We feel it is almost our duty to talk about M.I.A. beyond “the bird” that metaphorically poo-ed on Madonna’s “big day back” at Super Bowl.
Beyond her meteoric rise as a hip-hop artist, M.I.A. (Maya Arulpragasam) is a committed activist. The daughter of Tamil freedom fighter faced intense prejudice growing-up as a teenager in Britain after her family fled war-torn Sri Lanka. In her less well-known artwork, she focuses on how the theme of “otherness” is constructed in modern society (“other” is a term to describe non-majority ethnicities and religions in society)
The concept of “Bad Girls” video can be seen as comment on how “otherness” is constructed in media culture. The location of the video is ostensibly the “Middle East”, the visual cues of the location are identical to those we associate with war, conflict and terrorist threat” – however the video powerfully re-infuses this space with vibrant, spontaneous and open meanings.
Both a trick of the eye and the mind, the video opens us to a re-interpretation of a salient media stereotype – dysfunctional and threatening Islam.
One comment on the Youtube of the video clip by a fan “Thank you MIA for raising awareness of such important issues. While the mainstream media continually creates and sticks to it’s own popular narratives, your music and presence helps to both educate and stop people from forgetting on situations that should never be forgotten. Because of you I’ve been researching the injustice in Sri Lanka and making my friends aware, but still want to do a lot more. I now hope to be a journalist and can’t describe how much of an inspiration you are to me, Peace.”
Moral of this marauding blog, never overlook cultural meaning and significance in what appears to be low culture. We never do.