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M.I.A.'s "Born Free" Gratuitously Violent, Yet Still Boring

The new M.I.A. video has stirred up some understandable controversy. Her political leanings come from what has happened in Sri Lanka’s civil war. She was born in the United Kingdom and then moved to Sri Lanka where her father became part of a group that was fighting the government. M.I.A., of course, means Missing In Action--really creative. She says her music is “other”. Yeah, ok, other. Really? It’s like those people that state they are not into labels and how stupid they are…oh wait you just labeled yourself, thanks for playing. I can’t stand when people think they are so unique that there’s no one out there like them and that THEY, specifically, are not a sheep. They think if they are lumped in with others, that takes their identity away. No it does not. What it does is show who you are.

It’s like Siobhan Magnus on American Idol stating how she has been praised by letters from fans telling her they love how she’s a strong woman. What the hell does that even mean? I thought women fought for equality and whatever… but there’s still a need for “strong women”? Shouldn’t you be pleased that someone’s a strong person? That is, unless, women and men are not equal then you can go on and state “thanks for being a strong woman”. It’s like stating, “Thanks for being a strong black man” or whatever color you want to tack on to that. Or stating things like, “illegals are so hardworking” - really? You mean to say that no one else is hardworking? They are the only hardworking people in all the universe? You’re not a victim just because you staple it to your face. I could so go on and on and on and on, but I won‘t.

There is all kinds of information on her Wikipedia page. But the most interesting thing is the last paragraph, which reads:

MIA's controversial video for new song 'Born Free' has been removed from YouTube. Directed by Romain Gavras, it features nudity, graphic violence and a plot where redheaded adolescents are rounded up into an armour-protected van, driven to the country and either shot or made to run through a minefield. Although the clip initially appeared on YouTube, it has now been removed, with a spokesperson from the site reiterating their policy on the content of videos it hosts to BBC Newsbeat."On YouTube the rules prohibit content like pornography or gratuitous violence," the spokesperson said. "If the content breaks our terms then we remove it and if a user repeatedly breaks the rules we disable their account." The 12 year-old child who appears in MIA's 'Born Free' video has defended the controversial clip, which was recently removed from YouTube due to its graphic content. Hamrick, whose character in the film dies after being shot in the head, defended MIA, saying she was trying to highlight violence in order to end it.

Yes, it was removed from YouTube. My friend in Norway sent the link to me to watch and I watched the first minute. Grew tired of its boring display of mistreatment and I stopped watching it. But then he insisted that I needed to watch it all. So I went back and it was gone. I found the above link and watched it from there. Though I was shocked by the use of red heads (or as they say in the UK, Gingers--they are mistreated there for some stupid reason) as an example of round-up-mistreatment, I wasn’t really impressed overall…especially the loud stuff that played behind the video that some would label as music. I’d just label it “other“.

The fascinating part about the paragraph is that the little child who got shot in the head, and then fake blood sprayed out of the side of his head, stated that she used violence to show how terrible violence was. Really? Sorry he said her intent was, “trying to highlight violence to end violence.” That sounds like if someone gets raped that they’ll understand how terrible raping is. Yeah, cause we all need to be raped to understand how being forced to do something is not fun. Showing violence in order to remove it is stupid. You don’t show what you don’t like. I don’t like racism but I’ll invite a racist on my show so I can show everyone what a racist is like. I’m not bad for giving him a platform for displaying his hate. Nope. I’m showing how it’s terrible to be racist by giving racism a megaphone. Don’t like violence, then don’t highlight. It’s that easy. It’s not that you’ll be ignoring it, but you’ll be attacking it from a different angle.

The following video is "How to Save a Life" by The Fray. If you can handle NOT seeing suicide and understand the video's suggestion, then you may watch. Otherwise be warned that there's no actual suicide or reason that this video would be graphic, sorry to disappoint.

