There was a time when I adored M.I.A. I loved her albums, I loved her vibe, I loved her style, I loved her attitude, and I loved that she was politically aware and called attention to a part of the world most of us barely think about. But lately, it seems like homegirl’s behavior has been getting more and more erratic. It all began with that video for “Born Free,” which almost made a good point but took things a few steps too far when it showed a red-headed kid’s brains being blown out at close range. Then came her freak-out over a New York Times Magazine article. Yes, the writer took some jabs at the singer and implied M.I.A. had ordered truffle fries when in fact she had. But was it really worth tweeting the reporter’s cell phone number and writing a nasty song about her?
But this week, her actions have gotten even weirder. Over the weekend, she stopped a set early in anger over sound problems. (She later tweeted, “Money doesnt buy u s**t! i thought more money means better sound guys in america/\/\/\! i was wrong, the higher u go , they turn u lower!”) Later that night, she spit in the face of a photographer.
And today, M.I.A. went after Oprah, whom she met briefly at the Metropolitan Ball in May, as well as Lady Gaga. M.I.A. recalled the evening, saying, “Oprah seemed like she was giving me the cold shoulder. She was with Iman. Iman was always dancing with me, hugging and kissing me, but Oprah seemed really [expletive] off with me. … She made this huge speech at the ball praising Lady Gaga and about how she is helping Americans to be the best of themselves. There’s millions of other Americans who represent that for me. Is it about numbers? About how much you’re selling? Is it truly about the journey? Because [Lady Gaga's] journey isn’t that difficult: to go from the [expletive] Upper East Side to a [expletive] performing arts school and on to a stage at the museum of [expletive] wherever. That journey’s about four miles.” Alternate theory: perhaps Oprah brushed M.I.A off because they’re acquaintances while she and Iman are good friends? And perhaps Lady Gaga is another hard-working musician who is also worthy of praise?
So, as much as I like M.I.A’s new album, I’m just not finding the anger endearing. I wish she’d take a few deep breaths and calm down before doing any more interviews or taking any more rash actions.