Before last week ended, M.I.A. dropped the Suicide-sampling “Born Free” on the internet, a track likely to appear on her forthcoming long-player. As this week begins, she’s dropping a Romain Gavras-directed video that’s been dropped from YouTube in the U.S. — it’s hella violent and not safe for your workplace, unless your workplace is in a council estate, or trains abusive SWAT teams on how to harass those in lower income housing. “Born Free,” for sure. It’s over 8-and-a-half minutes, and the end is rather, explosive. Be warned.


Maya’s still-untitled album’s due 6/29 via N.E.E.T./Interscope. Watch “Born Free” big-screen style on her site.

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Comments (95)
  1. Pointlessly violent.

    • All violence is pointless, which I think is the message here.

      • I think the point is we live in a capitalist democracy… if we elect officials who support violence, then we are also guilty of the violence. This film totally illustrates it, and reminds me of how careless I’ve been about what my government is doing recently.

        We should also take note, that based on the products we choose to buy and the things we choose to endorse, we are making political contributions and affecting lives. The shirt on your back which you bought might have been made by some form of slave labor, spoils of war and oppression. If you buy a ticket to see M.I.A. play at HARD then you know that money is employing Maya and her people and a bunch of other local people in the community for something you can experience yourself. I am curious, though, after reading these comments below, how much she donates and to whom.

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  3. Not really, considering violence on this level and worst occurs practically every day in far flung countries and areas where we never stop think of. MIA has a strong political stand and its not particularly ‘pointless’ to highlight the violence that occurs in many situations; i’m not saying that every single musician should do so but I would never say highlighting real violence is pointless.

    • What real violence? What exactly is she political about? Is there anything to her message besides “I bet this is happening somewhere in the world, so let’s stop to think about it for a second”?

      • What do you suggest? NOT stopping to think about it for a second? I think anything that can make us spoiled westerners stop ignoring for a minute that these things go on in the world is great. You can see how hostile many people react to that.

        • I take offense to the fact that the “men in black” are wearing American flags on their arms. I don’t mind M.I.A. making a statement about the dangers of a police state, but I do mind it when someone equates that to instantly mean “America”. It’s just lazy to go for the big and easy target knowing that there is enough misplaced guilt in America to drum up a reaction. It’s a very pedestrian attempt at trying to create controversy.

          (and I like most of M.I.A.’s stuff)

          • The sad thing is that this could be an amazing video if 1.- they got rid of the flag from the capitalist nation that MIA chooses to live in. 2.-less acting; more video, c’mon MIA! I don’t care if you make a violent video against racism but be a little subtle about it.

          • Take offense to whatever you’d like but Know that ALL governments have blood of innocents on their hands and the US has a disproportionate amount of blood, particularly since they’ve been the hegemonic power lo the last three decades. Nevermind all of the Nation Building and Revolution fomenting the US has encouraged/created since the inceptions of the FBI and CIA.
            /historygum

          • Of course (No Offense, Tim) the dude being offended by the use of American Men In Black is a Sarah Palin supporter, so, take from that what you will.

          • Good Call on dropping that group from your list there Timmy.

          • Way to shove me in a box so that you don’t have acknowledge my existence there, DS3M.

          • @christrash, 1. MIA has had a notoriously difficult time with visas and things with the u.s. apparently the u.s. government doesn’t like her political stances any more than you do. 2. when has MIA done anything subtly? that absolutely not her style, nor has she ever claimed it to be.

          • I think this video is meant to open our eyes to the situation in Sri Lanka. This isn’t targeted at the American govt.

          • I guess you would have been happier if it were illegal Mexicans Depicted being taken out of LA (Or AZ?) and shoved thru a mine filled border to be sent back to their country?

            Wasn’t trying to put you in a box homie, you did that to yourself with your affiliations and choices.

            Also wasn’t attempting to single you out, just hoping to elucidate the reasons behind your resonance. (and your Intrusive FB CONNECT feature happened to help me nicely)

          • maybe also a reference to the original lyrics of Ghost Rider?
            but i wouldn’t take it too personally.

