You may or may not know who M.I.A. is. However you do know who the NFL is and what they represent, of course they represent (wait for it) "wholesomeness". This is the self-proclaimed platform of the NFL in their lawsuit against singer M.I.A. for her flip of the middle finger during the halftime Super Bowl performance on February 5, 2012.
The NFL is pursuing a fine of $1.5 million dollars (in conjunction with a public apology) from the opinionated singer; a fine that the FCC and NBC decided not to pursue. The NFL did file back in March of 2012 but many of the details are just being uncovered as I found this information on Pitchfork approximately a week ago. The NFL reportedly stated the gesture was "in flagrant disregard for the values that form the cornerstone of the NFL brand and the Super Bowl."
These select details are interesting by themselves, but even more intriguing is that M.I.A. and her lawyer are planning "an all out assault on the NFL's claims of being a brand devoted to high morals" says The Hollywood Reporter. M.I.A. actually states in a video where she appears to be talking on the phone and to the viewer at the same time - perhaps a very heady two birds with one stone play - that while she flips up her finger simultaneously there are high school girls on stage with their legs open, pelvis in the air. There is even an email address that supporters of M.I.A.'s cause can email with examples of the NFL's disregard for wholesomeness.
Let's start with this, M.I.A. certainly displayed a universally offensive gesture and this could also be interpreted as a breach of contract to uphold elements of wholesomeness. However now we need to surmise why the NFL is so staunch on getting the equivalent of Eric Decker's salary out of this woman. The two main entities who would generally enforce something like this have so far been silent on the issue, which is a verbal "we don't really care". My memory isn't the greatest but I don't remember much backlash (if any) when the incident happened, in fact I didn't even remember the incident. The NFL is claiming that this damages their brand, more specifically the brand of wholesomeness (this is a word you get tired of typing quickly)? Just a little more than a week ago I heard a player in the CBS broadcast of Broncos vs. Giants game tell another player very audibly "I will mother f'n kill your a**!", and let me tell you, that ain't wholesome. It's very hard to claim you're a frog when you're quacking like a duck.
The NFL has gotten so good at being duplicitous it's mind-blowing. It's the most lucrative example of a for-profit business but yet they operate under the non-profit exemption of a 501(c)(6), which means exactly what you think it means. NFL employees aren't even charged tax when they stay in hotels for the Super Bowl. They claim the league does not operate for profit but the teams do. If one of the intelligent readers can clarify how that makes sense it would be greatly appreciated. The NFL also claims it cares about concussions and is doing everything they can to curtail them, but yet the NFL does not have blood testing to find HGH and other performance enhancers that players use to become bigger and faster thus causing even more jarring hits at higher speeds.
To see the NFL go after M.I.A. isn't necessarily shocking since they have such a history of showing face, but it's hard to imagine whey they're out for blood with this one. I would never condone giving the finger but as you can see in the video it was quite brief (and actually went with the lyrics) sometimes you bring attention to the offense by making all the fuss about it. I'm curious to see what M.I.A. presents and how the NFL reacts, I have a feeling this may not be over anytime soon.
Performance video below: