In case this passed you by

Four-month old, widely-seen pop video re-linked here!

My middle name is Zeitgeist.

I’m sure everyone has seen this, but in case you missed it, from earlier this year here is the video for M.I.A.’s Born Free – directed by Romain Gavras and banned from YouTube. It is the lead single from the new album, which has got some stinging reviews. It’s pretty incredible, however you spin it – it has been called “exploitative and hollow” the New York Times, “rattling… brash… and radical” by the L.A. Times, and “startling” by the Huffington Post. [It’s violent, contains lots of swearing and some nudity, in case you’re planning on showing your grandparents what the kids are listening to. Or your kids what their grandparents are listening to, I don’t know.]

A lot of people don’t like it (read some of the comments under the video) but since M.I.A. is waging an internet war of her own I’m sure that was in the brief. She’s on the back foot after being criticised at length in a New York Times piece and fighting back somewhat clumsily (though she did get an apology). On the other hand, if the Daily Telegraph can say of your work that “provocation, controversy and contradiction are all part of the fun” then perhaps it’s time to take it up another notch… (though the video for new single XXXO is about as different as you could imagine; still pretty great, and the affectionate parody element is strong.)

My view is that it is somewhat unfair to criticise musicians for attempting to push a radical agenda, even if their particular views do not measure up to the harshest scrutiny. Why? Because so many other musicians get to push a political position – consumerist capitalism, often of the most misogynist and social darwinist kind – all the time. Why restrict the parameters of debate just for comfort’s sake? So-called ‘radical chic’ is such an easy target; so easy, in fact, that the flaws are perfectly obvious without needing overqualified critics to point them out. More usefully they could turn their attention to the prevailing ideology which gets such an easy ride.

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Published in: on August 11, 2010 at 10:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

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