on a number that they feel is appropriate restitution for what happened during Super Bowl XLVI’s halftime show. In September it was released that after MIA gave the middle finger during the halftime show the NFL was planning to sue her for $1.6 million because they received over 222 complaints to the FCC. Today that number increased as the NFL reissued their amount and MIA is now being sued for $16.6 million.
The event at the halftime show came during Madona’s set. Madona was dancing around the stage, the crowd was enjoying the show, there were many background dancers, flashing lights and choreographed dance moves. Then, MIA came out on stage, starting rapping and gave the middle finger to the audience at the end of her song and mouthed profanities to the audience. The whole act was caught on camera and broadcast to every home watching the Super Bowl in America, and around the world. She was given no compensation for the performance (as is customary) and was on stage a grand total of two minutes, but the NFL feels that $16.6 million is an acceptable amount.
The number the NFL is asking for is not arbitrary. According to league sources, the original amount of $1.6 million was for violation of her contract, which stated that she was not to disobey the guidelines set out by the NFL and not make the league look bad as a whole. The additional $15 million comes from what the NFL says, equals to the amount advertisers would have paid for two minutes of air time. Almost like MIA is being sued for $16.6 million because the NFL feels it could have made that much money if her entire act was cut out and they instead aired a commercial. But this isn’t the first time a performer at the half time show has done something viewers might find offensive. MIA’s attorneys are bringing these examples to the forefront. Janet Jackson is an example that everyone knows. During the 1993 Super Bowl half time show Michael Jackson was on stage and performed his signature move where he grabs his crotch. Prince was the half time performer in 2007 and many believed he was simulating the act of masturbation on his guitar, something Jimmy Hendrix has done (though not at a half time show).
The attorneys for the rapper are also citing that the NFL and NBC are to blame because they have a five second delay during the Super Bowl. That should be enough time for them to see what happens and not show the incident. Instead, they kept the shot and the world saw. The moment MIA gave the finger was very brief too. It was at the end of her song and after she flipped the bird the camera immediately cut to an overhead angle; an angle they could have cut to with the five second delay and mitigated the amount of people who could make out what she was doing.
MIA also took to Twitter, expressing her displeasure with the whole situation and explained to her fans why she was being unfairly sued by the NFL for the $16.6 million. Part of her objective is to show that the NFL is using bullying tactics to get what they want. The NFL has a long history of being very conservative and doling out fines to players and personal in a very strict manner. The situation with MIA is no different. The NFL is a large powerful company that will use its size to its advantage. This suit does have a different feel for the NFL, as she is not a player with definitive rules that must be adhered to, so this ongoing saga could only just be starting.
Commentary by Chris Dragicevich