Hey y’all—did anyone hear about the new music video for M.I.A.’s “Born Free”? Well, it happened. And—what, with its dirty language, full-on nudity and massacre of redheaded boys—it’s got people riled. New York argues that “it’s a beautifully shot, fully unsettling imagining of a military-style raid on an apartment building in a totalitarian state where redheads are outlawed,” while MTV says that the video “depicts the kind of things that most nations—including the U.S., which is portrayed as the aggressor in the clip—often pretend don’t happen.” One commenter on the Huffington Post writes, “If [M.I.A.’s] English is any clue, she’s probably pretty stupid.” Others, like this commenter, would rather spark Gaga debate than discuss genocide: “Wow, what does Gaga have to do with this? The only thing interesting about Lady Gaga is the way she dresses. Her music is no more thought provoking than a Brittney [sic] Spears song. Her videos are just as weak.” But M.I.A. certainly isn’t the first inductee into the pantheon of controversial music videos.
Whether you’re offended by skin, swears or the close-up of a boy getting shot in the head, here are seven pioneers who should be getting thank-you notes from M.I.A. very shortly:
Nine Inch Nails, “Closer” (1994).
Serge Gainsbourg and Charlotte Gainsbourg, “Lemon Incest” (1984).
Madonna, “Like a Prayer” (1989).
George Michael, “I Want Your Sex” (1987).
Tool, “Stinkfist” (1996).
Master P, “Gutta Time” (2006).
Pearl Jam, “Jeremy” (1992).