Despite being a bit of an MIA skeptic in the past, I have to admit I fuckin’ love this video!
Amid all the brouhaha surrounding Madonna’s “Give Me All Your Luvin’”, which also premiered on Friday (it’s ok, nothing special), it seemed a bit mystifying as to why MIA would choose to premier her own video on the same day. Who the hell competes with Madonna? Especially when you are already featured in her song? Well, put that thought on ice my friends, because “Bad Girls” is worth a dozen “Give Me All Your Luvin’“s.
Director Romain Gavras takes the standard music video tropes of cars and girls, transplants it to a North African setting, and captures some beautiful imagery and wicked stunts on the way (the kind of thing we’re normally used to seeing in shakey, low-res YouTube clips). Most importantly though, this succeeds where other MIA and Gavras videos have failed - in particular the infamous “ginger-killing” clip for “Born Free” - in that it’s not patronising.
To me MIA works best when she’s not trying to be controversial, but just does what she does. She’s so inherently different from what passes for mainstream “pop” performers nowadays, that she doesn’t need to work harder to seem more edgy or confrontational. That’s why “Bad Girls” succeeds where “Born Free” failed, and why its simplicity is a lot more subversive. Rather than bludgeoning us over the head with exploding body parts, it gently reminds us: “Hey guys, look, Arabs are cool too! They’re not just cannon fodder for Arnie films and Western Imperialist wars.”
MIA “Bad Girls”
“Bad GIrls” is taken from MIA’s 2010 mixtape Vicki Leekx, which is still available to download.