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"If she wants to get together with John at Bard next week, I have his number."
May 27, 2010 1:26 PM   Subscribe

In response to a long and partially unflattering New York Times profile, M.I.A. (previously on MetaFilter) tweeted a phone number with the message "CALL ME IF YOU WANNA TALK TO ME ABOUT THE N Y T TRUTH ISSUE". That phone number belonged to the woman who wrote the article, Lynn Hirschberg (waaaaay previously). Hirschberg responds.
posted by Rory Marinich (162 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Real class.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:34 PM on May 27, 2010


C, WAA
posted by zarq at 1:36 PM on May 27, 2010


Not nearly as funny as when LeVar Burton accidentally tweeted his own phone number back in March.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:37 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow, what a shitty move.
posted by OmieWise at 1:37 PM on May 27, 2010


Wow..
Maya’s fiancé, Ben Bronfman, son of the Warner Music Group chief executive and Seagram’s heir Edgar Bronfman Jr.
posted by Chuckles at 1:39 PM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


In her defense, the parts of that profile I read were pretty much just a series of sophomoric cheap shots- harping on her having the nerve to live in a nice neighborhood, or eat at nice restaurants (which I'm sure were chosen by the reporter.)
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:39 PM on May 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


There are some great juxtapositions in that article. Still, MIA's music is awesome, so people need to cut her some slack.

STRIKE MATCH LIGHT FIRE
posted by chunking express at 1:41 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Waaaaay back when music only came on vinyl there was a mastering technician (or 'cutter'), George Peckham, known as 'Porky'. He'd often scratch 'A Porky prime cut' into the centre blank vinyl, after the track had ended.

On Elvis Costellos' first album he put a message that this record was a competition winner and to claim the prize, ring the number that followed. (scroll down to 'hidden messages) It was a total hoax and the number was for a PR at Costello's record company, Stiff, who if I remember, had pissed him off for some reason.

Popular album > loads of phone calls > He never mastered for Stiff again, but is still working today. Discography.
posted by dowcrag at 1:41 PM on May 27, 2010 [21 favorites]


That Amanda Latona article is one of the greatest things ever.

I was expecting this recent Hirschberg piece to be more of a hatchet job than it was. MIA is being very silly and not very nice, but we're talking about her, so...I guess...she wins?
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:42 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


With a little splash of good old fashioned NYT condescension and willful misunderstanding of L.A. thrown in for good measure.

I wonder if Ms. Hirshberg would be as offended if MIA chose to live in THE BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN, HOME TO THE "WALL STREET" FINANCIAL CENTER AND SOME OF THE RICHEST WHITE MEN IN THE WORLD!111one
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:43 PM on May 27, 2010 [12 favorites]


Pop Star Has Access to Twitter, Poor Impulse Control.
posted by availablelight at 1:44 PM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Anybody have a link to the Hirschberg Vanity Fair piece on Courtney Love? I've been googling a bit and can't seem to turn it up.

I really like MIA, but this seems like a childish thing to pull. That being said, if she can turn up a verifiably true unedited interview transcript that turns out to make this piece look like the exact opposite of truth, that would be pretty cool. Unlikely, but cool.
posted by nevercalm at 1:44 PM on May 27, 2010


Hack tabloid journalist gets hacked. Maybe it's karma.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:45 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


nevercalm: Anybody have a link to the Hirschberg Vanity Fair piece on Courtney Love?

http://homepage.mac.com/kia/magick/courtney.html
posted by Houyhnhnm at 1:46 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


In her defense, the parts of that profile I read were pretty much just a series of sophomoric cheap shots- harping on her having the nerve to live in a nice neighborhood,

From the article:
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.”
The writer is explaining that dichotomy.

or eat at nice restaurants (which I'm sure were chosen by the reporter.)

They're usually chosen by a publicist, at the request of the talent. The reporter will be asked if the venue is acceptable, but the interviewee usually gets final say.
posted by zarq at 1:47 PM on May 27, 2010 [18 favorites]


drjimmy11: “In her defense, the parts of that profile I read were pretty much just a series of sophomoric cheap shots- harping on her having the nerve to live in a nice neighborhood, or eat at nice restaurants (which I'm sure were chosen by the reporter.)”

Yeah, what an awful article. The Frank Zappa rule of rock journalism applies here; I can't stand MIA, who's as full of herself as ever, but the author just comes off as snide and sarcastic. Why write such a piece? I guess she got stuck with the assignment.
posted by koeselitz at 1:47 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The article's a pretty fascinating takedown of MIA's hollow political posturing.

NY Mag summary. The interesting revelations were that her dad was never a Tamil Tiger (by her own admission), and that (by Diplo's admission) the whole terrorist thing was just a gimmick from the very beginning. Empty provocation.
posted by naju at 1:48 PM on May 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


Nevercalm: Et voila!

I think my favorite part of the article was the description of how MIA looks at the parody Telephone video and mourns how it's more popular than her music is. Kind of demeans the whole "I'm a srs artist look at my integrity" thing when you spend your time trying to be controversial so people'll talk about you.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:48 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Strange Love" by Lynn Hirschberg, Vanity Fair, September 1992
posted by yeti at 1:48 PM on May 27, 2010


Dang... my google is too slow.
posted by yeti at 1:49 PM on May 27, 2010


A jillion years ago David Letterman used to say (I'm paraphrasing) "I have a theory about Madonna... She loves to shock." This was when Madonna couldn't seem to release any single or music video without Nightline-level, "who will think of the children?!?" news coverage.

I think that M.I.A. loves to shock.
posted by artlung at 1:50 PM on May 27, 2010


Your favorite offspring of a Tamil Tiger (oops, not) sucks.
posted by fixedgear at 1:51 PM on May 27, 2010


"The messages have mostly been from people trying to hook up with M.I.A.," she said. "If she wants to get together with John at Bard next week, I have his number."

In its own way, this suggests that M.I.A. sort of failed.

Also, "Paper Planes" makes me want to die a little bit. No problem if you like it and I'm not judging her fans or anything, but that particular song hurts my soul. Every time I hear it I have to go into a dark room with It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back to wash it off my heart. YMMV.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:52 PM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


“I kind of want to be an outsider,” she said, eating a truffle-flavored French fry.

Okay, well, that's a pretty obvious cheap shot, because honestly if you say anything serious before putting a truffle-flavored french fry into your mouth, you're going to sound like an idiot.

"I'm really worried about that meteor about to hit," she said, eating a truffle-flavored french fry.

