As her Twitter points out (and she enthusiastically responds with a BOO), M.I.A.’s new music video for the single “Born Free” has already been removed from YouTube. The new video, released Monday, is now featured on her official website only.
Since the famous refugee has never been quiet about her political views in the past, the violent, subversive, shocking nature of this protest video wasn’t surprising. Directed by Romain Gavras (whose work on other indie videos of the past have stirred a little controversy), the video follows a jeep full of US officers, clad in body-armor and ski masks who tote heavy assault rifles as they storm an apartment compound in an anonymous urban setting. As the soldiers kick through doors and march over beds where lovers—still naked—recoil in fear, the jittery camera leads them to their prey: a white male. He‘s led to a bus. A bus full of all red-headed, white males—cruelly labeled “gingers” in the US and UK (and exploited as a minority group in an episode of South Park). Then there’s terror. They’re driven out to a desert, told to run and then are gruesomely blown up or shot.
Violence. Brutal, ugly, meaningless violence. What new concepts! We see the same thing in feature films, hear about it in the news, and see it on the side of the road on anti-abortion campaign signs. But in a video on YouTube amongst the vastness of the web, this violence is surely unacceptable. YouTube has the right to remove any video portraying “excessive violence” but they declined in stating whether this was the cause of M.I.A.’s removal.
Call me a believer, but what was first just a new M.I.A. song—a drum-heavy, sprinting fast-paced song—became an anthem against all oppression after viewing the video. Under much distortion, the Sri Lankan singer’s vocals—“Born free/Born free”—make me feel like maybe M.I.A. is captured, hiding under all of this noise, this war static. I realize the absurdity of the capture, torture, and killing of these gingers. I realize how it can be applied to much of what happens in the world. Violence based on ethnicity or culture is worldwide. I get it. It’s a good point, and executed well.
But, oh my. Un-American. Unpatriotic. These are likely YouTube’s thoughts and motives for the ban. Or perhaps that M.I.A. simply is not Lady GaGa, say, killing off an entire diner of people—not because she has a point per se, but because she’s sick and tired of her phone ri-ringing.