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.