Saturday, August 28, 2010

M.I.A Ruins Everything

What makes M.I.A so interesting? Is it because she is, according to Wikipedia, a "songwriter, record producer, singer, rapper, fashion designer, visual artist, and political activist"? Is it because her real name is Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam, a name we don't usually associate with international songwriter-record producer-singer-rapper-fashion designer-visual artist-political activists? No! The most interesting thing about M.I.A is that she often has a ruinous effect on people who have no idea what she does. I can totally relate to this because I was ruined by integral calculus and I have no idea what that does either. Is it absurd to be ruined by something you know nothing about? Of course not. What matters is that M.I.A just ruins everything. These are some of the most compelling arguments I have heard regarding the ruinous power of M.I.A.

M.I.A Ruins Everything Because She Shamelessly Sells Exotica So White People Will Like Her

There is a long-standing rule which states that if a colored person gets famous among white people, it's because they are shamelessly selling exotica. White people can never be accused of this because they apparently have no shame. A number of factors make M.I.A's brand of exotica-selling flabbergastingly shameless. For one thing, she has a bizarre English accent, which apparently is a 'put-on' to anger and confuse non-white people, particularly Indians who are unsure whether they should claim her as one of their Legion-of-Brown-People-Who-Do-Awesome-Things-In-Other-Countries-Which-Means-They-Are-Indian-Even-If-They-Say-They-Aren't. M.I.A also dresses like the Eighties and Nineties collectively vomited all over her. But perhaps worst of all, M.I.A is a woman and women in general ruin everything because they have uteruses and uteruses ruin everything.

It's only fair to point out that this kind of M.I.A ruination is not that exotic when you consider that pretty much everyone gets accused of selling exotica in this shamelessly shameless fashion. For instance, Indians who write in English apparently sell exotica even when they aren't writing anything. Their very existence is an ongoing exercise in exotica-selling shamelessness. So in this case, it's not just M.I.A. Almost everyone is ruining everything by shamelessly selling exotica. Everyone except white people.

M.I.A Ruins Everything Because She's Not Exotic Enough Despite Being So Exotic

Many people will agree that there is nothing more disappointing than a black person who does not do anything 'black', especially on TV. This is precisely how M.I.A ruins everything for people who desperately want her to do something exotic. For these people, no one else has more potential to be the Discovery Channel with a supercatchy beat than M.I.A. They have no qualms about using the words 'exotic princess' to describe her appearance. They were thrilled when she said something in her foreignnative languages at the beginning of her song 'Ten Dollar'. When describing the way she dresses, they like to mention 'African prints' as often as possible.

It is interesting to note that like the previously-mentioned ruined people, these people are also not happy that M.I.A talks like one of the chimney sweeps from Mary Poppins. I believe it would be in everyone's best interests if M.I.A started speaking Swedish, which is also exotic but in a very non-threatening way.

M.I.A Ruins Everything Because We Can't Tell If She's A Terrorist Or Just Pretending To Be One

It's important to remember that many people outside our corner of the world can't find Sri Lanka on a map and don't know what a Tamil is. So learning that those kitschy tigers on M.I.A's art and in her videos are like the ones used by some terrorist organization from way over there is a bit like looking at a conflict diamond. It's shiny but more importantly, it's dangerous, which is the best kind of shiny. In other words, it's really haut.

But after this initial hautness fades, we find that rather than take the time to explore and understand the actual conflict or issue behind the 'terrorist imagery' that M.I.A uses, it's usually a lot easier to just react to the word 'terrorist'. Which like the word 'racist' is one of those things that many people don't really understand but are scared of anyway. So you get two kinds of ruination here.

PC Ruination- M.I.A is a terrorist and terrorism ruins everything.

Non-PC or 'Edgy' Ruination- M.I.A is just pretending to be a terrorist and pretend terrorists ruin everything.

