MIA uses her Tamil heritage to make a point

A very strong new video by Tamil MIA, Born Free, shocks the senses. And rightly so:

If singer/rapper M.I.A.’s purpose was to get people talking about her new single “Born Free,” she succeeded.

The Sri Lankan-born artist debuted the graphic video on Monday. Immediately, fans took to social media to debate its scenes of military force, violence and brutality.

“M.I.A. is a provocateur and someone who tries to rile people up in a variety of ways,” said Saul Austerlitz, author of “Money for Nothing: A History of the Music Video from the Beatles to the White Stripes.”

“I think one of the main routes that she takes to that end is the political, and this video has a lot of political resonances, things like Guantanamo, the Iraqi insurgency and the Taliban all sort of jumbled together and rebranded.”

The almost nine-minute video for the song from her upcoming album includes nudity as well as scenes of brutality. Directed by filmmaker Romain Gavras, the video revolves around the rounding up of red-headed young men by a group of military commandos.

At one point, a boy is shot point-blank in the head and another young man is blown to pieces. YouTube reportedly yanked the video in light of its content.

M.I.A, Born Free from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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