Friday, May 28, 2010


Everyone loves a bit of journalism controversy, right? (Or is it just me?) I had never been a huge fan of M.I.A., which isn't to say that I didn't like her, but I was definitely interested by the recent N.Y. Times Magazine profile prompted an angry yet pretty clever response by M.I.A. Basically M.I.A. listed a number for fans of hers to call - which turned out to be author Lynn Hirschberg's message machine. It's too bad Hirschberg didn't take the clever move with a grain of salt, but this issue definitely highlights the leeway magazine journalism writers get to not only tell a story, but to tell it in a very concerted way that proves their point.

If hip hop is collage, then so is magazine journalism. You can tell that Hirschberg carefully selected a variety of ammunition which pretty effectively highlight certain contradictions in MIA's (i'm sick of putting in the periods) persona. The scene in which a neighbor visits a Sri Lankan photographer MIA had been collaborating with, and asks a presumably blinged-out MIA what she's doing there, sticks out. The artist clearly doesn't notice the class tension, and dumbly responds, "Why wouldn't I be here?"

The tough thing with this situation, and the reason I might understand MIA's anger is that Hirschberg is surely picking quotes, scenes, symbols, etc. very conscientiously in order to prove her point. There are probably several details she left out that might have contradicted her argument, but of course she doesn't mention them.

I know from personal experience that it can be easy when writing something like this to focus on an angle, and then just look for evidence that supports your point, while ignoring the rest.

Basically, this whole commotion shows how subjective magazine journalism can sometimes be, and with so much freedom to tell a narrative, it can be tough to remain balanced, and it is inevitable that your point of view will likely come across (whereas in more straight-forward, hard news pieces, that point of view may still be there, but is just less noticeable).

I can know say that I know a bit about Sri Lanka's political strife!

Let's give M.I.A. a little shout-out. I listened to Kala for the first time in a long-time, and here's a track that stood out. It's droned-out and sound's remarkable like that song "Blue Monday" by prodigy. Here it is:

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