As manipulative as the text is -- well, it's not that it's manipulative because I don't think the writer is being conniving about her opinion on the matter -- her point, that poorly understood rhetoric and history can be dangerous when disseminated by pop stars, is a pretty valid one.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:53 PM on May 27, 2010 [18 favorites]


The NYT article is truly terrible. Apparently you can't make money and make political statements at the same time, or something? I guess you just need to live a totally vapid and decadent lifestyle or the NYT will not approve. Vapid political statements are apparently the sole domain of American journalism.

Maya’s tirade, typical in the way it moved from the political to the personal and back again, was interrupted by a waiter, who offered her a variety of rolls. She chose the olive bread.

What is this even supposed to mean?

And yes, "Paper Planes" is probably the most overplayed single of whatever this decade is called.
posted by mek at 1:53 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wonder if Ms. Hirshberg would be as offended if MIA chose to live in THE BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN, HOME TO THE "WALL STREET" FINANCIAL CENTER AND SOME OF THE RICHEST WHITE MEN IN THE WORLD!111one

Yeah, Manhattan and Brentwood really aren't analogous.
posted by The World Famous at 1:53 PM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'd say that MIA seems ridiculously unpleasant, self-important and ignorant...but frankly I'm afraid of her.

You go, girl! Keep up the good work, MIA forever, etc.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:54 PM on May 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yawwwwwwwwwwwn.

* stretch *

Man, 5pm cannot come quickly enough today.
posted by everichon at 1:57 PM on May 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


Wow, I came here to say how great that NYT article is and everyone else is saying it's terrible. Yeah, it's a Sunday Magazine article, a bit puffy with a "we're hanging out with the stars!" sort of theme to it. But M.I.A. is fascinating and Hirschberg does a good job of conveying a picture of the artist. So many contradictions, complications, and ultimately M.I.A. doesn't have to give a fuck. Geez, even the Diplo quotes are full of interesting awkwardness.

Maybe I liked the article because I simultaneously loathe M.I.A.'s radical chic gimmick and yet love her image, her brand, and most importantly her music. The NYT piece captures that contradiction for me.
posted by Nelson at 1:58 PM on May 27, 2010 [12 favorites]


Yeah.. yet another typically annoying MetaHipster response to yet another article about yet another shitty pop star who will fade away as fast as every other pop artist.
posted by ReeMonster at 2:01 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I haven't read the whole article (I'm at work and all that time is allocated to arguing about Lost), but it seems to me that M.I.A.'s fans are inclined to interpret things in the article as pointing out some sort of hypocrisy on her part, when it read to me more as, "this is an interesting contrast." I don't think anyone is suggesting that you can't be interested in the plight of the oppressed and enjoy some delicious fries.
posted by neuromodulator at 2:02 PM on May 27, 2010


Hm, I like MIA but I knew things would get a tad Zoolander when she took up with a Bronfman.

Anyhow this seems like what I'd expect from the NYT. It's not a puff piece, it has some well observed snark and some insights into the lifestyle of a well to do and popular artist who likes to telegraph that she sleeps in a hammock in the jungle cradling a pink and orange AK-47.

p.s. Isn't Gaga just marvelous?
posted by fleetmouse at 2:04 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The interesting revelations were that her dad was never a Tamil Tiger (by her own admission), and that (by Diplo's admission) the whole terrorist thing was just a gimmick from the very beginning. Empty provocation.

Gimmick, yes. Empty, no. And this whole thing was obvious from the beginning. Were MIA's varieties of complexity too much for Hirschberg? Anyway, I'm still a fangirl, even if she is marrying a Bronfmann. Who made their fortunes by bootlegging during Prohibition, btw, demonstrating that the categories of criminal and high-profile wealthy family are fluid as they've always been. In other words, attacking MIA for not being politically consistent seems to kind of miss the point.
posted by jokeefe at 2:04 PM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, and I'll just add: "truffle" oil is wrong and false and overused and can we be done with "truffle" oil now? Thank you.

If she was eating fries made with actual truffles, I am duly surprised and impressed.

Fuckin' 2,4-dithiapentane, how's that work?
posted by everichon at 2:07 PM on May 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


In the old days a journalist could say whatever they liked about anybody, and there was no way to respond to them. Letters to the editor often don't make it. So they sit in their crystal case high up in a Manhattan office building, like a stuffed pigeon.
posted by Sukiari at 2:07 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


who will fade away as fast as every other pop artist.

I haven't noticed any consistent fade-away period for pop artists.
posted by The World Famous at 2:07 PM on May 27, 2010


p.s. Isn't Gaga just marvelous?

I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not, but yes! Yes, she is!
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:08 PM on May 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


Yeah.. yet another typically annoying MetaHipster response to yet another article about yet another shitty pop star who will fade away as fast as every other pop artist.

Insulting hipsters while trashing a musician for being popular?

I think we've spotted the hipster here! Everybody tackle ReeMonster!
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:08 PM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah.. yet another typically annoying MetaHipster response to yet another article about yet another shitty pop star who will fade away as fast as every other pop artist.

Yet ANOTHER typically annoying MetaMetaHipster response to yet another article about yet another shitty comment who will fade away as fast as every other comment.
posted by mek at 2:09 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought I liked M.I.A., but then I discovered that I really like Diplo and M.I.A. just did some vocals on some of his tracks.
posted by mullingitover at 2:10 PM on May 27, 2010 [19 favorites]


koselitz: The Frank Zappa rule of rock journalism applies here

People who cannot write interviewing people who cannot talk.

God damn do I miss Frank Zappa. He could talk and write. Was listening to the "Mothers of Prevention" today - the LP Zappa made in the mid-80s during the infamous Tipper Gore hearings. Utter brilliance. Both the composition and the social commentary.

And the teenagers today are stuck with this M.I.A. person.
posted by three blind mice at 2:11 PM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yet ANOTHER typ

F/X: A needle scratches off the record

The out-of-doors, they beckon me.
posted by everichon at 2:11 PM on May 27, 2010


Wow, I came here to say how great that NYT article is and everyone else is saying it's terrible.

I didn't hate it but having read it, I'm more struck by Hirschberg's point than anything about the writing or MIA herself --- MIA seems like she might get people killed, that she's placed herself in a rhetorical position where she benefits personally and artistically by espousing a polarizing view.

When it's Madonna and it's 1986, who cares, because she's trotting out virgin/whore dichotomy or wearing cone-shaped bras and people are in a tither -- fine. But when an artist is funneling additional attention into a complicated and easily misunderstood political situation they can be contributing to a kind of simplistic viewpoint that gets people killed.

She probably believes sincerely in her viewpoint, I'm not saying she doesn't, but the problem is that viewpoint is sort of self-sustaining when it's already part of a whole persona.

Oh, and I'll just add: "truffle" oil is wrong and false and overused and can we be done with "truffle" oil now? Thank you.

