M.I.A. flips bird, distracts from interesting stuff

7 Feb

If you watched the halftime show of this year’s Super Bowl, you saw an overly muscled monster Madonna traipse about the stage and sing 8-year-old songs. You also saw M.I.A.’s middle finger, although you most likely didn’t care.

I suppose it could be seen as a reaction to the censorship practised by the network (the finger appears just as NBC cuts the word ‘shit’ from her vocals) but mostly it’s just childish. Still awesome television, but I think we would have all preferred a nipple.

In interesting news, M.I.A. has released a new video. “Bad Girls” is visually very similar to her previous “Born Free”, though, true to the song for which it was made, the video is definitely less frantic and more laid back. Romain Gavras, the director behind “Born Free” returns to direct this video as well.

Both videos after the jump.

What’s interesting about this video is how it further show’s M.I.A.’s desire to showcase her political agenda alongside her music and do it in an interesting way. In the video for “Born Free”, she explores ideas of race and prejudice by having SWAT members round-up everyone in Los Angeles who happens to have red hair. It’s an ultra-violent nightmare scenario, shot well and paired with a song that clearly has a message to get across. “Your man-made power, stood like a tower, higher, higher, hello,” the vocals blare as jack boots crack red-headed skulls.

“Bad Girls” is principally about sisters doing it for themselves. It switches the usual roles played by men and women in hip-hop videos by having the women stunt int heir cars and mug for the camera while the men are sequestered in the role of background dancers and spectators. It is empowering and independent and daring, and so of course Gavras and M.I.A. decided to set it in a place that is popularly considered to be anything but these things: the Middle East.

The video shows women in burkas racing along highways, sitting on top of a moving vehicle and generally just acting unladylike. Stuntin’ like their daddies, as it were.

It’s not a heavy-handed political message. It’s flippant and it’s light-hearted. It’s exactly what you don’t expect when you hear about a political rap video. This isn’t Public Enemy. This is a sly little bird flipped to the music industry that says, “You don’t do this as well as me, and I’m not even trying.” Good work, Maya.

M.I.A – “Born Free” dir. Romain Gavras

M.I.A – “Bad Girls” dir. Romain Gavras


One Response to “M.I.A. flips bird, distracts from interesting stuff”


  1. Buzz, Thurs Feb 9th, 2012 « The Thursday Buzz on CFCR - February 9, 2012

    […] already covered this song in depth on a previous blog post, so go there to see the video and read my […]

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