MIA’s New Video Features Religious-Inspired Costumes

This morning, after watching the new Madonna video that features MIA, I decided to watch MIA’s new video for “Bad Girls.” Full disclosure: I am a pretty big MIA fan, and I like the way that she manages to meld pop music and political statements without going too far into cloying/preachy territory. But, that said, I did have a few eyebrow-raising moments during “Bad Girls,” which is set in the Middle East.

At the beginning of the video, MIA is wearing an Arab-style head and face scarf, although it looks like it came from the Versace for H&M collection. Later on in the video, she changes outfits and puts on a black hat with gold chains hanging from it. Despite the styling, it seems clear to me that the outfit’s inspiration were the hats and sidecurls (payos) traditionally worn by Hasidic Jewish men. And the gold chains thing is tied to a pretty tired stereotype about Jews and money – would she have been better off with some strands of beads, perhaps?

MIA’s fiance and baby daddy, Benjamin Brewer, is Jewish (in fact, he’s part of the Bronfman family, which is known for owning Seagram’s and being philanthropists in the Jewish world), and the couple lives in Brooklyn, near several major Hasidic communities. I don’t know if I am scandalized by her outfit, but it’s certainly surprising. MIA is certainly no stranger to controversy, but I wonder if this video led to any interesting conversations with her in-laws.

Anyway, here’s the whole video.

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  • Faith

    What race or religious affiliation would MIA have to be a part of in order for this video to have caused an all-out uproar?

  • Federicovlobos

    But MIA is also playing with the all too common stereotype of the wealthy Arab female body, behind her diaphanous veil–the image to the left. I’m not sure what kind of uproar (if any) either image should be receiving.