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Does M.I.A.’s “Born Free” Video Go Too Far?

Submitted by on May 1, 2010 – 3:23 pm11 Comments
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By now you have heard about or seen M.I.A.‘s grim video for “Born Free.” Its violent subject matter, laced with a message to eliminate violence against minorities, is a tough pill to swallow upon initial viewing. The video shows US flag wearing police officers — in full riot gear — rounding up red-headed “minorities” in a manner both eye-opening and unapologetic. As the video wears on, you see the minorities taken to the desert where they’re brutally hunted and shot down. It’s certainly not made for American television nor is it made for anyone with a weak stomach, but it is a truth that may be a tough pill to swallow

M.I.A. and director Romain Gavras never intended to sugarcoat the truth about world prejudice and the oppression of minorities across the globe. Sometimes you need to see violence to understand the nature of the beast. Still, some say the “Born Free” video has gone too far. The shooting of a 12-year-old may be seen as the tipping point of the video by many, and some were possibly turned off from the nudity in the beginning. Others may be disgusted beyond belief with the young man exploding at the end. Even more may not have a problem with the violent nature of the video, but the fact there’s an American flag attached to the oppressors sends a message many Americans don’t want to accept (“not us”). The truth of the matter is these are issues that are actually going on around the world and yes, it may be a bit dramatic, but the parallels with our own issues concerning immigration, the treatment of the prisoners in Abu Ghraib and more are staggering.

It’s no secret that world oppression against minorities is still a very real thing. Perhaps we don’t want to believe it because it is not on our nightly news. “Born Free” is political protest in its truest form. But does the message become lost in the controversial nature of the video?

You be the judge — parental discretion is advised for children under 12:

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