I noticed that it was "truffle-flavored" fries and took that to be a suggestion of tastelessness. Like "cheese-flavored." "Even her fries are fake" was what I took to be the subtext.

I love deconstructing pop culture articles from the NY Times. I could do this all day. It's like a sickness.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:11 PM on May 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Maya feels that Gaga is not original, that she mostly borrows from the Abba playbook, and she gets annoyed when Gaga is compared to Madonna. “You can’t really say that Gaga is culturally a change,” Maya said. “Madonna was truly unique.” Gavras nodded. “And Madonna was pretty,” he said. “Pop stars should be pretty.”

I would be willing to bet large sums of money that someone that superficial will have a shitload of plastic surgery over the next decade.
posted by euphorb at 2:11 PM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm only halfway through the article so far, but it doesn't seem all that critical or damning to me. I don't think there's anything wrong with where Maya's living or who fathered her child. I didn't really pick up that the journalist did either. Maybe I'm deaf to the subtext?
posted by ODiV at 2:12 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think MIA is over-rated and immature, and thought that before reading this. However, thanks to Dowcrag's earlier comment and a bit of wikipedia-drift....

I have now been introduced to the existence of The free record given away with the Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief, (cut by George Peckham), which featured two concentric spirals on side 2 (so what you heard depended on exactly where the needle was put down). Making it a 3 sided album. Without a track listing, and with both sides labelled "side 2"...

What a great idea. Almost worth tracking down a copy and then buying a record player.
posted by handee at 2:13 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


And yes, "Paper Planes" is probably the most overplayed single of whatever this decade is called.

Yeah, especially when you consider that "World Town" off the same album is a vastly cooler song.
posted by quin at 2:13 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hack tabloid journalist gets hacked. Maybe it's karma.

Ah, yes, those well-known disreputable tabloids the New York Times and Vanity Fair.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 2:16 PM on May 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


Kind of demeans the whole "I'm a srs artist look at my integrity" thing when you spend your time trying to be controversial so people'll talk about you.

To be fair it can't be much of a controversy if no one's talking about anything. She has some controversial causes she deals with in her music in a way designed to draw attention to certain issues, so one would imagine it's no reflection on her integrity or lack thereof that she wants people talking about her music and videos.

Interesting the reaction to M.I.A. here compared to Lady Gaga though--personally I'd use adjectives like original, though-provoking, and artistically challenging for M.I.A. long before I'd use the same for Gaga, but there's no accounting for taste I guess.
posted by Kirk Grim at 2:20 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


If Hirschberg didn't want to get punked by angry celebs, she probably should have stayed out of the whole celebrity gossip game, huh?
posted by steambadger at 2:23 PM on May 27, 2010


Even after reading the piece (which absolutely did have some cheap shots but also captured the flaws and gifts and contradictions of the actual person named Maya behind M.I.A. the Famous Artist), I'm surprised at just how fucking childish M.I.A. showed herself to be.

She could have responded in many other ways. The response she chose makes the ugliest part of that article--self-promotion through any convenient controversy, reality and other people be damned--seem more believable.
posted by sallybrown at 2:26 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


People who cannot write interviewing people who cannot talk ... for people who cannot read.

Might as well get the whole thing in there, eh?
posted by hap_hazard at 2:26 PM on May 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


I've got no dog in this game, but clicking through on the Her most recent article was about Megan Fox link yields up yet another reference to truffled French fries, which I found sort of funny, in a "truffled French fries as lietmotif" way.

Or am I totally oblivious and missed the "truffles negate the French fry calories" nutritional study?
posted by romakimmy at 2:26 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Looking at the positive, this was one of the most literate things I've ever read from M.I.A's twitter feed.

I also really loved how she got offended when word leaked that she named her baby "Ickitt", when in reality, she named him "Ikhyd". Good times.
posted by dnesan at 2:28 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Interesting the reaction to M.I.A. here compared to Lady Gaga though--personally I'd use adjectives like original, though-provoking, and artistically challenging for M.I.A. long before I'd use the same for Gaga, but there's no accounting for taste I guess.

I kind of like M.I.A. She's nowhere near as catchy as Gaga, and that's about all I care about in my pop music — she lacks the hooks and the lyrical flow that Gaga has — but I agree that insofar as we're concerning ourselves with "originality" she's more so musically. Certainly not as a personality. We've had irritating celebrities attempting political commentary since I first learned to register irritation.

But 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 — I don't care if a musician's rich. But the way she speaks, that irritating string-halfbaked-thoughts-and-sound-profound that comes across every time she speaks anywhere, is annoying as all hell, and I wasn't at all surprised to find that she followed that up with a lot of self-serving narcissism. Because that's what it is. If it was really about her causes she'd have the humility to realize there are better ways of using celebrity to push political causes. Maybe a part of her cares about that, but just as big a part of her wants to be a pop star like anybody else.

(I'm sure I'm not the only one who likes how completely bullshit-free Gaga is. She doesn't aim petty swipes at other musicians, even the ones like M.I.A. that swipe at her; she has no illusions about her music or about celebrity in general; the one message she pushes is overwhelming acceptance and love for her fans, no matter what they look like or act like. That's about as much as I want in a pop icon.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:29 PM on May 27, 2010 [21 favorites]


"Fairly unethical" is probably overstating your case. That's cool that she's not going to change her number. I don't know how she won't, but that's an interesting response. She should just turn it off, save the voicemails, and then turn it into something zingeriffic.

Kind of weak on M.I.A.'s part. Kind of sucks for fans too - If I hadn't known, I sure would have called her up and been mad disappointed when this axe grindy writer answered sounding annoyed.
posted by cashman at 2:30 PM on May 27, 2010


Paper Planes" makes me want to die a little bit.

I always think it's going to be "Straight to Hell" and for an instant am surprised that a club/stadium/radio is going to play that song.
posted by cell divide at 2:30 PM on May 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


In the old days a journalist could say whatever they liked about anybody, and there was no way to respond to them.

Sure there were.

Letters to the editor often don't make it.

Sure they did. Most magazines would (and still do) print edited responses from the subjects of their articles in their letters page, or in the Corrections section. Usually what happens is the letter also gets a one or two line rebuttal (or more, as needed) from the article's author.

Alternatively, a person could take out an ad (still known to happen, although the publication, as always, gets final approval.) The interviewee could also do a favorable interview with a competing media outlet, if possible.

The axiom "Never argue with anyone who buys ink by the barrel" still applies, of course. :)

So they sit in their crystal case high up in a Manhattan office building, like a stuffed pigeon.

