Under the Radar

MIA's Confusing Position on the War on Terror


Warning: Video is most definitely NSFW.

British singer MIA has been blowing up the Internet this week with her  banned-from-YouTube video for "Born Free," a clip that features director Romain Gavras' loud, violent and confusing take on the war on terror.

Best as I can tell, the redheaded white boys are supposed to represent Arab Muslims and the SWAT guys with U.S. flags on their sleeves are American troops. Aside from the fact that the raids and subsequent executions are exceptionally bloody and disorienting, it's hard to find a political statement any deeper than "I bet you wouldn't like it if the war on terror targeted white people."

Though born in the UK, MIA spent much of her childhood hiding from the Sri Lankan army in her parents' native country. After returning to the UK, she became a noted visual artist before launching a recording career that eventually resulted in the worldwide hit "Paper Planes, " a song notable for its use of a sample from The Clash's "Straight to Hell."

"Born Free," build on a sample from "Ghost Rider" by the legendary NYC experimental punk band Suicide, sounded amazing when it leaked just a few days ago. This is definitely a case where the video detracts from the song.

Video director Gavras seems to auditioning for a low-budget Wesley Snipes movie here, recycling many of his ideas from the "Stress" video for the French band Justice.

The attempt at politics is a little hard to take from MIA. Even though she grew up as the child of refugees, she's currently married to Benjamin Bronfman, an heir to the massive Seagram Canadian bootlegging fortune. Now that she's one of the rich people, she should have gotten the memo that tells people whose kids will never serve generally not to offer up blanket condemnations of the people who actually take the risks and do the fighting.

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