1. “In the video, the symbolism of the cloth is transplanted back to its original status: As an icon for Palestinian rebels.”

    I’m not totally up on the history of fashion, but I think it predates this (eg Lawrence of Arabia).

    I also doubt there’s any attempt here to criticize folks for wearing the thing… exploding children seem to imply larger concerns. As far as symbolism goes, you’ve got American shock troops (flags on their shoulders) rounding up folks based solely on their shared appearance with rebels and using them as tools (minesweepers) without paying any mind to them as individuals. Some obvious relation with the post-9/11 round-up that led to the detention of individuals for several years with little effort expended to determine innocence or guilt.

  2. Leor Galil

    The use of scarves in arid climates predates even Lawrence of Arabia, but the keffiyeh/kaffiyeh in particular has a long history with Palestinian identity:


    Like I said, this is merely my interpretation… The part about the headdress is something I’ve come to notice.

    And yes, excellent summation to boot. I wanted to take a more ambiguous approach, one that didn’t necessarily focus on the specifics of, say, post-9/11 detention, but in regards to a history of such atrocities. In as much as it can fit the current state of affairs, there are themes from any number of big human rights issues events of the past two centuries (Northern Ireland, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Holocaust, etc.) You make a great point, but, as I said, I think it’s open to any and all interpretations that run the gamut of these atrocities.

  3. Lots of folks on the Internet are throwing around the word ‘brilliant’ when talking about this video. But why? If there’s a coherent message in the video, it’s muddled as fuck. If M.I.A. scripted this, it’s a major mess on her part. Romain Gavras, the director, seems to have a lot of promise (his video for Justice’s “Stress’ was far more cohesive/engaging) — but he should do a feature film, and get a good screenwriter. But overall, good cinematography does not equate intelligent content. This video just seems like an exercise in pseudo-intellectualism.

  4. Leor Galil

    I personally love that any “message” in this video is “muddled as fuck.” What international tensions are ever so straightforward? Why should M.I.A., or Gavaras, be expected to give a coherent message? It’s a veritable “fuck you” to anyone looking to M.I.A. to lead them into the pseudo-political promise land.

    Like I said above, I genuinely enjoy that it’s so ambiguous. People pick and chose what they want it to mean, or pass it off entirely. The very idea that a 9 minute video with solid cinematography is even getting people to consider it’s meanings beyond the scope of pop culture is great to see. Even the reactions made in order to renounce it as nothing more than meaningless is engaging it as a work one would consider to be made with the intent of being meaningful. And I relish seeing that.

    Maybe I read a little too much into it, sure. But the “brilliant” thing is that more people are spinning their own idea on this thing, and in a greater density than the above-average music video gets talked about. If art/film/music/etc is about getting an emotional reaction, this video has seen a range of diverse interpretations and reactions unparalleled. That’s brilliant.

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