They practically get paid in birdseed, so that's a decent analogy.
posted by zarq at 2:31 PM on May 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


If Hirschberg didn't want to get punked by angry celebs, she probably should have stayed out of the whole celebrity gossip game, huh?

Profile of a famous person =/= In Touch Weekly Brangelina cover story.

Or maybe I'm wrong, and Gay Telese deserved to get punked big-time by Frank Sinatra's mafia buddies. (Not that Hirschberg's piece comes close to the greatness that is "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold.")
posted by sallybrown at 2:31 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sure I'm not the only one who likes how completely bullshit-free Gaga is.

For me, she's completely bullshit.
posted by cashman at 2:33 PM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


three blind mice: "(Rock journalism is) people who cannot write interviewing people who cannot talk"

Zappa's quote is so wonderful, even now, let's get all the clauses in there: "Rock journalism is people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk, in order to provide articles for people who can't read." - Frank Zappa (source)
...
Oh, also, when I posted about MIA loving to shock a la Madonna, I hadn't seen how much Madonna is cited in the article as a direct influence on MIA.
posted by artlung at 2:34 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


When MIA announced she was quitting the music industry a while ago (before deciding to unretire) I was kinda impressed.

Except now I find out she married into the Bronfmans...
posted by PenDevil at 2:37 PM on May 27, 2010


"M.I.A. Still Has Nothing on Courtney Love When It Comes to Hating Lynn Hirschberg" — NYMag
posted by Houyhnhnm at 2:46 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


"self-serving narcissism"... "vapid twit"... "halfbaked"... "better ways of using celebrity to push political causes"... "wants to be a pop star like anybody else"

If it wasn't for the feminine I'd swear you were talking about Johnny Rotten, Rory. I guess that means I take your point about irritating celebrities pushing political causes.
posted by Kirk Grim at 2:47 PM on May 27, 2010


Or maybe I'm wrong, and Gay Telese deserved to get punked big-time by Frank Sinatra's mafia buddies. (Not that Hirschberg's piece comes close to the greatness that is "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold.")

Nice find! It's part of a group of seven reprinted articles from Esquire that would make an awesome FPP. :)
posted by zarq at 2:48 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


"“I wasn’t trying to be like Bono,” Maya told me. “He’s not from Africa — I’m from there"

I'm confused - when exactly did Sri Lanka become part of the African continent?
posted by HopperFan at 2:52 PM on May 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


I guess I'll just be the lone dissenter and tell you all that Paper Planes is fucking great. I don't go anywhere that overplays anything really, but the song is damn, damn good. There are approximately 10 billion worse songs that get played a lot. That is all.
posted by haveanicesummer at 2:58 PM on May 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


If you have a serious beef with a journalist, man up, grab your baseball bat and say a quick prayer to Evel Knievel.
posted by fixedgear at 2:59 PM on May 27, 2010


With regard to Lynn taking cheap shots.. how can you NOT take a cheap shot at MIA? Laughable.
posted by ReeMonster at 2:59 PM on May 27, 2010


Nice find! It's part of a group of seven reprinted articles from Esquire that would make an awesome FPP. :)

Doh!
posted by zarq at 3:11 PM on May 27, 2010


Lynn Hirschberg... Lynn... Hirschberg. Now where have I heard that name before? Oh that's right.
posted by saturnine at 3:11 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Which I see someone already mentioned upthread! Snarky comment foiled! DO OVER: I have no sympathy for either side. It's not like anyone's kid is getting taken away this time.
posted by saturnine at 3:13 PM on May 27, 2010


Maya’s fiancé, Ben Bronfman, son of the Warner Music Group chief executive and Seagram’s heir Edgar Bronfman Jr.

Oh for Christ's sake. Well, I can certainly understand why M.I.A's pissed. She could use some pointers from John Lydon about being in on your own jokes; if you're a poseur, call yourself one before anybody else gets the chance to.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:13 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's kind of bizarre MetaFilter has such a hard-on for Lady Gaga, but doesn't like MIA, whose music is far more interesting and original. There's no accounting for taste, though. OH SNAP?!

As for politics, most every Tamil person I know has an opinion on the war in Sri Lanka, the Tigers, the government, and all that junk. The difference between them and MIA is that she's famous and they aren't, so her opinions end up being published and broadcast. I'm sure Kadirgamar isn't the only person who finds that annoying. Still, I don't think it's fair to assume say her opinions on Sri Lanka are purely about selling records. I suspect there is more nuance to it than that. Franky, a good chunk of the Tamil kids who grew up abroad in the 80s and 90s are (depressingly) supportive of the Tigers and that movement. Her opinion really isn't that shocking if you talk to any of person of her generation who grew up abroad.
posted by chunking express at 3:13 PM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Like PLO, I don't surrendO HAI.
posted by felix betachat at 3:27 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


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.
posted by Hammond Rye at 3:29 PM on May 27, 2010


It's kind of bizarre MetaFilter has such a hard-on for Lady Gaga, but doesn't like MIA

Some mefites really dig Lady Gaga, some really really dislike her, others have mixed opinion. I'd guess the same is more or less true of MIA, and in a context that was about something interesting she'd done rather than an unflattering portrait of her character the conversation here would probably be different.

Metafilter as a monolithic entity doesn't exist and so doesn't have an opinion on either matter; Metafilter as a loose aggregate of individuals is pretty clearly ambivalent.
posted by cortex at 3:34 PM on May 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


I like to pretend it's a single person so I can say "OH SNAP?!"
posted by chunking express at 3:36 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I loved how she kept awkwardly suggesting that she's a terrorist of some kind. I hope she goes into politics.
posted by clockzero at 3:36 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


haveanicesummer: "I guess I'll just be the lone dissenter and tell you all that Paper Planes is fucking great."

No I absolutely agree, Diplo did a bangin' job on that one. It was interesting going back and looking at the credits for all her tracks and discovering that he produced all the good ones.

chunking express: "It's kind of bizarre MetaFilter has such a hard-on for Lady Gaga, but doesn't like MIA, whose music is far more interesting and original. There's no accounting for taste, though. OH SNAP?!"

Well I think a lot of the criticism here is summed up Richard Russel's quote from the article: "She wasn’t a musician, and she had no basic musical craft." That, and the pretending to have ethics.

felix betachat: "Like PLO, I don't surrendO HAI."

Yes.
posted by mullingitover at 3:40 PM on May 27, 2010


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.
Sounds like someone likes writing contrarian profile pieces. You have to stand out from the crowd somehow, y'know?
posted by verb at 3:46 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


one example of what i didn't need from this article was Hirshberg's personal opinion of MIA's Born Free video
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.
glad to hear it, lynn now STFU. here it is on VIMEO. i think it's pretty fucking memorable

if anyone finds out Hirschberg's NEW phone number please post it here.
posted by Hammond Rye at 3:50 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hammond Rye: I linked that video in the FPP. And you can be "fucking memorable" while still being "exploitative and hollow", ja?
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:53 PM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm confused - when exactly did Sri Lanka become part of the African continent?

