Wednesday, 20 May 2009
Time to get political.
M.I.A has always tried to promote the situation in Sri Lanka, but given her more recent increased media exposure, she has really put her popularity on the line to stand up for what she believes in.
I'm sure most managers would have sat M.I.A down months ago and said to her: "You've made it! You've performed at the Grammys with Jay-Z and Lil Wayne ... you're a household name... you're one of Time Magazines most influential people of 2009... now don't do anything that might offend people if you want to remain successful."
So many musicians who have 'made it' change their stand on issues they were once passionate about, in the interest of being inoffensive. The less you upset people, the more likely you are to be popular. But occasionally, an artist comes along to show us how important it is to be true to what you believe in.
Bjorke was banned from performing in China when she stood up for Tibetan rights last year. I hope that none of M.I.A's political activism affects her career. She is one talented and intelligent lady.
M.I.A is of Tamil origin, so you'd expect her to have some bias on the situation... but I'm sure that if it wasn't for her, the conflict in this country wouldn't have received as much media attention (particularly as journalists have been kicked out and there is a media ban).
M.I.A has used her Twitter account, media & event appearances, and music to promote the atrocities that have been occurring in Sri Lanka (A message from M.I.A's blog about the Time Magazine Influential People event read: MICHELLE OBAMA GAVE A SPEECH AND THERE WAS MAD SECRET SERVICE IN THE AIR SO I DIDNT GET TO THROW A PAPER PLANE AT HER SAYING "STOP THE BOMBING OF THE TAMILS IN SRI LANKA")
M.I.A on the fusion of politics in her music:
"Nobody wants to be dancing to political songs. Every bit of music out there that’s making it into the mainstream is really about nothing. I wanted to see if I could write songs about something important and make it sound like nothing. And it kind of worked."
It is so easy to become consumed in one very small genre / tribe / community, and to have the culture and information that is fed in & out of that group become the only information you ever hear. So many of us consume masses of useless words on a daily basis, that we have no time left for actually contemplating what it must be like for the people living through political turmoil at the moment.
So, I'm all for people using fame (and the access to media that it brings) to push their political views. Thousands of artists use media in all its forms on a daily basis to push their own agendas, so why not use that same media to promote a cause? I'm glad there are artists like M.I.A out there who aren't afraid to do so. And as she's done most of it via Twitter and blogs - if you're offended, you don't have to subscribe.
If you don't know much about what's been going on, check out this video via VBS:
I really enjoyed this article from Village Voice which discusses the complications around M.I.A's stand on the Civil War.
And if you'd like to read what is perhaps the most inappropriate headline in relation to the Sri Lankan situation (via M.I.A's Twitter), check this one out from UK's Telegraph: "Sri Lanka: end of conflict could boost tourism"