M.I.A. vs. The New York Times

Oh M.I.A....how we used to love you.

On Tuesday, The New York Times ran an 8000 word profile on M.I.A. that focused on the many contradictions of the world famous singer/rapper/provocateur.  The NYT reporter (Lynn Hirschberg) took a few cheap (albeit masterfully executed) shots* in the piece.

M.I.A. responded by Tweeting the reporter’s cell phone number as if it were her own, encouraging her fans to call her to discuss the article.  This however may backfire on M.I.A. though as it’s how we found out about the Times piece.  Celebrity Tweet reports are all the rage on the internet, so I can only imagine how many additional hundreds of thousands of people will now read the article.

Links to the original story and our take on it below.

If we’re forced to take sides in this one though, we’re going with Hirschberg.  Even though there are moments of subjective slant in the piece, we feel the rest of the piece explain that slant.  M.I.A. reveals herself to be a hot intellectual mess – pimping political views that are naive and simplistic and rewriting her father’s history as it suits her current rant.  First he’s a rebel freedom fighter, then when it’s convenient he’s suddenly a 20 year company man for the Sri Lankan government (the entity he was supposedly fighting against in the first version).  She often sounds like Paris Hilton when discussing jewelry and red carpet designers, usually just after a sweeping statement about the conditions of the world’s poor.

Final verdict – if the un-listenable mess that is “Born Free” and it’s clumsy attempt at dressing up shock-video as political statement weren’t enough to make you jump ship on M.I.A. – this article just might.

Original article from the New York Times here.

M.I.A.’s retalitweetian here.

* – “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.”  Truffle flavored French fries – the food of terrorism.

2 Comments to “M.I.A. vs. The New York Times”

  1. An interesting post.

    I also read the NYT article though I must say Hirschberg went for the agent provocateur angle herself. If we take on board it was her finale for the daily, it’s clear why she wanted to court publicity with a less than glamorous take on MIA’s profile and background. It seemed to be a cheap shot by an otherwise reputable journalist. The embellished details was frankly naive.

    Whether this be owing to ignorance of the conflict in the South-Asian country itself or partiality on her behalf, it deserved a rebuttal to clarify the facts (voila, Twitter!).

    Atleast, the controversy has given attention to the real issues Hirschberg and her ilk should be writing about – the oppression and ethnic cleansing of minorities around the world – which MIA’s video, unflinchingly explicit as it is, gives long-due exposure to.

    Sadly, the media has typically deviated it from what should be the true source of conversation. Not a surprise there. This is the exact hypocrisy “Born Free” highlights in vivid detail.

    You may be interested in my post on this video:

    I think we can expect more of the same from MIA, as for Hirschberg it was a strategy that worked and backfired at the same time.

    • First of all – thanks for the comment. We appreciate it, and we appreciate your input into this conversation. As you may have seen, we updated this story in a later post with M.I.A.’s rebuttal song/unedited audio from the interview that shows that Hirschberg did seem to put a sensationalist slant on the piece.

      However, we still feel that the video for Born Free is sensationalist drivel. Political statements should be direct and factual (see our recent post about the song “Neda” for a good example) not ambiguous metaphor borrowed from a South Park episode.

      That’s our take on it, which we know differs from your viewpoint. We hope you respect it as we respect yours in kind.

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