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M.I.A.’s ‘Born Free’ Video Is Not Messing Around

On the same day she released the intense video for her single “Born Free,” M.I.A. took over Pitchfork’s Twitter, mostly using the opportunity to post confusing garble. She did reveal the track list for her upcoming album, though! And it goes: “The Message,” “Born Free,” “Meds and Feds,” “Lovealot,” “Tequila,” “It Is What It Is,” “XXXO,” “Tell Me Why,” “Story Told,” and “Space.” (That last one is, presumably, this). Also, she’s "OPEN TO SUGGESTION" for the album title. And now — can we talk about this “Born Free” video?! If you haven’t seen it, it’s a beautifully shot, fully unsettling imagining of a military-style raid on an apartment building in a totalitarian state where redheads are outlawed. Which is either: (a) a chilling, effective way to depict the arbitrary horribleness of certain tragic world governments, both historically and modernly; (b) a specific critique of the Sri Lankan government, which last year defeated the rebel group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, an organization M.I.A. has repeatedly been accused of supporting; (c) we’d usually go with a jokey third thing, but the multiple harrowing deaths in this video are not exactly conducive to that kind of flippancy.