Anyone who’s listened to M.I.A. can’t help but get the impression that she’s the sort who’d shank you at a moment’s notice, and then maybe light a joint without so much as washing the blood from her hands. Her confrontational nature is, in part, why fans seem to love her. It’s likely also what compelled her to express herself with that most obscene of fingers (the middle, obviously) during Madonna’s 2012 Super Bowl Halftime Show—for which the NFL is suing the chanteuse for over $16 million.
As if any flipped bird incurring a multimillion dollar fine wasn’t silly enough, M.I.A. has filed a counterclaim, and the wording of the paperwork alone should make the NFL think twice about who they’re messing with. According to the singer, that simple hand gesture was a Disneyesque affair compared to the spectacle she saluted; Madonna’s dancers, whom the papers speculate were “not even of adult age,” engaged in something really worth the FCC’s ire—namely, that they “lewdly thrust their elevated pelvic areas in a manner unmistakably evocative of sexual acts.”
It’s hardly just Madonna’s menagerie of skanks M.I.A. is calling out. She references a 2007 Halftime performance by Prince during which the artist behaved “as if stroking an erect oversized phallus,” and cites Michael Jackson’s 1993 show, complete with Jacko’s notorious “genitalia adjustments.”
All of these “salacious” acts aside, M.I.A. contends that it’s the NFL’s own “profane, bawdy, lascivious, demeaning and/or unacceptable behavior by its players, team owners, coaching and management personnel and by performers chosen and endorsed by NFL to perform in its halftime shows” that have invited true shame upon the game.
So the National Football League takes M.I.A. to task over one middle finger—and what they get in return is one of the grandest “f yous” the singer could muster. We’d never be so bold as to criticize American football; we’re all very fond of our cheese hats and terrible towels and what have you. But honestly, NFL, consider backing down on this one while you can—we’re not sure this woman would blink twice before busting open kneecaps.