M.I.A Ruins Everything by Living in Brentwood When She Should Be Living In a Hole in the Ground in a Third World Country

You know how some people buy "African" wooden elephants from some store because they want to tell everyone they got these wooden elephants from Africa when they actually got them from some store? This is sort of what happens when you buy an artist's product not because you're interested in what they're selling, but because you want to appropriate whatever street cred you think that artist has. The risk factor here is that when you believe that street cred has disappeared, the African wooden elephants will suddenly cease to be African and you will feel cheated. Who is to blame? The store? The elephants? Africa? There are no clear answers. All we can say is that it's a real bummer to buy M.I.A paraphernalia as an investment in Third World street cred and then watch her do the most unThirdWorldly thing ever by moving to Brentwood, which is apparently where rich celebrity people like to live in the country of L.A. For some reason, M.I.A would rather live there than in a hole in the ground, which is where all rich and famous Third World people are supposed to live. In this instance, M.I.A ruins everything by being a Third World cheatercock who should be riding on crowded buses and hanging out with scruffy, native 'rebel' factions who like to street dance in their spare time while engaging in harmlessly anti-American behavior. She should not be living in Brentwood.

There is a very ancient proverb in my country that says street cred is like AmericanCallCenter accent. Once people get over the novelty of it, they will start making fun of it. That's not really a proverb in my country but the point is that the move to Brentwood has spawned some fine M.I.A parodies, my favorite so far being M.I.A-Paper Planes Brentwood Redux featuring Lindy Jamil Gomez. But seriously, does M.I.A's music suddenly sound really bad now that she lives in Brentwood? Did it sound 'edgier' when everyone thought it came out of a hole in the ground in Sri Lanka?

If I said I lived in a hole in the ground in a Third World country, would more people buy my book?

An edited version of this article appeared in Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 35, Dated September 04, 2010


soin said...

i read it in the tehelka. and am ore sad. no pictures to illustrate the arguments. also she samples ilayaraja. i can never forgive her for that. orey outrage. and i think some serious tehelka people might be

Snigdha said...

When I saw that everything had been ruined, I knew it! I knew it had to be that M.I.A or Kuzhali Manickavel for sure. Also I believe the only way to get more people to buy your book is to insist that you live in a hole in the ground in a Third World country and that you were raised by insects. Third World Insects.

kuzhali manickavel said...

@ soin- ohai! phust i thot it might be funneh if serious tehelka peepal got confused and thot this article was for realz. then i thot that might not be so funneh eckshully.

@ snigdha- ohai! it is a true, if everything is ruined it's probably me or mia. i personally blame my ruinous behavior on my indifferent and negligent upbringing by third world insects

shruti said...

I agree with soin, there must be great confusion at tehelka place.
You will get a double mention at that convention now, for bringing up another truly barning matter-ruination caused by MIA. This morning, in the paper, MIA's complained that the US just wont give her mother a visa to visit her. something like 'not like she knows how to make a fucking bomb, strap it on and blow it up'.
There lies a whole other, larger story in why MIA's mother wont be given a visa by the white daddies. might I suppose sadly, be much like MIA ruination story.
By the by,all this talk of Mia reminds me,how's yours? I hope just as anarchic and making your small spot on the coast proud!

kuzhali manickavel said...

ohai linkless shruti! indeed, i think some serious peepals are in the confusion while others may be offended by the blatant bandying of the werd 'uterus' that was bandied with such bandying abandon. on the plus side, the werd 'volvo' doesn't appear here at all.

oh my story is totes more anarchisty than mia's because i was raised by third world insects and that's like way worse than bombs and stuff.

Saudha said...

Loved this. It also reminded me why I was so annoyed with the William Dalrymple op-ed in the NYT regarding the whole Park51 brouhaha. Sufis are so fluffy and cute - look, they sing! they twirl! White people totally get brown people singing and dancing to religious ecstasy. These others - the Sunnis and Shias are all so dull, bad and nasty - they don't sing, they don't twirl.

shruti said...

