Review of M.I.A. song ;Borders; by M.I.A
Artist M.I.A recently released politically charged song called “Borders”, which challenges the norms of today’s society and the way we identify as people. Through the powerful lyrics and visually stunning music video for the song “Borders” hip-hop artist M.I.A questions what’s up with today’s corrupted society as well as why we as people put up walls against each other socially and nationally. The entirety of the song is a political cry for major change in our culture in hopes for more unified and equal future for all of humanity.
The song’s introduction starts with questioning the true meaning of freedom and M.I.A is saying that instead of freedom we as people have adopted “I’dom” or” Me’dom”. Many people tend to fight for the individual rights of only a certain group of people or are only concerned with one’s own freedom. This separation of identities defies our togetherness as human beings. The diverse world we live in is fueled by many forms of prejudices and racism which is the result of the misunderstanding, lack of education, or plain ignorance of a culture or certain identity. We as people need to be focused on the rights and freedom of all people despite race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, hence: “We’dom is the key.”
The first verse state’s a multiple of controversial political issues in a purposefully simplistic manner, each followed with the same question, “what’s up with that?” For example, M.I.A sings the line “borders” and then asks after “what’s up with that?” Other points the first verse includes are the following: “borders, politics, police shots, identities, you’re privilege, broke people, boat people, the realness and the new world”. All of which are followed with the same burning question “what’s up with that?”. M.I.A argues that this is the world that we have been brought into and there is really no answer to our unjust reality. One would think “what’s up with that?” is a fair question when considering police brutality, the immigration crisis, poverty, and the white privilege. The question itself is so powerful because many people do not know “what’s up” with these injustices in our society.
The second verse takes a deeper insight on corruption of today’s society by looking at matters beyond the politics and focusing on pop culture. M.I.A makes an interesting point by questioning something as simple as the slang our generation has developed on social media. The examples M.I.A chose to put in her song are following:“queen” “killing it” “slaying it” “you’re goals” “being bae”. Once again all followed with“what’s up with that?” These sayings seem pretty silly when said aloud but somehow through the internet these have become societal norms of social media communication and are even used to describe someone our society considers to be great like Beyonce. These expressions used on a regular basis show the shallowness of our generation and unimportant characteristics and mannerisms that are so commonly glorified.
M.I.A questions a few more aspects of pop culture including “breaking the internet, what’s up with that?” This refers to Kim Kardashian’s nude cover for Paper Magazine that was captioned “break the internet”. This picture made its way to almost everyone on the internet because of the provocative nature and superficial qualities that once again are glorified. People tend to focus so much on irrelevant social media obsessions, such as a picture of Kim Kardashian’s butt, rather than focusing on genuine current affairs such as 46.7 million people currently living in poverty.
People separate themselves from the world of suffering when it does not directly identify with them. The lack of concern for people in suffering has had a catastrophic impact on our world. In the music video to the song “Borders” M.I.A choses to bring light to the current European immigration crisis by showing hundreds of people trying to climb large barbed wired fence. There were also scenes where people were looking like they are in suffering while traveling across sea on overcrowded boats. This is just one example of a major issue being ignored by our society. Many of these immigrants are Muslim, therefore, Americans chose to not identify with them. We disassociate with them by labeling the entire culture as extremists and terrorists. This is the result of Americans being uneducated and ignorant to the religion of Islam and other Middle Eastern culture. Because we assume they are all dangerous, we deny these people safety and haven in our country while they continue to live in conditions where they are fearful of their lives on an everyday basis. It is easier for us to separate ourselves from them so we can block them out and ignore the horrific circumstances that hundreds of thousands of people are currently facing.
The song “Borders” by M.I.A argues that identities are still used to put people against each other. We separate ourselves from them because of our differences and put up walls or “borders” to ignore the harsh reality of our corrupt world. Whether it’s one’s race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, etc. the difference of identities are used to separate people from each other.In the final verse M.I.A gets to the root of discrimination. She questions “egos, your values, your beliefs, your families, history” and asks again “what’s up with that.”Our identities are being question on a personal level. What’s up with our beliefs and values that tell us it’s okay to discriminate? What’s up with our families? What’s up with our history? Why do we as humans continuously allow for an unequal society that only privileges white people.M.I.A argues that this is the “North, South, East, and Western.” We are one. We as one need to stop separating ourselves by identities and ignoring those who are different. Together as simply humans we can end the reign of dominant cultures and finally stop discrimination and injustice against minorities. “We dem smartphones don’t be dumb.” -M.I.A