Saturday, February 5, 2011

MIA- Born Free

MIA's song Born Free was released with a video in April 2010. The video is notable for its depiction of a dystopic future in which male Gingers (red-headed people) are hunted down by paramilitary teams, taken to desert compounds, and murdered. The cruelty and violence depicted isn't any worse than what has really happened to select groups in the past, but the video's message is only strengthened by that. By bringing persecution into a new and fictional context, and one which isn't based on historical roots, the video was able to affect me differently than if it had relied on a demonstration of violence against a group of people that historically had suffered from persecution. In some ways, because persecution of gingers is devoid of context, the video was able to make it seem more arbitrary, although obviously it isn't so. The video also plays on other classic images of persecuted minorities. In shots of the city, graffiti espousing the ginger cause covers the walls, and groups of gingers throw bottles and rocks at the buses being used to carry prisoners. Interestingly, their faces are covered with scarves, which plays on the imagery of masked Arab civilians resisting occupation in the Middle East. When this conflict is recontextualized into the a fight between gingers and oppressors, I found myself cheering for the rebels instead of the armed guards. In a discussion with my friends, we decided that although American rhetoric demonizes the tactics of terrorism, and categorizes rebellious rock-throwers into this image, it's really the people involved, and not the tactics, that matter. Overall MIA's video does a great job of forcing the viewer to re-examine their perceptions of persecution by using an example devoid of context. It's also pretty entertaining.
To watch, follow the link:


  1. This video was beautifully put together. As someone who loves watching great video editing and cinematography, I was thoroughly impressed by the shots used to capture this video's message. This video, to me, shows the overall idiotic nature of persecution. No matter what someone looks like, talks like, acts like or whatever, no one deserves this type of treatment. It puts all of the larger scale stuff into perception because all around the world their are people persecuting others who they feel are inferior. MIA's video shows this and brings to light how stupid senseless murder of people who are different from you (even in the most arbitrary of ways; like having different hair color) is completely, utterly, and absurdly a ridiculous concept. Overall it was an interesting video with great cinematography and a great message of human equality and how some groups waiver from this principle.

  2. When I was on wikipedia looking up some follow up information on this video, I was surprised to see that the young actor in the picture above asserted that "She was trying to show violence to end violence." In some ways I'm inclined to agree. The most shocking part of this video may not even be the murder of innocents, or their extravagent cause of death (running through a live minefield no less) but the image of the murder of a child. The video seems to claim that violence against adults and men is so commonplace that the only effective way to convey the message is by breaking taboo. I also agree that the visual elements of the video augmented the message. Nothing screams chaos quite as much as vomit-inducing shaky handheld camera work does


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