          • Oh dear. Romain and Maya – we get it a thousand times over. I love it when Chris earlier suggested she could have done this more subtly. You think? That woman wouldn’t know subtle if it hit her over the head with a bottle of Seagram’s. I got no problem with your brown shirts wearing US flags, yes we know America can be thugs (see: Arizona immigration law). And round up the ginger kids for mass murder (Shaun White and Prince Harry would be goners in this world) – what could that possibly be a reverse-signifier for? But show the boy being shot in the head? Show the limbs? yada yada. NSFW? NSF subtlety, decency, taste, or winning points with Homeland Security. Of course that’s nothing Bronfman bucks can’t fix.

          • America fully supports “Israel.” and the Israeli army is destroying the lives of many innocent Palestinians. I’m Palestinian and this video made complete sense to me.

          • you understand none of it

      • i feel like at this point, if you don’t know about MIA’s political stances and don’t get the allegory that she is making her between the arbitrary murder of redheads and the killing of the tamil people in sri lanka, where she is from, maybe you should do a quick google search before dismissing it. MIA has been very very vocal for years about this. for people who have followed her music for the past almost 10 years, it is easy to see the point she is making.

        clearly you are not one of those people since you actually said, “what exactly is she political about?”

        • Listen, I like MIA’s music, but she’s nuts. She married the son of a guy who got rich selling cheap liquor to poor people. When I went to see her in the HOB she started the show (two hours late) saying that an election was going to do nothing for the country, then backed Obama when she saw everyone else was doing it. She is not doing jack shit to actually change the situation in Sri Lanka, besides just making money off the rebel-without-a-clue imagery she portrays. She’s a cashillionaire now and I may just be uninformed but I don’t see her being mentioned as a philanthropist.

        • Thank god, I can’t believe I got this far down the comments before someone said that. Or that it even needed to be explained. The american flags are there in an, “imagine if this happened here” way. not a “america is evil” way. Come on, now. (and yes, I understand MIA would probably tell us America is evil, anyways).

      • Well she has well-documented ties to the Tamil Tigers, and if you know anything about that, then you know there’s very real violence involved with it.

      • and ppl like you are the reason why the human race is fuck’d in the head

  4. Gingers do have souls!

    • that is totally what i was thinking for most of this video! how is coppercab going to react to this?

      of course, i also understand that this is a serious video, an allegory for those in power rounding up and killing, or even just harrassing, groups of people based on superficial differences, which totally happens in places all over the world to greater and lesser degrees.

    • Yeah. What you both said.

  5. just because a point is broad and relatively simple doesn’t mean that it’s not worth making. if the message were more directed, people would just accuse her of not knowing the facts…

  6. This video definitely, definitely lays it on THICK, (like most of M.I.A.’s political messages,) but I guess that’s the question we have to face: Is it shocking, or ridiculous, or over the top, simply because it’s white redheads being rounded up and tortured? If this video featured all the people throughout the world who have suffered and continue suffer through this elsewhere, would we still think it was “pointlessly violent”?

    I appreciate that, even on a major label, M.I.A. pretty much does and says whatever the fuck she wants. This video is proof of that. Plus Romain Gavras is one hell of a filmmaker.

  7. I don’t get how it’s pointlessly violent. I think the video has a very clear message and commentary on the genocide in Sri Lanka. It seems silly that gingers would be rounded up and murdered in America, and that’s just how senseless the violence directed towards the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka is, as well as in any other nation-state that rounds up and murders a group of its citizens. Definitely an effective piece of film-making.

    • totally agree, i think this is EXACTLY the point this video makes. Not only is it not “pointless,” it’s completely timely, as the Sri Lankan army blasted into the Tamil homeland just a few months ago, killing civilians, destroying homes, and leaving many, many innocent people living in refugee camps for no reason other than their ethnicity.

      • Effective? It’s obscene. As was/ is the violence inflicted on Tamils. But don’t fight violence by depicting it. Ridiculously heavy handed. You think we don’t know there is genocide in the world? You think we don’t know there are unspeakably horrible things being perpetrated against ethnic groups AS WELL AS women, homosexuals, and dissidents the world over? You think I don’t realize that the US is hardly blameless when it comes to fascist behaviour (see: Arizona immigration law)? Depicting kids of any ethnicity being shot in the head and blown to bits is not “effective”, it’s guignol shock-effect bullshit.