In context, it's clear that "there" refers to Sri Lanka.

In January 2009, while the civil war in Sri Lanka was raging, Maya repeatedly referred to the situation as a “genocide.” “I wasn’t trying to be like Bono,” Maya told me. “He’s not from Africa — I’m from there.
posted by peacheater at 3:54 PM on May 27, 2010


glad to hear it, lynn now STFU.

if anyone finds out Hirschberg's NEW phone number please post it here.

The English language is so limited, isn't it? We really should have a pithy word or phrase available to describe someone who uses their internet anonymity to act like a dick.
posted by zarq at 4:06 PM on May 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


Already mentioned, but I thought I'd link up both quotes:

"Unity holds no allure for Maya — she thrives on conflict, real or imagined. “I kind of want to be an outsider,” she said, eating a truffle-flavored French fry."

"IT WAS ALMOST Halloween, nearly a month after “Saturday Night Live,” and Fox was in Los Angeles, eating truffled French fries at a restaurant in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. "

It's interesting that the exact same food can mean something so totally different. Fox is portrayed as a young woman who has been thrust into an exclusive world of celebrity; the french fries seem like a symbol of her new status as Young Hollywood. Hirschberg wants us to think that Fox is more than the foul-mouthed woman that the media would have us believe--the kind of person who would eat her fries truffled instead of covered in chili-cheese. When M.I.A. eats the same food, we are expected to think of her as a poseur and fraud. Who cares if M.I.A. wants to eat fancy food? Who cares if she wants people to watch her videos? She cannot simultaneously be on our radar and off of it. M.I.A. is an artist, not a diplomat. Who cares if she has her own opinions on the state of Sri-Lanka? Instead of tearing Maya down, Hirschberg should have done a profile on one of the few people who has pushed hip-hop's boundaries in the past five years.
posted by 200burritos at 4:08 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, that's right. It must have slipped my mind.

glad to hear it, lynn now STFU.

if anyone finds out Hirschberg's NEW phone number please post it here.


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by zarq at 4:08 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


glad to hear it, lynn now STFU. here it is on VIMEO. i think it's pretty fucking memorable

Childish commenter likes childish politics. Film at 11.
posted by dhammond at 4:11 PM on May 27, 2010


I've enjoyed her music for years but always had my suspicions about M.I.A. This episode proves I was right...
posted by i_cola at 4:13 PM on May 27, 2010


I'm firmly in the hate-Gaga-love-MIA camp. But there's no denying that Gaga clearly has a little more going on upstairs, even if (as I do) you find her music unbearable. Really I just love Diplo and hate Madonna.
posted by zvs at 4:15 PM on May 27, 2010


What's this, now? Battle of the Hammonds?
posted by Rory Marinich at 4:46 PM on May 27, 2010


that was sarcastic 4-chan speak there

"glad to hear it, lynn now STFU. here it is on VIMEO. i think it's pretty fucking memorable"

i should have said HAMBURGER

or should i say HIRSH-BURGER
posted by Hammond Rye at 4:49 PM on May 27, 2010


Yeah.. yet another typically annoying MetaHipster response to yet another article about yet another shitty pop star who will fade away as fast as every other pop artist.

And yet ... here you are.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:52 PM on May 27, 2010


I find MIA interesting and her songs rather catchy, but in the midst of the Sri Lanka civil war, when it was really escalating, she went on Real Time. Bill Maher gave her a full ten-minute interview and I didn't learn a single thing about what the situation was there. Surprisingly, she had almost zero insight at all and came off as kind clueless. I dunno, maybe she's better at lyrics than interviews but that interview reminded me of a high school student making shit up as they go along to sound like they know what they're talking about, when they really don't.
posted by zardoz at 4:52 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


> And you can be "fucking memorable" while still being "exploitative and hollow", ja?

I dunno. I mean, before I watched that video I thought that racially-motivated violence was good but now I think it is bad.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:54 PM on May 27, 2010 [13 favorites]


1. Why does there have to be a camp?
2. Why do we demand subtlety and depth of political rhetoric from every single person with an opinion?
3. Why does apparent hypocrisy automatically discredit the position of the hypocrite?
4. Why, in this day of clever, useful and cool, do we not have a phone system that relies on a single number that, if published, completely fucks your week; and
5. Why do I still feel a pretty powerful urge to append something like "For the record, I like Lady Gaga, but not her music, and vice versa for MIA" to my post?
posted by doublehappy at 4:56 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


6. Why is the success of someone who makes music we don't like so offensive to us?

I'm not judging, and putting these in question form means I don't have to do the work of actually, you know, thinking and writing something about these points, and I'm guilty of every single one of them, particularly the last, but it's just got me wondering.
posted by doublehappy at 5:00 PM on May 27, 2010


“I wasn’t trying to be like Bono,” Maya told me.

Because convincing the G8 to direct $25 billion toward fighitng extreme poverty and AIDS is, you know, a bad thing.
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:11 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I want to like M.I.A. more than I do. I like the idea of M.I.A., in any case. I don't care who she's marrying or whatever, or how much "truth" there is to her history. Her music is kind of fun, even though I don't really connect with it.

But she does strike me as a little childish sometimes, or at least not very self-aware. If you're in the public eye, sometimes people are going to say not-so-nice things about you. That sucks, but you just have to learn to deal with it. And I don't think she has. I really want to give her the benefit of the doubt, but I think she still has some growing up to do.

(Her comments about Lady Gaga strike me as, partially, jealousy -- I mean "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." Is M.I.A. really serious when she says that?)
posted by darksong at 5:15 PM on May 27, 2010


i wasn't reading the thread closely enough to observe that the author of this FPP holds the opinion that

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

i was trolled into portraying a troll. double troll. troll my double troll and we have a triple troll score.
posted by Hammond Rye at 5:16 PM on May 27, 2010


What's more, pop artists no longer inspire loyalty. Alanis Morissette, whose 1995 debut album sold 16 million copies, has stumbled with subsequent efforts.

WILL NO ONE THINK OF POOR ALANIS?!?!?
posted by kaibutsu at 5:18 PM on May 27, 2010


ITYM "OVERTHINK OF ALANIS" HTH
posted by cortex at 5:27 PM on May 27, 2010


i was trolled into portraying a troll. double troll. troll my double troll and we have a triple troll score.

