As a redhead with a blog about the fairer-skinned people, I am usually forwarded articles, photos and videos about carrot-top content. Par for the course, I received the heads-up that musical provocateur MIA made a video for her new single Born Free that deals, graphically, with ginger genocide.
The first time I watched this 9 minute video I was flooded with conflicting emotions about the images I was seeing. But more than anything . . . I wanted to watch it again.
The video was clearly filled with graphic images that evoke very different emotions from each person that views it. But I was especially interested in what other people were saying about this controversial mini-movie. A movie so “graphic” that YouTube pulled it less than a week after it was uploaded online.
The internet is filled with articles and blogs debating if this was a political statement or a well-crafted album sale catalyst. Some think that the use of redheads as the persecuted is hilarious while others find it insulting. But no one is left without some reaction to the shaking camera following SWAT officers rounding up redheads and abusing, maiming and murdering them in internment camps.
Some of the critics of this video have claimed that the violence is “beneath” MIA and unnecessarily gory. While I appreciate the varying sensitivities of people and visual imagery, I challenge them to think about when the depiction of genocide and maiming of a group is necessary? I think that Born Free is challenging the definition of who the enemy or the persecuted can be.
Could some view this depiction as preposterous because the wronged group is categorized by hair color? Could it be because they are white? Would people feel the same if MIA chose Jews or Muslims or Japanese people? Is it really that absurd when you look at the history of genocide and discrimination?
The images that director Romain Gavras chose to use to portray the total militarization of Los Angeles with the war on red echoed the public outcry against the Draconian law proposed in Arizona and offered and unapologetic look at what irrational panic the public gets caught up in when fear is inserted into the marketplace.
I see this video less of a graphic mockery of police-state action and segregation and more of a cloudy mirror being held up to the ease with which governments and people use moral panics to dehumanize groups of people.
I encourage people to view Born Free and judge for themselves.