so a few weeks ago, or something, the New York Times Magazine ran what basically ammounted to a smackdown of MIA. the crux of the article is: bitch be phony; bitch be stupid.
pitchfork was right on it, with their standard "i agree, but i don't agree, so whatever you think you can't get mad at me" approach (which the writer most likely picked up from the NY Times). nitsuh abebe (i wonder why tom breihan wasn't tapped for this piece...) takes the position that while being outspokenly political is fine, being supportive of violent resistence to oppression is STUPID!!! in the end, her music is good, but her beliefs are retarded, and abebe thinks you should enjoy the former and ignore the latter. it's a long and winding piece that manages to completely avoid taking a stance (aside from, of course, support for resistence is dumb -- vote obama!).
for a better written version of more or less the same reaction, click over to pandagon, where amanda marcotte has been fighting the good fight for years and years. i like amanda marcotte, i read her blog a lot. i like what she says about authenticity and music in the linked post: "The purity wars, the authenticity cruising, the impossible standards of perfection, the requirement that musicians and artists who have political content in their art be these Jesus-like figures of political perfection---all that kills the music. And ironically distracts from what is pure and authentic about music, which is the feeling it gives you." it's unfortunate that she finds the need to say that MIA's beliefs are "childish and irresponsible and insensitive". she astutely points to the age-old past-time of marginalizing overtly political women by calling them phony and stupid, but she still can't get through the article without participating in it herself.
i don't love MIA's music. to me it sounds like dolled up reggaeton, which is fine, but hardly mind-bending. i DO, however, think it's fantastic that there is a proudly anti-imperial voice in our culture which has reached millions of people. the belief that powerful people are wrong when they kill and oppress weak people is always viewed as naive. it takes moral courage to say what MIA has said (and more courage still not to back down when challenged by some hack at the Times), and we are a society that, broadly speaking, lacks moral courage. so then: fuck governments, fuck police, fuck armies, and up with artists who say as much.
on a slightly related note: i have this cousin? and she writes for the New York Times? like, the business section? and she has this, like, great education? and years of journalism experience? and she still talks, you know, like this? where the two things you can count on from her sentences are the word "like" and an upward inflection?
of course, no one would ever accuse her of having hypocritical deeply held beliefs. in fact, i don't know if anyone would accuse her of having deeply held beliefs at all (hence her success in the corporate world). anyone who gets angry at the mass-murder of the poorest people on the planet (say, afghans or, i dunno... tamils) is quickly shunted aside. if such a person has those beliefs and becomes successful ON HER OWN, then you can bet your ass that she will be bought off (take a grammy!) only to be ridiculed for her hypocrisy by people who wouldn't know a principled human being if they were hired to write a hit-piece on her.
does that make sense?
i'm never the least bit surprised to find that someone else on the internet has written what i wanted to say in a more coherent style and with vastly superior reasoning, and i tend to avoid linking to them because such writing often makes me feel dumb. anyway, here's andrew potter ripping the times interview to shreds.