M.I.A. – “Born Free”

Little miss “Lady Gaga is copying me”, M.I.A., has released a graphic and violent clip for her track, “Born Free”. The video depicts the genocide of redheaded citizens in a war-torn nation, and it’s incredibly effective.

Naturally, the blogosphere has gone mental. The main criticism that I’ve found, seems to be that the video is a piece of shock tactic marketing, designed to drive album/single sales. Well, yes. Of course it is. That is the point of a video clip – to promote the music. You can’t criticise an artist for doing that, it’s the norm in today’s music culture. But, while M.I.A. is using a controversial clip to promote her music, she’s also raising an important issue by drawing attention to genocide and racial violence.

Let’s compare this to, say, Lady Gaga & Beyonce’s “Telephone”. Both clips are around the 9-minute mark. Gaga’s is full of product placement, which is fine – I’m not going to criticise her for getting the funding to create this, uh, “masterpiece”. If I recall correctly, there’s some storyline involving being naked in prison, making a sandwich, and killing some people. Yeah, I know, it really makes you think.

Musically, I don’t like either piece. I’m not an M.I.A. fan, and I did turn the volume down about halfway through her clip. Visually, however, I was still drawn in. The clip is incredibly moving – the most horrible part, for me, was seeing all the people imprisoned on the bus, and realising that they were all being targeted purely based on their hair colour.

This isn’t a clip that’s going to be played every weekend on Video Hits, but it is an amazing short film. And if that helps M.I.A. sell a few records, then good on her.

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