'oh my story is totes more anarchisty than mia's because i was raised by third world insects and that's like way worse than bombs and stuff.'

Totally, and more reason for your book to be bought:)
But I meant the little bookeating Mia. I hope she is greatly anarchistist. :DD My blessings.

kuzhali manickavel said...

@ saudha- hai, thanks for reading i say :) you speak very truly, there is nothing as irksome as ethnic folk who don't sing and twirl. it's like having a toy that won't play with you properly.

@ shruti- little bookeating mia is not mine thankfully. she has since graduated to eating chairs and has somehow learned how to open the liquor cabinet. she has become insane and willful which, as a worthy acquaintance pointed out, is a popular way of describing the first born in many british aristocratic families.

shruti said...

'she has become insane and willful which, as a worthy acquaintance pointed out, is a popular way of describing the first born in many british aristocratic families.'

Huge hahahahas! as in real/internet life LoLs. Your worthy acquaintance says indeedy worthy things.
If she can open liquor cabinets, what's there left to say of her supreme, wild, awesomely cool intelligence? She gets a special pink rose to chew all by herself.
And dont think I didnt notice the absence of volvos, I see you've decidedly decided to give them a wide berth just like k. I dont know if that's very smart though.You never know with volvos.
ok going.

kuzhali manickavel said...

eggzatly. i mean, once you've learned how to open a liquor cabinet, you are fullyready for the life, no?

dont afraid, i'm planning to write a treatise called 'volvos ruin everything' sometime in the future.

WiseDonkay said...

You also ruin everything because you don't mention words like 'kohl' and 'vermilion' often enough in your blog posts.

Incidentally when I hear the word vermilion, I think of a million worms. and then I wonder what kind of medusa-type lady would want a million worms in her hair no?

kuzhali manickavel said...

ohai! you speak truly, i am currently undergoing therapy so that i can do moar better and use those werds more in my blog posts kohl vermillion kohl kohl kohl. vermillion.

i always kinda felt sorry for medusa because having vermillion as she did can't have been very comfortable i am thinking.

Chettinad Cow Girl said...

Respected Miss K,I have composed an opening wrap for your second great Indian novel, please consider it's inclusion if you deem it fit. Thank You

Kaan kohl ke suno.
Kohl and Vermillion
Are worn by our millions
Dhols we beat
Mangoes we eat.
Other fruits we have to
But those may not be too familiar to you
If you make friends with me
I will teach you how to use kohl freely
I will den wrap you in a vermillion sari
And we can eat mangoes yeah
We can eat mangoes ah huh yeah
We cant eat mangoes yeah!
Desi Style...
Mangoes Mangoes Mangoes Mangoes (Echo fade out)

kuzhali manickavel said...

respected chettinad cow girl, this is the most awesome wrap evarevar (desi style holla holla!). i think it would be great for the movie version of my first novel All These Bitches Is My Sons, especially for the scene where the nice indians dance for the non-indian peepal in a non-threatening and welcoming manner.

i totes totes appreciating i say. i've decided to bequeath one of my kidneys to you as a token of my appreciations.

Anonymous said...

"One of my kidneys"... ok it is reassuring to hear you refer to them in the plural. After reading so many references in your stories about kidney theft, kidney sale, kidney donation, and other types of kidney transfer, I was beginning to wonder worriedly how many kidneys you had.

Anonymous said...

Also by the way, how is All These Bitches Is My Sons coming? Is there an estimated release date? I am anxiously awaiting it.

soin said...

did you see the comments on fb on the tehelka page link about your article? highly

kuzhali manickavel said...

@ anonymous- ohai! as far as i know, i only have two kidneys. or one. i hope i have two. also, all these bitches is my sons is coming along slowly, im currently trying to figure out if the phust chapter shud be called mango days or vermillion days. maybe i shud call it mango vermillion days.

@ soin- i did! clearly the power of MIA is so ruinous that articles about her ruin everything, even tehelka.


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