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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

M.I.A.'s "Born Free" uses absurdity to create social commentary

So I think that even people hiding under rocks have seen M.I.A.'s new vid "Born Free" by now. Alex Vesey over at Bitch did a nice write-up of it here. I just wanted to add my 2 cents about some of the more obvious social commentary going on in the film (which, keep in mind, we're not sure how much of the film was strictly M.I.A.'s vs. Romain-Gavras's vision). First off, I think the timing of the vid being released on the web during the whole SB1070 fiasco in Arizona can't be ignored. The uniforms the guards/soldiers are wearing in the vid have american flags on them. I think this is supposed to be a direct reference to both American soldiers abroad as well as the border enforcement at home. The red-haired, white (mostly male?) people are rounded up like cattle, treated absolutely inhumanely. Sounds a lot like ICE to me, dontcha think? The absurdity of the video, is of course WHO is being rounded up and treated like shit due to a completely arbitrary feature: red hair. An allusion to the irrationality of racism, nativism, and the mindless violence necessary to keep the status quo. There's an especially interesting disconnect that happens when we see that the most brutal men in uniform torturing the Gingers are white, and arguably not all that different from their victims. I'm not sure exactly what M.I.A. is trying to communicate with this video, especially with the satirical (I assume) title of "Born Free," but it sure seems like she's reading the current political climate in the U.S. pretty damn well.

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