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M.I.A. and the Tamil Tigers: Why She is Right to Support Them

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As you know recording star M.I.A. was yesterday lambasted in the NY Times for the contradictions in her lavish LA lifestyle and her political views regrading her homeland of Sri Lanka. In retaliation, M.I.A tweeted the phone number of author Lynn Hirschberg of the NY Times piece. (the same author who wrote a famously brutal piece about Courtney Love in 1992). Then everyone flipped the hell out.

Calm down everybody. Does it matter that M.I.A. is "not a musician" or that she backs the Tamil Tigers who are at least as murderous as the government forces they oppose? Does it count that her grasp of Sri Lankan politics is shaky to say the least? Should we worry that she can't see a problem with being a millionaire and describing herself as a terrorist? No it does not.

Firstly, as a reader of Gawker.com suggested, try this little test.

"Quick, name all of the artists you admire that are really, really nice and eloquent people without any contradictions between their public and private persona?"

And secondly, its worth remembering that M.I.A is a provocateur. Like a conceptual artist her job is to get you thinking about these things, no more. And on that score, she is wildly successful. Today the web is lit up with a discussion of her talent, her sincerity and the political situation in Sri Lanka.

Whether she is a good artist, or if she can sing or dance, or knows how to produce a damn record is neither here nor there. There a 100 American Idol contestants who can sing, but who cares what they have to say about anything?

I'd swap 1000 of them for one artist like M.I.A. who is at least making interesting pop music, and make pop music appear interesting.

That is worth one million "good" singers.

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