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Taking sides: Four days later, is M.I.A.'s new video still too much?

M.I.A.M.I.A. goes NSFW.

We've had four days to mull it over, but the video for M.I.A.'s new single, "Born Free," is still tough to sit through.

In it, riot gear-clad cops swarm the streets of Los Angeles, rounding up red-haired youths and busing them to a remote internment camp. Then things get really, really bloody. YouTube yanked the video on Tuesday citing "pornography" and "gratuitous violence."

For our weekly Taking sides post, Click Track's contributors ponder the following: Is "Born Free" a powerful political statement or just vapid sensationalism?

Cast your vote in the poll below and read our comments after the jump.

Chris Richards: Make no mistake: In 2010, M.I.A.'s videos need to move away from the Zubaz-brought-to-life-via-Mario-Paint-look. (Plus, Rihanna has it covered.) But for an artist who has built her entire career by challenging our pop sensibilities, the hyper-graphic blood-n-guts approach seems both crass and far, far beneath her. (Pains me to say it, but I think the song is whack, too.)

Allison Stewart: I don't doubt M.I.A.'s genuine sympathy for genocide victims, and I don't discount the video's powerful imagery. Good art certainly provokes, but there's something about the whole exercise that seems insincere to me. It's as if she's saying: Look at all the terrible things you Americans do -- and did I mention I have an album coming out? I'm sure she figured there was nothing wrong with pointing out the evils of genocide and selling some records at the same time, and maybe if her touch had been lighter, there wouldn't have been. But the combination of self-righteousness and self-promotion sets my teeth on edge.

Sarah Godfrey: I can understand some of the fuss being made over the "Born Free" video, but this is what M.I.A. does (and what director Romain Gavras does). She’s all about shocking and provoking, and the video definitely succeeds on those fronts. I'm not quite cynical enough to think that M.I.A is just trying to create controversy to generate buzz for a new album -- I really do think she's trying to deliver a message here. And using graphic sex and violence to make some sort of a statement -- heavy-handed and muddled though it may be -- is definitely preferable to making a graphic music video that doesn't make a statement at all.

David Malitz: I'll be honest -- I haven't watched the thing. I'm experiencing some M.I.A. overload. First that silly feud/diss of Lady Gaga. Then there was an actual new song that wasn't so hot. Then her CAPS LOCK TAKEOVER OF PITCHFORK'S TWITTER ACCOUNT earlier this week. So when I see there's some NSFW video -- and not one with naked people, but with redheads being killed? -- I'll pass, even though videos are all the rage . I can barely watch the scenes in "Lost" when Jack is operating on someone! I can't wait until the new album arrives and I will instantly devour that, but until then, later M.I.A.

By Chris Richards  |  April 29, 2010; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Taking sides  | Tags: M.I.A.  
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Wow. This video is raw...once of the rawest I've seen in years...and it tackles some SERIOUS political issues. I mean, that video could be pertaining to how Blacks were treated throughout history, how the Mexicans are treated as illegal immigrants, it touches on Russian history, this vid is TOO deep! And M.I.A. didn't even have to make a video appearance to kill it!!!!

Hats off! Erykah Badu's naked stunt has NOTHING...and I mean NOTHING on this vid!

Posted by: cbmuzik | April 29, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

So, is it tough to get through like "American Me" because the brutal reality of it?

Posted by: sockpuppet68 | May 3, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

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