That's what you get for trying to pull an Optimus Chyme.
posted by availablelight at 5:45 PM on May 27, 2010


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

Dude, I'm just a poster here. My opinion's an opinion like anybody else's. The story I posted was independent of my personal opinion of it.
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:47 PM on May 27, 2010


The people upthread who talk about the author's seeming speciality to bust celebrity cliches nailed it. She actually met Fox and M.I.A. at the same hotel restaurant (the purveyor of truffle-oil fries) but as mentioned, used that trope in completely different ways.

The takedown isn't so subtle but it's quite well done. I think those bashing M.I.A. from reading this piece, however, should probably read the presumably prevalent puff piece taking the exact opposite angle-- M.I.A. as a special talent with her finger on the pulse of the youth and revolution.

I do understand why she's pissed off though, from the sound of it this reporter hung out with her in LA and London, met her mother and child, etc. While of course she can't control the final output, it must have been a bit of a shock to read the slant she put on the profile. Her reaction though is very childish, especially for a 34 year old mom.
posted by cell divide at 6:22 PM on May 27, 2010


Yeah.. yet another typically annoying MetaHipster response to yet another article about yet another shitty pop star who will fade away as fast as every other pop artist.
posted by ReeMonster at 2:01 PM on May 27


This doesn't make sense to me. Some pop goes away and some pop doesn't, or at least hasn't yet. The Monkees were never held up as paragons of integrity or originality, but people still know who they are, people still listen to their music. Same thing with Elton John, who has always been about bitching about his peers and causing controversy for the sake of publicity. Despite a huge backlash against disco, and its own glossy disposable nature, Donna Summer gets more respect now than she has possibly ever, especially in circles where Giorgio Moroder is a household name. Kool & the Gang, The Bee-Gees, Boney M and a million other funk/disco acts still pop up on the radio, in soundtracks, at weddings, and in cover songs alongside more respectable (but still flawed) artists like James Brown and Iggy Pop

Hell, "The Macarena" was a nationwide (worldwide?) dance phenomenon, but I never hear it anymore EVER. Green Velvet's "Percolator" was nothing more than a regional hit in its heyda and I've heard it all over the world. It's not just because there was a backlash against "The Macarena", because songs that were loved and then hated have come back like Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby"

Some pop is shitty and some pop isn't, and most pop stars ARE shitty, but it doesn't seem to have much of an effect on whether most of the world decides they don't need them anymore (like the aforementioned megastar Alanis Morisette)

Seeing how much M.I.A. borrows from other artists (in not just the samples but the lyrics and the references), I'm interested to see how her career fares.
posted by elr at 6:26 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ah, yes, those well-known disreputable tabloids the New York Times and Vanity Fair.

Vanity Fair is pretty well known as unapologetically tabloid-ish/trashy-celeb-fodder. As for the New York Times, Hirschberg wasn't writing for the NYT, but for its weekly magazine, which is a reasonably trashy subsidiary, relative to the larger publication.

Nothing wrong with being trashy or reporting on celebrities, it's entertaining, etc., but let's not make out Hirschberg to be a Pulitzer Prize-caliber journalist. She peddles gossip and is part of an industry that puts people down on a regular basis.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:59 PM on May 27, 2010


MIA might not come out of this looking super-great (the mixed messages re: her father weird me out in particular), but Lynn Hirschberg comes out of this looking like a horrible crypto-conservative.

I have three big issues. First, nobody associated with the New York Times, a paper whose record regarding the present war in the middle east is let's say less-than-perfect, should be able to criticize a pop star for having a muddy viewpoint about war and terrorism.

Second, I get weird sexist vibes from Hirschberg. She makes a big deal about MIA's approach to femininity, talking at length about her performing pregnant, etc., in order to set-up an attack on her politics. Like it's not okay for a woman to have (admittedly somewhat unsophisticated but whatever, we're talking pop here) radical politics if she... what, has kids? Gets married? Likes to eat expensive food (and french fries)? Gives birth in a hospital? Cares about fashion? What's supposed to be damning about these things? The weird ad hominem free-association plus the inclusion of totally unsubstantiated derision from the subject's ex-boyfriend just reeks of punishing someone for stepping out of their station.

And finally, writing a deliberately inflammatory and divisive article which mocks its subject for being deliberately inflammatory and divisive is deeply hypocritical. Inflammation and divisiveness are the coin of the realm. If MIA can use those to promote any kind of anti-imperialist, feminist platform, muddy or not, that's good. But this petty take-down article, not so much.
posted by avianism at 7:03 PM on May 27, 2010 [12 favorites]


Lynn Hirschberg comes out of this looking like a horrible crypto-conservative.

Dude. You should totally call her at home and tell her that.

That would be awesome.
posted by felix betachat at 7:11 PM on May 27, 2010


Hell, "The Macarena" was a nationwide (worldwide?) dance phenomenon, but I never hear it anymore EVER.

Sounds like someone needs to go to more Bar/Bat Mitzvahs....
posted by inigo2 at 7:12 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


At first I was like "wow, MIA was immature" but then I read the article and I was like "wow, I wish I was ballsy enough to show up a flat out liar like MIA did".
posted by shii at 7:33 PM on May 27, 2010


shii: "At first I was like "wow, MIA was immature" but then I read the article and I was like "wow, I wish I was ballsy enough to show up a flat out liar like MIA did"."

The way to show up a flat out liar is by winning a libel suit. Whining and posting dox on twitter is basically admitting the article is 100% true.
posted by mullingitover at 7:57 PM on May 27, 2010


I actually don't think that this article is much of a hatchet job, really; it's snide and mocking at its worst, but it's really just not the usual puff piece and at least tries to show the contradictions of what Hirschberg admits is a "brilliant editor" and creative personality, and one with a particular vision. If you want to read a piece of wholesale destruction in print, check out the recent Guardian profile of Christopher Hitchens. For example:
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."
posted by jokeefe at 8:02 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not a big MIA fan but that article blows.

[restaurants are] usually chosen by a publicist

Not always. I was interviewed a number of years ago and the "journalist" chose a restaurant that I had mentioned in my writing. I told her I felt a bit weird having the interview there but she thought it would be "helpful". Then, of course, when she wrote the article, she worded it so it looked like I chose the restaurant "because" the place was my "chick trap". I probably woulda tweeted her number had tweeting been around. Non-news journalists get way too much respect when so many of them are just lying sacks of shit who will twist facts and figures any which way that makes them look good.
posted by dobbs at 8:05 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


To be fair, M.I.A. is a (very talented) pop singer, and Christopher Hitchens is a huge asshole who has spent most of the last decade aggressively promoting war in Iraq, apparently while shitfaced. So really, I guess my point is fuck Christopher Hitchens anyway plus some stuff about how M.I.A. makes good music even if she's kind of full of shit. Hitchens is just full of shit, and completely deserving of this treatment.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:09 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like how Hershberg spends how ever many words calling this woman an Attention Whore in the NYT and then acts all suprised when her subject makes a bunch of drama about it. I mean, hello.
posted by delmoi at 8:49 PM on May 27, 2010


The Born Free video is excellent. A fictional portrayal of Ginger-nuts rounded up into prison camps. Makes about as much sense as anything these days.

