The many sides of M.I.A.

by Laurie Henzel

After reading the big profile on M.I.A. in the Sunday New York Times Magazine, I kept thinking that this was not going to be good for M.I.A. I love her music, and have always admired her “in your face” style, and for taking a stand for the Tamil’s in the civil war in Sri Lanka, and lets face it, there is a risk in standing up for what you believe in. But the writer, Lynne Hirschberg was particularly astute at calling out the problems with M.I.A’s politics, how she supports the Tamil Tigers, who use terrorist tactics, and painting her as a naïve, truffle-french-fry-eating, self absorbed, rich rock star who is not in touch with the facts. So how much was taken out of context, and what was real?

Lynne Hirshberg has a history of riling up celebrities – remember her Courtney Love article for Vanity Fair in the 90s and the debacle that ensued? Today on her NEET Recordings blog, M.I.A. released some audio tape of the interview with Hirschberg and shows that it was in fact Lynne that ordered the dreaded truffle fries, not M.I.A, and links to articles about the plight of Tamils and how tens of thousands are being killed by the Sri Lankan government. And last week she tweeted Hirshbergs cell phone number in a bratty attempt to retaliate.

M.I.A. is full of contradictions, which is what makes her so interesting. While I do think the article has to some extent lessened her credibility (the whole fascination with the Givenchy, “millions of dollars’ worth of gold jewelry” turned me off a bit), I don’t think all this press will hurt her record sales one bit, and it doesn’t make me love her, or her music any less.

She’s not a politician, like she says in her new song “I’m a singer,” and I’m glad she’s sticking her neck out for her beliefs, she is one of the very few that actually do.

M.I.A.s new album out in July on Interscope, you can hear a few tracks on her blog here.

Photo: Ryan McGinley for The New York Times

M.I.A.’s Agitprop Pop (NYT)

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