My label has my video , they havnt uploaded for 4 days > they wont let me upload > whats is the point? smh
— M.I.A (@MIAuniverse) May 19, 2014
She posted the video on youtube, only to have it blocked shortly thereafter by her record label, Universal Music Group. It seems that copyright was cited as the issue. In retaliation, M.I.A. began tweeting her fan’s comments of disappointment until it was finally released. This is not the first time that she has made headlines for being bold. She came under fire for flipping her middle finger during the 2012 Superbowl half-time show. Nevertheless, she provided a great explanation for the gesture, which was done in honour of the Hindu goddess Matangi.
The video is directed by M.I.A. and it is true to her hypnotic pop-art aesthetic, with its bright colours and flashing superimposed images. This gives these otherwise ordinary shots a surreal quality.
It’s really the type of music video that needs to be watched again and again in order to fully digest the content. It features some pretty militant political imagery. For instance, she takes up the issue of 3D printed guns, showing how easily they can be constructed and the wide range of colours in which they can be printed. Kids are shown wielding these toy-like pieces, which could very well become popular commodities as the cost of 3D printers drops. There is also an allusion to living in an era of totalitarianism with a reference to George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. This is interestingly set against the civilian manufacturing of weapons.
Speaking of repression, one of the most powerful images is shown below with an intelligent spin on the bikini apron. It’s a brilliant comment on the way in which women’s bodies are not only scrutinized but also made to be sites of cultural and imperial struggle. In a post 9/11 world, where the static image of the Muslim woman has become symbolic of patriarchal oppression, the binary East versus West power dynamic is contained in this singular moment.
There really is a great deal of complexity and multi-layered meaning in the images that she has constructed. This is but a brief dissection that does not capture the extent of her genius. But one thing is for sure, M.I.A. is BADASS. She pushes boundaries and is an inspiration for people -especially girls, who struggle with conformity. On that note, here’s another tribute to the goddess Matangi against a backdrop of glowing peace drones flying overhead.