        • I am pretty sure the majority of people in our western world do not, on a daily basis, think about genocide going on, or horrific things being done to women and homosexuals, etc etc etc.

          If you think about that on a regular basis that’s great because maybe you realize what’s going on in the world out there – you are not the target for the message of the video – but just keep in mind most people don’t give a flying fuck, and maybe if someone shoves it in people’s faces a bit they JUST MIGHT think, hey wait, this ginger elimination isn’t that out-there of a concept at all.

          She’s not trying to ‘fight’ violence, she’s trying to show you the violence that already exists. Reading about it, hearing statistics about it, all of that doesn’t do shit for the average person. No one could care less about genocides going on, if we are being truthful, because we don’t have to see it all the time, and probably are not directly effected by them.

  8. pointlessly violent is like the silliest criticism anyone could make of the video. but you can’t say that seeing a white person persecuted in the way people of color are persecuted around the world everyday doesn’t make you stop and think about HOW we look at images of people suffering and whether we look at it differently or FEEL differently if the image is unfamiliar. Are you used to seeing images of brown people crying over dead children and families killed by US soldiers? Did the video make you realize, even a little bit that the US is still doing all the things in that video everyday to people, everyday but they just don’t look like you and maybe that’s really kind of fucked up? If it did, then it’s a job well done. It could have been red heads, blonds or white people with blue eyes, the point is the same.

  9. OH! So this is what CopperCab is planning to do, right?

  10. Americans aren’t used to seeing realistic portrayals of violence in media/news/entertainment. I don’t like seeing this, Afghanistan and Iraq are going just fine… I’m just a victim of the great American disaster. I just want to forget I saw in that video. M.I.A., paper planes was good. It was on the soundtrack to Pineapple Express, it was about two dudes smoking pot and getting into a wacky adventure. AMERICA.

  11. I didn’t think Gabourey Sidibe was very funny in this at all.

  12. why can’t we just let Shaun White be great?

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  14. i thought it was a pretty sick video..i don’t think she was targeting America as much as she was trying to make a point about false freedoms in any capitalistic country in this sad sad world. She couldve used any country for that matter, but i think she used America because so many of us here are oblivious to everything going on in the world. I thought the vid was a creative piece of art with a political statement, but the genocide of gingers is not cool

  15. Romain Gavras also brought Stress to life for Justice (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FU7bFpPJiww) – the message is pretty clear – very well done.

    • Indeed Stress is a great video is also violent, but now a days everything is. I think Romain Gravras wants you to see a side that everyone is ignoring.

  16. man those gingers never seem to catch a break

  17. Again, like the song. Admire her going for it, but it doesn’t really work.

  18. Someone PLEASE get this video to CopperCab so he can make a reaction video! It would make my week.

  19. wow. yes. it DOES work. the point is made in a rather genius manner too.

  20. This bitch doesn’t know shit.

  21. I don’t get it.

  22. This video is about as subtle as the movie Crash. Lame

  23. This song reminds me of Tricky’s cover of Black Steel.

    Wish she would stop sampling. Unless you are transforming into something greater than the sum of it’s parts, it’s just lazy and unimaginative at this point.

  24. Aside from the crap video, all this did was make me want to listen to Suicide. Fail.

  25. damn, that was badassssss. now i like the song!

  26. hipsters… always miss the point. the beat sucks.

  27. The irony is not lost.

  28. Say what you may about the video and it’s “point”, but honestly, if I hadn’t fell for M.I.A.’s music back in 8th grade, I would have never been aware of any of the conflicts of Sri Lanka, and I believe that’s true for many people.

  29. we’re all overlooking the most obvious allusion in this video. this is a direct allegory to the horrors of the holocaust.

  30. Well done MIA, you enlightened all of us,

    I too hate red haired people and am glad to know that latex doll versions of them are being blown in the mexico frontier

  31. This video isn’t making any direct allusions. You can take any number of references from it ranging from the holocaust, Israel/Palestine, Sri Lanka, Mexican immigration, and so on. That’s part of the point. It’s just showing how absurd it all is when discrimination can be cast upon something as simple as hair color.

