While M.I.A.’s music could be the kind of heady stuff that prompts people to organize around social change, this clearly hasn’t happened.
Last week, M.I.A. dropped a video for her new song, “Bad Girls.” It’s a good encapsulation of what the singer does best: embrace diverse acts of political and cultural rebellion and re-cast them as sexy and powerful. In the video, women dressed in burqas raise their fists skyward as they drive. M.I.A. herself strikes a nonchalant pose on the side of a car while it improbably skates, two-wheeled, across a desert highway. The camera pans along a line of men dressed in keffiyehs who stare coolly at the viewer. It’s a defiant video that recalls the thrilling energy of the Arab Spring.