M.I.A. is not shying away from controversy in her new video, the latest in epic music videos that would never get aired on TV, and weren’t made to (a phenom that doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon). Cinematic but super violent, it’s definitely a commentary on oppressive military governments and cultural profiling. To M.I.A.’s disappointment, it was banned from YouTube within a day of being posted.
Trigger warning: Contains graphic beatings, gun violence, and carnage.
Here’s a description of the video from Gawker:
As the video starts, a group of soldiers [clearly marked as US military -Kj] ransack an apartment building, bypassing an old man smoking crack and barging in on a couple having sex. When the soldiers find a young man and start hauling him out of the building, it seems like it’s going to be another tired video about the brutality of war. Then the young man is thrown into a bus and we see that it’s full of other red-headed young men. Ah, a twist. As the bus pulls away, some ginger militants can be seen throwing bottles at the bus in front of a mural that depicts red-headed men holding guns aloft.
When the bus arrives at its final destination, a dusty minefield, the military men tell the carrot tops to run across a minefield. When they don’t budge, we see the officer in charge shoot what appears to be a 12-year-old in the head at point blank range. It is graphic and shocking. As the men run across the field, the soldiers pursue both on foot and in an armored van while shooting at their prisoners. One of the runners hits a mine and we see his body explode. Finally the soldiers catch up with the initial man from the apartment building and they beat him, presumably to death. There is no happy ending or redemption here. The movie just ends.
It’s violent, no one can argue that. But what’s the message? Is it effective?
Jen on Disgrasion doesn’t think so: “Yes it’s a metaphor, but it’s also–as people have already pointed out–a South Park episode from 2005. A very funny South Park episode that made me giggle. Is that the desired effect of “Born Free,” to make people giggle at genocide? No? Then pick a better metaphor.” The Awl called it “faddish political pastiche.”
Then again, it’s hard to not see parallels between the US military arresting out people based on appearances in the video…and the US military arresting people based on appearances in real life, right now.
One thing’s for sure, everybody has a different opinion. What’s your take?