    The American flag should also be about as offensive here as in any dystopian future story where America is overrun by evil corporations or political zealots or whoever. Because that’s basically what this is. The flag was used to be a confrontational symbol to show how it can be co-opted and corrupted.

  32. Am I the only one who found the movie…funny?

    I must have played way too much Mortal Kombat growing up.

  33. Why has nobody mentioned the absurd judah friedlander DOUBLE DOWN KFC takeover of Stereogum?

  34. I like how everybody here is taking a 8 minute clip of vaguely political violence porn and painting whatever pet cause they want to on top of it. It’s clearly about the Tamil Tigers/Israel-Palestine/Capitalism/Iraq & Afghanistan/Western Indifference to Foreign Minorities/AZ Immigration Laws/Future American Dystopian Society/The Holocaust. (Did I get them all?)

    Thank you, M.I.A., for reminding your already-mostly-progressive audience that discrimination-based violence is bad, and doing it in such an extreme fashion that anybody who needed that message would be disgusted by the clip (or worse, entertained for all the wrong reasons).

    /being grumpy

  35. This is not very good music.

  36. This is not very good music.

  37. i think the funniest thing is that she got mad that it got banned from youtube.

  38. i think the funniest thing is that she got mad that it got banned from youtube. like duh. what would you think was going to happen?

  39. at least she’s not ripping of the clash again. i really like this. it’s disturbing, but you can’t take it too seriously or you’re kind of dumb. and i don’t like her at all. so take it for what it is.

  40. Why are the SWAT guys chasing after a dude running through a mine field? They shoot the kid to force the kids to run into this dangerous field…and then they run after them. I don’t mind messages or even propaganda, but give me some internal logic at least.

  41. quit bringing up whos shes married to

    you cant help who your parents are, or who you love….they have a baby for fucks sake

    i love m.i.a….the song is ok….i like suicide….thers just no hook

    we hold m.i.a…..like thom yorke….to an impossible standard…shes not fucking mother teresa….

    in this britney bieber age take what you can get people

  42. What’s with the ginger-hate? First they boot Conan O’Brien and now they blow-up a ginger to little pieces… Messed-up yo.

  43. I am the redhead shot in the head in M.I.A’s video. She was cool on set and it was a great chance to to tell everyone that bully’s suck no matter what country you are from or who you are picking on. Jewish, Black, Asian, Indian, yes even redheads. There are countries killing their own people! Their own relatives and families! Kids that get blown up in old landmines. I am proud to be a part of M.I.A.’s shout out to the world.

  44. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Amen brother Amen.

    X

  45. what really annoys me about this video, is the way they put sound over the song. i don’t get why directors do that.

  46. When you put an American flag on the Nazi-like police state thugs, it stops being a general statement against senseless violence and it becomes anti-US propoganda. Frankly, I’m not at all sympathetic to the allusion that this country falls into this vicious fascist-like category: say what you will about the AZ immigration policy, but nobody is running illegals across minefields; say what you will about our Middle East policy, but the US is not lining up undesireable people and executing them. Also: is there a song in that video someplace?

    • “say what you will about our Middle East policy, but the US is not lining up undesireable people and executing them.” maybe not officially but you are blind if you don’t realize all countries do this kind of stuff, including the U.S. I think it’s funny this video came out now and people are condemning the use of the American flag on the military in here, calling it unrealistic, when a video was just recently released of American choppers shooting down a large group of Iraqi citizens, including injuring 2 children and killing two Reuters journalists. here is the short version http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rXPrfnU3G0&feature=player_embedded this video was classified and hidden, despite Reuters staff demanding to view it, as the deaths were claimed to be totally accidental. While it isn’t as explicit and dramatic as the M.I.A. video, hearing the sick humor the pilots get from it and the way they talk about it certainly shows the music video is only slightly exaggerated. So maybe you should think about working up some sympathy for this “anti-US propaganda” after all…

  47. Senseless violence- reminds me of the Stress video from Justice. but those were the bad guys.

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