Apparently, we in the Western World cannot see it on YouTube right now. Makes about as much sense as anything these days.
posted by ovvl at 9:03 PM on May 27, 2010


MIA's politics are vapid, the article is vapid. MIA imagines herself to be a provocateur, the NYT writer picks up on the provocation of MIA and her hangers-on and treats it as though it's some deadly serious goings-on.

But the way she speaks, that irritating string-halfbaked-thoughts-and-sound-profound that comes across every time she speaks anywhere, is annoying as all hell, and I wasn't at all surprised to find that she followed that up with a lot of self-serving narcissism.

That's what all "artists" and celebrities do to get attention and publicity, especially when they've got some new product ready to hit the market. They call up a reporter and they make vapid, irritating, narcissistic statements that they pretend are profound, and they get mad when the reporter twists their profundities to mean something -- oh, horrors! -- that they didn't intend (wink, wink).

They act like they matter. Madonna does it. MIA does it. Lady Gaga does it. It's not that complicated. You have to yell and scream and throw tantrums more effectively than anyone else in the moment. Then the moment is gone. Then next year's tantrum will have to be even more outrageous.

MIA is neither exceptionally faux-profound nor exceptionally irritating. The string of half-baked thoughts in Lady Gaga's recent interview with the Times of London were no more or no less irritating or narcissistic than MIA's were.
posted by blucevalo at 9:09 PM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Diplo is a bit of an underminer, eh?
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 9:43 PM on May 27, 2010


The English language is so limited, isn't it? We really should have a pithy word or phrase available to describe someone who uses their internet anonymity to act like a dick.

What's wrong with Internet Fuckwad?
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:24 PM on May 27, 2010


I wonder why Diplo is banned from her house.
posted by delmoi at 11:00 PM on May 27, 2010


might be a dipso.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:04 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm so glad I don't "have to" talk to the media or do publicity. I'm pretty much guaranteed to say something stupid if you're around me long enough.

When journalists are looking for man on the street type quotes, I've taken to saying "I don't talk to the media."
posted by ODiV at 11:15 PM on May 27, 2010


ReeMonster: "Yeah.. yet another typically annoying MetaHipster response to yet another article about yet another shitty pop star who will fade away as fast as every other pop artist."

Hey, you got your detached irony in my peanut butter!
posted by Kskomsvold at 12:48 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


MIA is neither exceptionally faux-profound nor exceptionally irritating. The string of half-baked thoughts in Lady Gaga's recent interview with the Times of London were no more or no less irritating or narcissistic than MIA's were.

The difference is that Lady Gaga at least doesn't flirt with the nastiest political movement this side of the Khmer Rouge.
posted by Skeptic at 3:10 AM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Diplo is a bit of an underminer, eh?
He's her ex, and doesn't get on with her new guy.

I wonder why Diplo is banned from her house.
See above.
posted by kersplunk at 4:46 AM on May 28, 2010


The difference is that Lady Gaga at least doesn't flirt with the nastiest political movement this side of the Khmer Rouge.

Lady Gaga flirts with the neocons?
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:00 AM on May 28, 2010


(oh, doesn't flirt)
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:01 AM on May 28, 2010


The difference is that Lady Gaga at least doesn't flirt with the nastiest political movement this side of the Khmer Rouge.

One problem with the way the war in Sri Lanka is covered is all the hyperbole that gets thrown around.
posted by chunking express at 6:24 AM on May 28, 2010


The difference is that Lady Gaga at least doesn't flirt with the nastiest political movement this side of the Khmer Rouge.

How noble of Ms. Germanotta.
posted by blucevalo at 7:18 AM on May 28, 2010


Not nearly as funny as when LeVar Burton accidentally tweeted his own phone number back in March.

Still, far better than accidentally tweeting a topless picture of yourself. (NSFW)
posted by zarq at 7:19 AM on May 28, 2010


Diplo is a bit of an underminer, eh?

As others have noted, he did a lot of the heavy lifting on M.I.A.'s first album (to say nothing of the Piracy Funds Terrorism mixtape, which I think is the best thing she's ever done). He got famous, but she got more famous. And, perhaps importantly for a huge music nerd, he didn't get much of the credit (which, by the way, is exactly the opposite of how it played out with folks like Low B and Switch). And, yeah, the ex thing.

I'm not a big Hirschberg fan, but pretty much all the quotes in that profile are comedy gold.
posted by box at 7:56 AM on May 28, 2010


Yeah, the piece is a snarky takedown, but is anyone surprised that MIA would provide so much material for this purpose? Lady GaGa should thank her for this line:
“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.”
Talk about jealousy! MIA would be far less irritating if she just embraced her frivolousness. Some of GaGa's songs are pop gems (scattered amidst some very bland filler), and MIA has two terrific albums (perhaps largely thanks to her producers). But in terms of their public personas, there's no contest. GaGa has millions of times more self-awareness and warmth.
posted by Edgewise at 8:16 AM on May 28, 2010


Does Gaga fart rainbows too?
posted by blucevalo at 8:43 AM on May 28, 2010


If Diplo is so fucking awesome, and MIA just some pretty brown chick, why hasn't Diplo churned out another 10 MIAs? I suspect there is more to her than her producers.
posted by chunking express at 8:45 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Does Gaga fart rainbows too?

Yes, probably!
posted by infinitywaltz at 8:58 AM on May 28, 2010


I'm offend by this action, and would like to discuss it with someone.

Please call me. 911-0000, or if you're in the UK, use my other number: 9990-0000.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:26 AM on May 28, 2010


"In context, it's clear that "there" refers to Sri Lanka."

Ah, OK, it makes more sense now. It's still a silly statement, though.
posted by HopperFan at 11:38 AM on May 28, 2010


why hasn't Diplo churned out another 10 MIAs

Perhaps he feels that one is more than enough.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 8:58 PM on May 28, 2010


I started out reading this article/thread sort of vaguely disliking M.I.A. for no good reason. Now I pretty much can't stand her, and I have lots of good reasons. Thanks.
posted by tehloki at 12:59 PM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


via Pitchfork:

On the internet, one of the most hotly discussed aspects of the piece was what M.I.A. ate during one of the interviews, which took place at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. Hirschberg wrote, "Unity holds no allure for Maya — she thrives on conflict, real or imagined. 'I kind of want to be an outsider,' she said, eating a truffle-flavored French fry. 'I don't want to make the same music, sing about the same stuff, talk about the same things. If that makes me a terrorist, then I'm a terrorist.'" This could be interpreted as Hirschberg trying to frame M.I.A. as a hypocrite, talking about wanting to be an outsider while munching on exotic delicacies at a posh restaurant.

