has m.i.a’s music video been banned for cultural appropriation?
Someone has put the brakes on the release of a new video of a dancer, filmed in Africa.
"I wanna talk about [cultural] appropriation," M.I.A tweeted earlier today, explaining, "I've been told I can't put out a video because it's shot in Africa." Ending the tweet with a request for followers to "Discuss", she wasn't left hanging for long, as hundreds immediately joined in to give their knee-jerk opinions and support. A few, however, started digging for more information, asking important questions like "what song?" and "what's happening in this video"?
M.I.A revealed that, "The video is 1 take shot of a dancer ! The best in the wide world! And he wasn't ever gonna make '_____got talent'," later adding that, "The video was shot in [Ivory Coast]. Took me 2 years to locate him". Perhaps some record execs have got a little wild with their presumably new-found concern for cultural appropriation, an issue that you wouldn't expect to suddenly be affecting M.I.A, who's long made cultural issues a central theme of her output. The arguments leveled at artists like Iggy Azalea often focus on how they have appropriated the positives of black culture, whilst conveniently ignoring the issues facing black people and not speaking out against police brutality in America, for example.
The picture is of course more complex with M.I.A. She is herself from a minority culture, the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, who she considers to be facing genocide at the hands of the government, and she regularly speaks out about that and a wide variety of other political issues. One fan tweeted, "@MIAuniverse your entire discography is about making a WORLD TOWN where music fashion culture are remixed... So I say YAS," with another adding, "you wouldn't be using a culture for success, you'd be sharing it for art". Certainly, to suggest she only takes the easy "goods" and leaves the difficult political stuff would be inaccurate, even if you disagree with her opinions. However, as with all instances of potential cultural appropriation, the deciding factors are all in the details, so until we know more about the content of the track and the video, it is impossible to say whether it is a positive celebration of culture or a damaging appropriation. With fans urging her to leak the video anyway, perhaps it won't be long before we can make that judgement ourselves.