Maya’s fiancé, Ben Bronfman, son of the Warner Music Group chief executive and Seagram’s heir Edgar Bronfman Jr.
What Maya wants is nearly impossible to achieve: she wants to balance outrageous political statements with a luxe lifestyle; to be supersuccessful yet remain controversial; for style to merge with substance. “If you want to be huge, you have to give up a lot,” Michelle Jubelirer, Maya’s longtime lawyer, told me. “Maya vacillates between wanting to be huge and maintaining her artistic integrity. That’s her dilemma.”
compare THIS Lynn Hirschberg piece about Megan Fox to the piece on MIA without being familiar with the work of either and you could come away with the opinion that Fox was the superior talent.
Unlike, say, her performance at the Grammys, which was a perfect fusion of spectacle (a nine-months-pregnant woman rapping in a see-through dress) with content (Maya’s fervor was linked to the music), the video for “Born Free” feels exploitative and hollow. Seemingly designed to be banned on YouTube, which it was instantly, the video is set in Los Angeles where a vague but apparently American militia forcibly search out red-headed men and one particularly beautiful red-headed child. The gingers, as Maya called them, using British slang, are taken to the desert, where they are beaten and killed. The first to die is the child, who is shot in the head. While “Born Free” is heard in the background throughout, the song is lost in the carnage. As a meditation on prejudice and senseless persecution, the video is, at best, politically naïve.
I thought it was interesting how M.I.A. here comes across as a vapid twit. I didn't even register that from Hirschberg's writing
It seems to me so evidently the case that Hitchens is an alcoholic that to say much more feels unnecessary. But for the record, he trots out all the usual self-serving, defensive evasions: "For me, an alcoholic is someone who can't hold his drink" or, "I'm not dependent, but I'd prefer not to be without it." The longest he has ever been was a dry weekend "in fucking Libya", and he claims he drinks only to make other people less boring. So, presumably, he doesn't drink when he's with Amis? "Er, yuh, I do."
“I can’t talk about Gaga anymore,” she said. “All I’ll say is, it’s upsetting when babies say ga-ga now. It used to be innocent. Now, they’re calling her name.”
"Bullshit, Lynn Hirschberg! You know that is bullshit! You also pointed out that she got some "olive bread," like it was soooo bourgeois! It's abundantly clear that a journalist of Lynn Hirschberg's caliber knew exactly what that truffle-flavored french fry represented to readers: nearly unforgiveable hypocrisy. Which is not to say that M.I.A. may not still be a hypocrite. She lives in Brentwood, she's insanely rich, she married an insanely rich music exec's son, she's not incredibly sharp on the ins and outs of Sri Lankan politics, etc. The profile was very good! But still. The fry thing was the best line in the whole story, and it was a setup.
The first is that she likes to remind us, at every opportunity, that the world is full of political violence, poverty, death, and injustice. That people are rounded up and shot, that people are born and live and die in refugee camps, that whole populations are terrorized. That in a lot of the world, this kind of stuff is, perversely, "normal." These aren't outrageous comments, and in a lot of ways they're not even political; they're pretty much just statements of verifiable fact. They're even important enough that it's hard to accuse her of being ham-fisted or simplistic or a broken record about them. They can only become outrageous if she follows them with concrete statements about what should be done, something I have very rarely seen her do. Unless, of course, the statement is "listen to me."
In that sense, her lack of sophistication sort of balances itself out: Her political thinking might not always be subtle, but she tends not to say much that requires a ton of subtlety anyway. (Even provocations like "give war a chance" are so blurry-- and so directed at a safe audience-- that they work more like gestures.) It's pretty hard to be wrong about saying "people live in refugee camps"-- and, to her credit, she's involved herself in direct action beyond just saying so. Again, the risk she runs isn't usually wrongness; it's the risk of looking stupid, or disappointing folks who think you should have something nuanced or substantive to say beyond that. And hey, maybe that's other people's problem.
Hirschberg’s sloppy contextualizing of the politics of M.I.A.’s actions swings between flat-out wrong and incomplete. The profile also misses some of its meatiest material by not discussing the occasions on which the singer specifically chose to make statements about her native Sri Lanka—and sometimes seriously flubbed them.
Last spring, as the war in Sri Lanka hurtled toward a brutal finish after more than a quarter-century of violence, M.I.A. volunteered herself as its definitive Tamil spokesperson. In an appearance on Tavis Smiley’s PBS show (as quoted in an earlier Times article), she said, “Being the only Tamil in the Western media, I have a really great opportunity to sort of bring forward what’s going on in Sri Lanka.” So what kind of spokesperson is she? A profile of her could have been great explanatory journalism about both the conflict and the artist.
Instead the piece treats Sri Lankan politics as too complicated for readers to understand (and perhaps her last name is too; in a weird departure from Times style, M.I.A., whose full name is Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, is referred to as “Maya” throughout). Instead of dealing with anything hard, the article juxtaposes the musician’s wealth with her desire to be an outsider and promote social justice, as though those things were incompatible. I must have missed the part where we don’t want rich people to care about others.
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