In the first sound bite that M.I.A. posted on the N.E.E.T blog, it is revealed that it was Hirschberg herself who ordered the fries. And she told Maya that The New York Times would pay for them.

The second sound bite concerns this piece of the article:

"In January 2009, while the civil war in Sri Lanka was raging, Maya repeatedly referred to the situation as a 'genocide.' 'I wasn’t trying to be like Bono,' Maya told me. 'He's not from Africa — I'm from there. I'm tired of pop stars who say, 'Give peace a chance.' I'd rather say, 'Give war a chance.' The whole point of going to the Grammys was to say, 'Hey, 50,000 people are gonna die next month, and here's your opportunity to help.' And no one did.'"

In the recording that M.I.A. posted, this is what she actually says:

"It wasn't just about me, and me getting to the Oscars, or me going to the Grammys. That doesn't mean anything. The whole point of the journey was so you can go, 'Hey, 50,000 people are going to die next month. Here's your opportunity to to help.' And no one did, and they still died. It wasn't about accolades or fame."

On the N.E.E.T. blog, M.I.A. also posted links to several New York Times articles covering the war in Sri Lanka, as well as a link to Amnesty International.

In addition, M.I.A. also posted a new song, which is tagged as being called "Haters", and interpolates the Various Production track "Hater". It begins "So you wanna hear about my politics / Yeah, I could show you things that could make you sick" and goes on to address America, the army, racists, and, of course, journalists.

posted by rbf1138 at 6:48 PM on May 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


So MIA recorded the interview, and it turned out the truffle fry was a set up.

It kind of seems like Hirschberg went a little beyond looking for low hanging fruit to a metaphor of some sort which I'm not able to complete right now.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:28 AM on June 3, 2010


That's a neat little twist.

It looks as though people actually give a shit what she was eating, Hirschberg very much included.
posted by ODiV at 6:59 AM on June 3, 2010


From A Terrible Llama's link:
"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.
Heh.
posted by zarq at 8:25 AM on June 3, 2010


As manipulative as the text is -- well, it's not that it's manipulative because I don't think the writer is being conniving about her opinion on the matter...

Oh, and I'm going to need a take-back on that one.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:49 AM on June 3, 2010


Bumpin haters. Haters.
posted by cashman at 9:25 PM on June 3, 2010


Like I said, Frank Zappa was right about rock journalism. The fact that we're seeing it here should be no surprise.
posted by koeselitz at 10:23 PM on June 3, 2010


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.
Why We Fight #4 - The Trouble With Maya by Nitsuh Abebe.

There's lots of good stuff in this article.
posted by chunking express at 8:41 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Came to see if anyone had posted a link to that Why We Fight column; stayed to second chunking express.
posted by kipmanley at 10:03 AM on June 4, 2010


"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."

I read the article. The truffle fry bit meant nothing to me. I had to go back and read the article again after all the fuss to see what it was all about. Nope, still meant nothing to me.

The thing to me that represented completely unforgivable hypocrisy was marrying into the Bronfman family. I wonder if she's going to try to pin that one on Hirschberg.
posted by mullingitover at 10:31 AM on June 4, 2010


Me too, kipmmanley. Great article, thanks for linking it chunking express. I think you and I have complete opposite opinions about M.I.A. here on MeFi, so I'm impressed with an article we both like.
posted by Nelson at 10:41 AM on June 4, 2010


Do the Bronfman covertly fund the Sri Lankan army or something?
posted by chunking express at 10:47 AM on June 4, 2010


Do the Bronfman covertly fund the Sri Lankan army or something?

Not that I've heard of, but portraying yourself as a champion of the underclass when you've married into one of the world's richest families is at least as tacky as eating truffle fries.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 11:07 AM on June 4, 2010


So the insanely rich people can never be champions of the underclass?
posted by chunking express at 11:16 AM on June 4, 2010


I guess I didn't need the 'the' in that sentence. God damn it.
posted by chunking express at 11:19 AM on June 4, 2010


Realistically, no. Billionaires are not champions of the underclass, full stop.

Regardless of how philanthropic they are (and many of them are admirably philanthropic) and regarless of how they may choose to attempt to portray themselves in the media, if they were truly champions of the underclass they would no longer be billionaires, and the world would be a very different place.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 11:21 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a misunderstanding, she's actually marrying into the Bronson family. Her parents told her it was a terrible idea, wondered if she had some sort of death wish, but she insists that he's magnificent.
posted by cortex at 11:22 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


magnificent

Majestyk, even.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 11:26 AM on June 4, 2010


chunking express: "So the insanely rich people can never be champions of the underclass?"

It's not just that she's trying to speak out on behalf of the underclass, it's that she paints herself as a little bit of a class warrior, invoking the PLO and the Tigers in her lyrics. So her marrying a Bronfman is a bit like if Zach de la Rocha married Jenna Bush.
posted by mullingitover at 11:28 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fair enough. Then I return to the point I made up thread.

PURPLE HAZE GALANGALANGALANG!
posted by chunking express at 11:38 AM on June 4, 2010


I like the Nitsuh Abebe article, but he uses the words resonant/resonance six times throughout the thing, as if it's something that is self-evident and valuable, as if it might be a quality that cancels out incoherence and shallowness. Why should we care about someone who has made a calculated effort to "resonate", to get our collective attention, if what's she's resonating is a viewpoint that endorses muddled, irresponsible militancy? Put another way: is Paris Hilton inherently valuable and worthy of respect because she managed to resonate within our culture? Arguably so, but I don't think so.

What's really resonating with the Western world is a combination of exoticism, danger, sexiness, and the veneer of an underground political cause. As Abebe says, MIA "often wraps herself in the idea of political violence and armed resistance-- things that make a much more exciting package for Western audiences." I wish he would have further explored MIA's intentional exploitation of this exoticization of the other, because that might be what really rubs me the wrong way. (And for the record, I like her music - or Diplo's, I suppose?) In any case, this whole thing has given us something to think about, so I thank both Hirschberg and MIA.
posted by naju at 12:08 PM on June 4, 2010


Context M.I.A. by V.V. Ganeshananthan for the Columbia Journalism Review:
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.
posted by chunking express at 10:31 AM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


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