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CNN interview censored because MIA uses the G-word

June 25, 2009

Los Angeles Times – Turn it Up

Sounds good to me
by Nic Harcourt


Maya Arulpragasam is an anomaly in many ways. As M.I.A., she has had a lightning-fast rise. From her early singles “Galang” and “Sun­showers,” which spread virally through the Web in 2004, to her 2005 debut album, Arular (named after her father), and 2007’s Kala (named after her mom), she has garnered nothing but critical acclaim.

Major fame struck in 2008 with the song “Paper Planes,” after its use in the trailer for the Seth Rogen stoner flick Pineapple Express and in the Academy Award-winning Slumdog Millionaire. For the latter, M.I.A. received an Oscar nomination along with the film’s composer, A.R. Rahman—Best Original Song for the track “O…Saya.” In February, on the actual due date of her baby, she performed at the Grammys.

Politically, she’s a tireless advocate of the Tamil people, who’ve suffered in the recent civil war in Sri Lanka between the majority Sinhalese and the Tamil Tigers (the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, also known as the LTTE). Life has certainly changed from her early days living in London public housing to her recent engagement to fellow musician and Seagram heir Ben Brewer (né Bronfman, son of former Seagram CEO Edgar Bronfman).

Nic Harcourt: You’re from Sri Lanka—let’s talk about what’s going on there now. As you know, the majority Sinhalese in the Sri Lankan government recently defeated the Tamil Tigers. You’re an ethnic Tamil yourself. How do you feel about what happened?

M.I.A.: It’s really difficult for me to talk about Sri Lanka. One hundred thousand people have died, and there are, like, hundreds of children who’ve been killed by intense shelling in a no-war-zone area, you know? And it’s done by the Sri Lankan government, yet it doesn’t seep into people’s brains, because everyone’s fighting under the blanket of terrorism, and that kind of makes it okay for the government to kill 100 babies in a day and for us not to say, “That s–t is wrong.”

NH: Has the world turned a blind eye to innocent civilians being killed in the name of the war on terror?
M.I.A.: All over world, that is what’s happening. As soon as you say you’re fighting a terrorist, you can kill anyone you want without anyone asking any questions.

NH: Will it change anytime soon?
M.I.A.: Eventually, it’s going to break. I think we’re getting to the end of it. They can say they’ve wiped out the Tamil Tigers, but I think if you’ve killed a certain number of civilians and you’ve called the United Nations and every human­itarian agency liars, it’s going to catch up with you.

NH: Did you defend the Tamil Tigers in any way?
M.I.A.: I don’t give a s–t what they’ve done to the Tigers—they just shouldn’t kill little kids.

NH: Your father, Arul Pragasam, was a founding member of EROS [Eelam Revolutionary Organization of Students], which supported the Tamil independence movement. Do you often feel persecuted because of your dad’s association?
M.I.A.: No, if I didn’t have my music, I wouldn’t be heard, just like the other millions of Tamils who aren’t heard. It’s just weird that I happen to have that association to my dad, who I didn’t grow up with— and that’s been a s–t thing for me.

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