This Week in the Mercury


Thursday, May 27, 2010

M.I.A.'s B.S.

Posted by Andrew R Tonry on Thu, May 27, 2010 at 4:39 PM

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Just yesterday I was thinking how full of shit M.I.A. is, and that maybe I should write something about it. Her thin and bogus politics smacked of contempt for the people who buy her records. It would be a shit storm, but something needed to be said. Thankfully Lynn Hirschberg of the New York Times dove in with this especially illuminating piece.

She named her first album “Arular,” after her father. Even though her father was not a Tiger, she also used tigers on her Web site and her album artwork and she favored tiger-striped clothing. This was not an accident. By the time her first album came out, the Tamil cause was mostly synonymous with the cause of the Tamil Tigers. Maya, committed to the cause, allied herself with the group despite its consistent use of terror tactics, which included systematic massacres of Sinhalese villagers. (In turn, government forces were known to retaliate against Tamil villages and were accused of supporting death squads.)

In the press, Maya was labeled a terrorist sympathizer by some; others charged her with being unsophisticated about the politics of Sri Lanka. “People in exile tend to be more nationalistic,” Kadirgamar said. “And Maya took a very simplistic explanation of the problems between Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese government and the Tamils. It’s very unfair when you condemn one side of this conflict. The Tigers were killing people, and the government was killing people. It was a brutal war, and M.I.A. had a role in putting the Tigers on the map. She doesn’t seem to know the complexity of what these groups do.”

But many of her fans didn’t listen too closely to her lyrics, concentrating instead on the beat, the newness of the sound and her own multiculti, many-layered appeal. She was an instant indie darling (although “Arular” sold only 190,000 copies in the United States). Her songs were creative and abrasive in an intoxicating way, and it didn’t hurt that Maya was absolutely great looking. She quickly became a style icon: like that of all great pop stars, her anger and spirit of revolution was mitigated by sex.

It gets better:

Her rhetoric rankles Sri Lankan experts and human rights organizations, who are engaged in the difficult task of helping to forge a viable model for national unity after decades of bitter fighting. “Maya is a talented artist,” Kadirgamar told me, echoing the sentiments of others, “but she only made the situation worse. What happened in Sri Lanka was not a genocide. To not be honest about that or the Tigers does more damage than good. When Maya does a polarizing interview, it doesn’t help the cause of justice.”

Unity holds no allure for Maya — she thrives on conflict, real or imagined. “I kind of want to be an outsider,” she said, eating a truffle-flavored French fry. “I don’t want to make the same music, sing about the same stuff, talk about the same things. If that makes me a terrorist, then I’m a terrorist.”

And what does M.I.A. do when the piece comes out? Rather than refuting facts she gives out the reporter's phone number on Twitter.

"Catch me on the border I got visa's in my name." Yeah, try engaged to to Warner Brothers media mogul (and heir to Seagram's liquor) with a mansion in Beverly Hills.

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