“Give Me All Your [Money]”: NFL Demands $15.1 Million From M.I.A. for Profane Displays At 2012 Super Bowl

170px-Mia20061200px-Super_Bowl_29_Vince_Lombardi_trophy_at_49ers_Family_Day_2009You may recall that we discussed the scene in the 2012 Super Bowl when pop star Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam (AKA M.I.A.) flipped the bird and sang “I don’t give a shit” while performing the song “Give Me All Your Luvin'” with Madonna. Personally, I did not like it, though I am often in the minority in objecting to inappropriate conduct at such events by players or performers. I thought it was immature and vulgar and inappropriate for the millions of kids watching the show. It was a lapse that occurred in a flash and was probably not noticed by many viewers. My kids however say it as did I. It was a stupid and thoughtless addition by M.I.A. to the show. It now appears that the National Football League (NFL) felt the same way and has not forgotten the violation. They are demanding compensation from M.I.A. and estimate the cost at $15.1 million in restitution.

As many of you know, I am not a fan of the NFL even though I am addicted to football (and God’s team, the Chicago Bears). From its abusive threats over the use of the term “Super Bowl” to its near fraudulent use of non-for-profit status to avoid taxers, the NFL is widely viewed as a thuggish, shameless corporate entity. I also find the $15.1 million demand a bit suspicious. They originally asked for $1.5 million, which strikes me as just about right. The increased amount appears a pressure tactic. The contract very likely included an express provision on such profane or disruptive displays — a standard part of entertainment contracts, particularly for live performances.

M.I.A. responded with a sense of victimization last fall but curiously felt the need to add profanity to her interview on the sanction for her earlier profanity: She denounced the effort as “a massive display of powerful corporation dick shaking. They want me on my knees and say sorry so they can slap me on my wrist.” Thanks for reminding me why it is so important to sanction you.

I feel no sympathy for M.I.A. She accepted the gig, which brings unparalleled exposure. The NFL (and most viewers) consider the Super Bowl one of the most shared events across cultural, political, racial, and economic lines. It is bad enough that families have had to abandon stadiums to drunks and thugs who use profane language and act violently. The NFL has strived (to their credit) to keep the game as a family oriented event. M.I.A. took this gig with that express understanding. She is a professional performer — and presumably an adult. If she cannot control her profanity, she needs to stay indoors in clubs where adolescents love that type of conduct. Without a heavy sanction, others will claim that same accidental slips of vulgar gestures and language. We are constantly making exceptions for players and performers in acting like fools and engaging in a race to the bottom in their public conduct. The result is that many find it now perfectly acceptable for adults to scream profanities or make obscene gestures. Indeed, it sometimes appears a calculated marketing move like the transformation of Miley Cyrus into a virtual public stripper. It may be too late to demand a modicum of personal restraint from athletes or performers, but some of us are not willing to give up on such minimal standards. Certainly the NFL has a right to expect performers to comply with their express commitment to avoid such displays as a condition for appearing at these events.

While I would not require the $15.1 million, I would impose the $1.5 million penalty. That would create a missing deterrent for future performers. If you do not trust yourself in public, do not accept the invitation. M.I.A. is supposedly an adult. Adults around the world have no trouble controlling themselves in public, even in public performances. Indeed, even minors have learned how to conduct themselves in public. M.I.A. clearly missed that life lesson in growing up and liability is designed to instill such belated standards in adolescent adults. Maybe then M.I.A. will “give a [damn].”

Source: Business Week

16 thoughts on ““Give Me All Your [Money]”: NFL Demands $15.1 Million From M.I.A. for Profane Displays At 2012 Super Bowl”

  1. Yeah, what a country, what a world we live in! Fine a performer $15M for profanity while government/corporaton mafias murder, torture, starve and enslave mostly inocent men, women and children! Its Profanity, thats ALL! Ban the performer on future gigs if needed but steal $15M for uncouth language!

  2. I have been watching football since before there was a Super Bowl. I have seen every Super Bowl; but, I can proudly state that I have never seen a Super Bowl halftime. Don’t plan on starting any time soon either.

  3. I worked on the “Give me all your luvin” music video that was recreated during the halftime show. Three long days, working with the 3 stars- I know the choreography very well. It was a very accurate recreation, including the gesture and lyrics by MIA. This gesture was high-lighted during the show, and much shock was feigned afterwards. Madonna in public comments even threw MIA under the bus. I must say MIA was a dear to work with, awkward and a bit shy. I also know that British mores differ from those in the US, particularly with regard to crudeness or sexuality portrayed in the media. I believe it is accurate to say that MIA had not the slightest idea that this would cause such controversy.

  4. I don’t think you understand that outside of the U.S., MIA is a bigger brand than the NFL.

    The NFL wants to show they’re edgy, but the truth is they want safe entertainment at the half time of a game in which grown men cripple themselves for life.

    I’m a former NFL fan. Word about the concussions leaked out in the early ’80s, then the NFL absolutely stifled that story for thirty years. The NFL needs to be fined several billion dollars for promoting an unsafe game.

  5. What Darren said….. And any money, if collected should be donated to high school players that are permanently injured because of football related issues…. After all they are nonprofit…..

  6. “a massive display of powerful corporation dick shaking. They want me on my knees and say sorry so they can slap me on my wrist.” Yep. They hired her knowing her act. They got what they paid for. Greedy bustards.

  7. Did your kids “say it” or perhaps see it?
    Morons do need to be encouraged to watch the commercial marathon but we need not denigrate morons by putting them as the lowest common denominator in our human race. BS will encourage a moron. At the same time high schools produce football players who go to colleges who put up with morons who can play football and we have colleges like the University North Carolina which hire morons out of high school who can not read and write so that they can play football and after six years they graduate with a degree in Pee Eee and still cannot read or write but they go out to the high schools to teach football. Or, they go to the NFL and play on TV while the morons watch the games and the pierced nipple and outrage.
    By the way Professor, what were you doing letting your kids watch that apCray? Meanwhile the British are coming. Wait for the outrage when they show that on tv.

  8. I really don’t follow the NFL, I follow college football. However, I have a tough time seeing how the NFL gets to $15 million. It sounds like they are going to litigate her into submission. Her best bet is to counter and go after their anti-trust status. She could sue as a class of all performers extorted into signing like contracts with the NFL across the country. I could foresee an interesting litigation. 🙂

  9. We have a culture that encourages the outrageous. The additional problem is that in order to be outrageous these semi-talented clowns need to do more and more ridiculous things. My guess is that secretly the NFL loves this sort of BS because it encourages morons to stay glued to every second of their commercial marathon in hopes of seeing a pierced nipple or outrage but still maintain plausible deniability. As long as the public plays along they will continue.

  10. Darren – after the nipple incident, I imagine they made sure every single contract had stuff about that in it.

  11. I wonder if the contract signed between the two have provisions to address this.

  12. Did the NFL suffer any damages by her expressing herself? Was their FCC fines or other damages? If not, then the NFL shouldn’t be able to demand $1. They are not her mother to make her put money in a swear jar.

  13. The NFL is a corporate thug and bully which extorts money from cities all over the country and laughs in our collective faces while enjoying all of the benefits of being a NONPROFIT. They hired MIA what did they expect.

    I occasionally watch the Super Bowl but I see nothing “family” oriented about very large men running at each other giving each other concussions. The NFL’s “fine” is ridiculous. Very little of the half time shows are “family” oriented although I seem to remember they have occasionally hired acts that are not salacious but on ballance when you hire MIA and they do something outrageous you really cannot complain. The NFL just doesn’t have enough money poor NFL? They got what they ordered. Enough already.

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