M.I.A.’s Born Free Still On YouTube, Still Pretty Intense

[show=m-i-a size=large]British musical artist M.I.A. has never shied away from tough topics in her music, but her latest music video has proven to be tough for many to take. Born Free is less of a video, though, and more a nine-minute short film that depicts American soldiers on the hunt for red-heads of all ages, climaxing with a graphic display of violence against the men (and boys).
When I first heard the video described, I was expecting it to be a lot more offensive, but like anything built up as awful and offensive, parts of Born Free aren’t quiiiiiiite as bad as they’ve been built up to be. The nudity is fleeting, the profanity sparse; probably the only moment that is as shocking as promised is the murder of a young boy; while clearly created digitally, it still manages to be affecting.
And while it is intense subject matter, despite claims by Mashable, it’s not too intense for YouTube (s GOOG), which was not directly responsible for its takedown. The link to Born Free M.I.A. Twittered out at 2:51 a.m. PST states that the video was removed by its owner, and a number of uploads remain viewable on the site behind an age-restricted wall, as seen here.
According to a YouTube spokesperson, “With 24 hours of video uploaded every minute to YouTube, we are unable to comment on specific videos. Our policy is to age-restrict content that has been flagged by the community and identified by our policy enforcement team as content that, while not violating our Community Guidelines, is not suitable for users under age 18.”
The video is also available on the Vimeo account of director Romain Gavras, who previously worked with the French electronic music duo Justice and is the son of renowned filmmaker Costa Gavras.
Born Free is without a doubt evocative of many examples of civil injustice at times — though The Awl’s point that its subject matter is a little obvious is well-taken. However, by my pre-established standards for a good music video, Born Free is successful: It tells a story and the content of the video fits with the music.
The only off note is that by targeting redheads, Born Free doesn’t so much remind me of real world examples of abuse, torture and genocide as it does Catherine Tate sketches. For, as the meme goes, “gingers do have souls.”
Related content on GigaOM Pro: Why Viacom’s Fight With YouTube Threatens Web Innovation (subscription required)