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M.I.A.’s Anti-YouTube Billboard Could Shift Balance of British Election

Not that our politically astute readership needs any reminder, but today’s the day of England’s the British general election, with Gordon Brown's Labour Party, David Cameron's Conservatives, and Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats going head-to-head-to-head. What are famous British musicians doing about it?

Thom Yorke’s taking it pretty easy, mostly putting his efforts into a mean-spirited post on the Radiohead site Dead Air Space that asks folks to “avert your cynical eyes” and provides an election-day playlist kicked off by Fun Boy Three’s “The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum).” Meanwhile, four-part-harmony indie-rockers the Futureheads and professional rabble-rouser M.I.A. are going a more proactive route, providing artwork for a series of in-your-face billboard designs being projected throughout London today. It’s part of a project called BillBored, whose “manifesto” reads:


Government are supposed to represent us, the people. We are re-wiring politics. Forget Whitehall. Forget corruption. Forget middle class baby boomers. Billboard is about youth, creativity and liberation. It is about time that we all made it clear what we want, instead of being enchanted by false promises.

So, what does M.I.A. want? Well, as you can see from the design above — in which her face is blocked out by a bunch of YouTube control bars — mostly to remind everyone that YouTube pulled her “Born Free” video. Censorship! (“Born Free” is still readily available on other video-streaming sites but, yeah, still, censorship). For those following at home, the YouTube issue is M.I.A.’s third controversy in as many album promotional cycles, with her father’s relationship to the Tamil Tigers and her own visa problems around for Arular and Kala, respectively.

What’s next? So many questions. Will Gordon Brown release a quickie anti-YouTube statement to lure the M.I.A. voting bloc? Will David Cameron express solidarity with YouTube’s actions in order to appeal to people who maybe prefer Santigold? Will the vast majority of Brits trudging to the polls today be blissfully unaware of what the hell that billboard is supposed to mean?

BillBored [Via NME]

Photo: Courtesy of BillBored.org