British singer MIA’s latest music video ‘Born Free’ has caused a whirlwind of controversy and has been pulled from YouTube.
Directed by Romain Gavras, the video was deemed too violent for young audiences with its nudity and graphic violence. The 9:06 minute video is more like a short film and doesn’t even feature the singer.
The video begins with a set of policemen conducting raids on blocks of flats and targeting only red headed people. Taken away in buses, one shot lingers on a red headed protest movement wall mural.
At the buses’ destination in the desert, the red heads are told to run for their lives. When they pause, one of them (the youngest) is shot point blank in the head. The others quickly take off, but are killed by exploding land mines.
The graphic nature of the video has been derided, but with MIAs long standing campaigning against genocide and ethnic cleansing, the aim of the video is apparent.
The timing of the video’s release, just as a law in the American state of Arizona will allow police to detain anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant, has also been noted by many as a possible commentary on discriminatory police powers.
M.I.A told the BBC’s Radio 1 that: “It was the first song recorded for the album. At the time, a lot of things were bottled up. It was a good start.”
Born in Hounslow, raised in her family home of Sri Lanka, and then on the run in India, Mathangi ‘Maya’ Arulpragasam’s music has been consistently varied.
M.I.A. (which sometimes stands for Missing In Action) has spoken about her influences by her Tamil father’s militant past in Sri Lanka.
The video can still be found online, but be warned, it’s extremely graphic.