Real Talk on M.I.A. | Bleader

Real Talk on M.I.A.

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This profile of M.I.A. by Lynn Hirschberg for the New York Times magazine is already an Internet month old—it came out yesterday—but if you haven't checked it out by now I strongly suggest that you do.

It may be, as Jessica Hopper has suggested to me, that M.I.A. thought Hirschberg intended to write a puff piece—that is, that she'd swallow every bit of self-mythologizing and politico-artistic provocation without question. Maybe M.I.A. figured that her talent for making those things aesthetically appealing would disincline a journalist to dig into them. At any rate, she was wrong.

Most writers who've profiled M.I.A. in the past have been willing to see her as she wants to be seen. Hirschberg, though, not only notes the friction between M.I.A.'s message and her actions (for a shoot at a working-class photographer's dinky apartment she wears enough borrowed gold from Givenchy to warrant a bodyguard; she expresses a desire to be taken as an "outsider" while munching on truffle-flavored french fries) but also enlists an expert in Sri Lankan politics to explain how poorly she understands the situation there. M.I.A.'s producer and ex-boyfriend Diplo even debunks some of the core elements of her myth—particularly stunning because his career's so tightly intertwined with hers. He speaks the real talk of a dude who seriously does not give a fuck.

M.I.A. superfans will doubtless be pissed about the article—getting pissed off about press that seems negative is one of the things superfans are there for—but if you have ambivalent feelings about M.I.A.'s image/message/whatever you'll probably be fascinated by it. If you hate M.I.A. you might cackle with glee. If you don't care one way or the other about M.I.A., you might find after reading it that you do.

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