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:http://vimeo.com/11219730