In a video released yesterday, M.I.A. spoke her mind regarding the National Football League's lawsuit over last year's Super Bowl-middle finger incident. During the 2012 Super Bowl's half-time show, in which M.I.A. performed with Madonna and Nicki Minaj, the English-Sri Lankan artist flipped the camera off for a second. The NFL's response was to sue her, as well as to demand a public apology. "[The lawsuit] is a massive waste of time, a massive waste of money," M.I.A. said in the video. "Just powerful corporation dick-shaking."
Powerful corporation dick-shaking, indeed. The lawsuit which NFL has slapped on M.I.A. is for a whopping $1.5 million. All in the name of protecting "the values that form the cornerstone of the NFL brand and the Super Bowl," according to legal documents obtained by the Hollywood Reporter. "Of course, the NFL's claimed reputation for wholesomeness is hilarious," M.I.A.'s lawyer Howard King said. "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"
M.I.A. got at something similar in her video statement: how come her middle finger is more offensive than the row of cheerleaders that flanked her? The girls were "all under 16, wearing cheerleader outfits, hips thrusted in the air, legs wide open," assuming "sexually provocative" positions, she said. "Is my finger offensive," she asked, "or is an underage black girl with her legs wide open more offensive to the family audience?"
While I think shaming the young cheerleaders is a poorly thought out argument by M.I.A., the NFL's behavior is just pure ridiculous. The league's executives are on some high horses, and need to step down, stop bullying artists, and realize that "family values" are ever-changing. If viewers are offended by musical performances on television, then let them rage. Debate over cultural expression is healthy. Besides, is a flipped bird even offensive anymore? Have we traveled back in time to the press tour for the Marshall Mathers LP
Anyway, maybe this controversy can draw some publicity to M.I.A.'s upcoming album release. Matangi
is out November 5 and judging by the first single, "Come Walk With Me," it will be great. The album artwork was revealed today and looks, as usual with M.I.A., like psychedelic, South-East Asian kitsch.