Jul 4, 2010 - music/pics/videos    6 Comments

Born Free (a special July 4th msg)

So I accidentally watched MIA’s video ‘Born Free’ and all I have to say is wow. I say accidentally because I had no idea what it was/who she was, but was curious about why youtube would actually pull/censor a video with all the millions of absolute videodic trash on that site. (Remember all the vitriol from the internets about defending “freedom of speech” with the ‘Draw Muhammad Day’. Hmph.) Having watched it I can see that the video does have full nudity, sex and extreme graphic violence. (so do others still on there) But what a message. Wow. I bet there are people in high places now scared of her. Not even kidding.

I’ll just tell you so you don’t have to actually go through the trauma yourselves of watching it. Believe me it’s enough to get seared onto your brains and disturb you for a long time.

So the video is beautifully shot on a cinematic scale by some south american? director guy. It first shows all these soldiers in military uniform, one with a conspicuous US flag on his arm driving to a raid. They end up in some slummish area and break into a house to find a couple having sex. They search through the apartment building, pass buy a guy using drugs and round up some young guys and mercilessly beat the others. The couple is left nude crying trying to console each other. They round up all the guys up into a police bus for transport. Then they show all of them on the bus and it’s all ‘redheaded white ppl’. As they drive them through their shelled out town they pass 3 red-headed youths, one wearing a keffiyeh, at a corner preparing to throw something at the police convoy. They throw bottles/rocks? They also pass some graffiti sign of redheads holding rifles with the (IRA) slogan “Our Day Will Come”. The military ends up taking them out to some place in the desert.  They force them off the bus and line them up and cold-bloodedly kill the youngest red-headed boy/girl? by a single gunshot to the head. (Viet cong style) Then they tell the others to run. They run, but the field is peppered with landmines and explosions are shown. They end up dying horribly and one boy is shown graphically blown up with body parts everywhere. A soldier (that could quite possibly be red haired) just stares into the distance and the screen goes black for a few seconds.

What’s interesting to me has been the reaction to this video. Many of the ppl who commented really couldn’t figure out what the video was about. They didn’t understand why she used ‘ginger-haired’ people and found it offensive. Really? Offensive? I wonder if it would have been offensive if it showed them rounding up black haired dark Arab ppl. Perhaps not, because we see this EVERYDAY in real life on the news/in movies and everywhere else. Who finds that offensive? Also some ppl thought the keffiyeh guys were actually going to do something like throw moltov cocktails or stop the armoured buses somehow. They were DISAPPOINTED, there was no HOPE in the video, they said. Hmmm. Really? They’ve never seen the videos of boys throwing stones at Israeli tanks? And they never thought to themselves ‘why don’t these people have any hope’? Mhmm. Then I noticed some commenters saying that the little boy being shot in cold blood was too much. Really? How about a soldier killing all your family members one by one, burning your house to the ground and raping  a 14 year old girl. (+ pouring kerosene over her body and lighting her on fire)  Not too much right?

The main media outlets from what I can see interestingly are writing op-eds reviewing the video by saying they think the video was too needlessly graphic to make its message known. Did you hear that? They think it’s “too needlessly graphic”. And youtube of all ppl think that it is so disturbing they need to remove it! Amazing. I think MIA has proved her point. (Point being they are hypocrites – graphicness when it comes to reality is ok but not in fiction, showing it with white/red-headed ppl is too disturbing.)

Why the shocking images – the nudity, why the graphicness, why show it like that someone might ask. D’uh. Because it’s real. That is real. That’s what’s happening in the world, whether you ban it from youtube or not.

At least some people were trying to figure out what it was about. Is it about the Palestinians? Is it about Afghanistan/Iraq? US Imperialism? Is it about the IRA/Tamils? Is it commentary about ethnic cleansing? Is it about Arizona? What does it mean we are born free?  At least they’re thinking about these things.

After her success with Slumdog you’d think she’d go on to write music a la lady gaga style or the execs would glam her up more, even though she is undoubtedly talented. MIA’s video though is completely unapologetic. Most people are not ready for it. It is quite frankly, extremely brave because many ppl don’t get it, and those that do, don’t like it. However disturbing, it resonates truths. I think that’s why certain ppl should fear her.

You know what the scariest thing to a slave-master is? Someone telling their slave that they’re really free. MIA is telling all disenfranchised/enslaved/oppressed people they are born free. What a dangerous message.


  • This is an amazing post. I hadn’t heard of this song/video but it’s really intriguing, I’m really interested to read more about it. Thanks for the post.

  • Salaam Sis J – Happy 4th first of all.

    Wow, I hadn’t heard about the video since I read this. Yeah, I don’t think I’ll watching it, that’s for sure. Thanks for saving us from that for those of us who haven’t watched it up until this point.

