M.I.A. Born Free videoPerhaps in an attempt to outdo the prison exploitation schlock of Lady Gaga's "Telephone," the NSFW video for M.I.A's track "Born Free" includes highly disturbing visuals. In the video, which takes place in the U.S., police officers go door-to-door, violently rounding up folks you later realize are all redheaded males. The gingers are driven out to the desert, the youngest is executed in front of the others, and the rest are forced at gunpoint to run through a minefield -- a cruel game that leads to them being graphically blown apart.

Because M.I.A has a penchant for mixing politics into her lyrics, this video seems to be designed as a statement on something. But do you think it's effective? Read on to see the director's other controversial music video, and let us know what you think it all means in the comments.




What Do You Think About M.I.A's 'Born Free' Video?
It makes a good point -- man does have a capacity for bigotry and cruelty320 (51.0%)
It's offensive -- nothing that goes on in America suggests this could happen96 (15.3%)
Whatever -- they're just having fun by pushing buttons93 (14.8%)
What a great idea -- gingers should be rounded up and killed118 (18.8%)


It's difficult to argue that the video for "Born Free" makes a coherent (and relevant), larger point. Yes, human beings have long displayed the capacity to discriminate based on appearance. But even the most paranoid tin-foil-hat wearer would have trouble believing anything close to what is depicted in the video could happen to any group of people in the United States -- now, or in the near future.

Some have suggested that what the video is trying to do is make those watching consider what goes on in other countries that we don't usually think very much about -- for example, M.I.A's native home of Sri Lanka, which is perpetually ravaged by brutal ethnic and sectarian strife.

It's important, however, to look at the director's previous work. In 2008, Romain Gavras did an equally controversial video for the French electro-dance band Justice. In it, African and Arab gang members systematically terrorize everyone around them in a Paris suburb. No reason is given for the rampage, and the totality of the video could be propaganda for ultra-nationalist anti-immigration French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen.


Gavras, however, called the clip a reaction to the over-the-top, exploitative way the French press covered the riots that took place in France's immigrant neighborhoods between 2005 and 2007.

So does this mean his latest video is mocking the exaggerated fears of Tea Partiers who believe that the government is hell-bent on taking away their freedoms? Or is it a comment that the new, anti-illegal-immigrant measures in Arizona will somehow lead to Mexicans being rounded up and forced to run to their deaths? Doubtful.

In fact, the most likely explanation is that Gavras just likes to shoot videos that show jarring, up-close acts of extreme and hauntingly organized and personalized violence. But, he also politicizes his images, because that'll get the folks chattering and drive eyeballs to his work -- a formula that would appeal to M.I.A, who's got a faux-revolutionary thing going on herself.