Do you know why “How To Save a Life” by the Fray worked so well? That video was so powerful. Why? Because it did not show people committing suicide, they alluded to it and showed the reactions of those that love them. It’s an emotional video without showing a single suicide. Less is always more. When I see movies or read books, suggesting that sex occurred is almost always better (except for Underworld 2 -- that scene was the best sex scene ever) than showing it. Ninety-Nine Percent of the time sex has no need to exist in movies that are not porn. M.I.A. and her whacked out director decided more is better. The more is all I can focus on. Screw the message, it’s the packaging that people will talk about. The message is lost in the mire that surrounds it. Great way to get the message out. Make the messenger strip naked and speak. I’m sure whatever comes out of her mouth the men will remember far more than how supple her boobs are or how she decided to trim herself.

I saw where that video was going. I think that it would have been far more powerful, effective and likable if she used the United Nations as the flag on the men‘s shoulders instead of the United States. Or she could have used a lot of national flags from all over. Specifically showing the United States was not a mistake. I thought that, but when I read her Wikipedia page and it showed her quote about the United States lumping all revolutionary people into terrorist category, I knew she specifically wanted to target the United States. The United States has lots and lots of flaws. I’m not stating that the men couldn’t represent the United States. I don’t see anything wrong with the use of the flag, but if her intention was to get people to realize that there is violence the world over and that many people (including the US) perpetuate it--she failed. Because she decided to allow her dislike to show and that’s always a mistake when trying to get a message out to a broad group of people. The way to get a lot of people talking about the message would have been to put several flags into view, including America’s. Also why were there no women who were in this video other than the naked one? Why were there no women who were the ‘attackers’ or the ‘attacked’? Why only men? There was so much that could have been done with this video that it’s just disappointing to watch when I realized that. It’s 9 minutes long with vast spans of NOTHING happening. It could have been a quick 9 minutes that got people talking about how fantastic it was. Now people will talk about how it uses Americans as bad, the red heads as the innocent lives, blood sport at the end and some boob and little penis. If you’re going to make something shocking it would be great if there was a message that would be remembered outside of the shock. Just sayin‘… (I hate that phrase--so it’s done in a mock tone.)

I liked the odd choice of red heads, though. I thought that was fantastic. I also liked that there was a different race outside of white in the video. I saw a black man as one of the attackers. I’m pretty sure if this was an all white video that the black community would be A-OKAY with that. They wouldn’t be asking for diversity in that video, because black people can’t be that mean, only white people can. Just ask

Had she specifically attacked (by using their flag) another country like Germany, that wouldn’t have been good because of Nazi references and they do not take kindly to such reminders. Use China and you’d get a billion people hating her. Norway would be weird and no one would get it and laugh it off. Iran would send death threats. America was the safe choice, because they have the ability to withstand jabs like that and move on, but it was also the weaker choice. For someone that likes to share strong political opinions in her music, this was not even close to a strong video message.

I do not think that her portrayal of America is at all wrong (because I’m pretty sure that America could be like this again…they did it once with the Japanese). I think that she missed a fantastic opportunity to get the entire world thinking, instead of just having them nod their heads when they see the American flag on display like a finger pointing the blame. This is a “Yeah that’s so America and so not (insert country of where one lives here).”

She could have even used religious symbols on the shoulders that would allude to the Nazi arm bands. I’m telling you…there was so much variety that could have went into this. So much that could have been said and used and done that would have made this a viral video for the ages. The safe flop that was created, is nothing more than a boring 9 minute video I’ll never, ever watch again. Nor will I talk about it with anyone and tell them about it. I just can’t be the reason someone is bored for 9 minutes straight. (Excluding this blog…double meaning, I know.)

Music can be thought provoking, but not if you get too specific, or, for that matter, too angry that you cannot see it from another angle. Musicians like to have their lyrics mean many things so that they don’t pigeon hole their listeners into one line of thought. That’s a propaganda tool, having people think the same via one song or video. M.I.A. doesn’t like to be pigeoned into a musical genre, but she’ll do that to her listeners with her music. Typical hypocrite.


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