    Deep video from what you describe. It is strange, that while such events are happening in the real world, it tends either to be downplayed in the media here or of course, as you say, it is happening to brown/black skinned individuals, so it’s not as offensive. My mom asked her colleagues here about what hey heard about the flotilla raid(s), as we were in Europe when it occurred and they said it wasn’t too much of a big deal. I know the Palestine issue would be a whole ‘nother blog post, but I think that is a microcosm of what we have in this country.

    I don’t see why really, the video should be offensive – I mean, yeah if it has violence, nudity and other things that are normally kept censored from the younger crowd, then it’s no big deal, but when there are worse, but useless things on YouTube that are not taken down, then its hypocritical. Also, is it just offensive when it’s fair-skinned people who are the victims? As you say, isn’t it offensive when it is happening in the real world and yet, no one is speaking out against it? It seems that in today’s world, as long as it is the minority or at least not one’s own people (here I mean the dominant race or group) everything is a-okay. Even though it’s a work of fiction, the fact that it is happening in the world – THAT should be offensive to all humans.

    Lastly, there are many people who are willing to speak the truth in their own way or format, yet their voices are either ignored, censored or silenced/drowned-out (i.e. Helen Thomas). It’s as if decent human principles have gone out the window in favor of political correctness or wanting to just follow the status quo – which is only going to lead to our own demise. As you concluded Sr. Jannah – the truth has always been a dangerous thing.

  • Thanx Mona. I posted the details of the video but wasn’t really sure whether to link to it. I want ppl to see it, but at the same time it is very graphic and has some haram things (including language I forgot to mention).

    Bro w. coast so true bro…your thoughts coincide with mine, a relief that there are other ppl out there that think the same way! sometimes i wonder. I feel very sorry for Helen Thomas what an excellent career she had and what an amazing woman, and because she spoke the truth they’ve totally persecuted her and taken away all that.

    What I learn from MIA and Helen and women like them is that anyone who speaks out or takes a stand will have enemies ppl who hate them. They just have to be strong.

    Jazaks, ws

  • Sis J – To be honest, I don’t see how an educated / well-informed person can’t agree with what you’ve said here. For those who don’t think this way, as may be true of many in this country, they just have to make a bit of an effort to find out the truth – whether that means looking to alternative news sources or at least having some doubt in terms of what they are being fed by their regular media (CNN, NBC, FOX).
    Unfortunately, a large portion of the population choose to just believe what they are told – which these sources take advantage and flame the fire, knowing these individuals won’t bother to actually find out what is accurate and what isn’t. There is also the fear-mongering, that prevents those who may be willing to explore but are simply scared or apprehensive, which just stops them in their tracks.
    Indeed, women and others like MIA, Helen Thomas will have to persevere and be patient – two qualities we as Muslims are reminded of again and again by our Creator. So, if this can be applied as a common trait in all humans, regardless of Faith, I would hope that one day, the barriers that stand in our way today can be overcome, whether it is us, our children or the generations beyond.

  • Salaam Sister Jannah, great post!!!

    Like you and WCoastbaba I also wish more people would wake up and stop being so hypocritical! I feel that there is no excuse for people letting themselves be led and treated like a flock of sheep that believe everything the media tells them, dont question anything their government does, and don’t even care enough to look at the figures of the horrors their tax dollars are funding overseas.
    The lives they are paying out of pocket to be taken. Then these same people who don’t care enough to know or ask, get “offended” when a bit of reality is leaked thru the filter created for them so they can live in blissful ignorance.

    There is so much hate and double standards, Inshallah more and more people will be brave enough to speak the truth and stand up for the oppressed, and have the patience to keep trying even when they are silenced!

    Love ur blog :)
    Take care

  • Salaams Sister Jannah,
    Nice post. I’ll make comment based on my perceptions as a Muslim, with regards to the comments about slaves and slave-masters.

    I believe that we are all born free until we compromise ourselves, sell-out, or have division within us that external parties can exploit.

    No matter how effective modern weapons are (the B52, naval warships, artillery, etc), they can never occupy a people until some groups within the community sell-out. This is why (for example), the Americans will never be able to do to Iran what they did to Iraq (the Iranis are a united nation, while the Iraqis were effectively divided along ethnic and sectarian lines).

    Whether it is Julian, count of Ceuta, who calls in the Umayyad’s for the conquest of Al-Andalus, or the treachery against Tipu Sultan by his own ministers, internal division is what causes others to be able to oppress you.

    The Islamic ikhwaaniat (brotherhood) should be enough to keep us strong, united and filled with hope. No one could hope to sustain oppression against a united people, who hold fast to the rope of Allah.

    Unfortunately, the Muslims are going through a low point in our historical cycle, and have to reestablish this attribute of true brotherhood/sisterhood. I have every confidence that this will happen, and insha’Allah within our lifetimes.