Mia Culpa

ILB, and its associates, will never tire of clowning on Simon Reynolds, but in fairness the man is right a lot more frequently than he’s wrong. I think his real problem is that he’s never been fully comfortable with the 1500 to 4000 word long article, so he tends to throw in a lot of obvious padding, needless diversions and poorly conceived “hey, here’s a thought” moments, which then get turned into the main thrust of his article by sub-editors. Case in point: his famous “don’t let the brown skin throw you off” comment about MIA seems like what you’d expect from a private-school educated Oxford graduate, a culturally awkward “they bring a lot of colour to this tournament, but they’re so naive defensively” moment.

However, the point he was grasping at was that MIA is, for all intents and purposes, English, not Sri Lankan. She was born in England, grew up in England away from any Sri Lankan ex-pat communities, in the absence of her father (or so she, at least, claims) wasn’t raised in any Sri Lankan tradition, and then went on to the most English of past-times: art school and dicking around with shitty indie bands. And yet people still find her exotic because… what? We’re that desperate for a fappable Asian counter-culture figure that we’re prepared to overlook MIA’s tache and declare her it? I’ve seen smoother upper lips on Gordon Kaye.

Which is why the New York Times’ article, and MIA’s fantastically (read “cuntish”) petulant response to it, shouldn’t really have come as a surprise. MIA is a common or garden dumb middle-class English girl, the kind of person who, if a couple of doors hadn’t opened for her in her life so far, would right now be working in PR, advertising, or some sort of online start-up where they combine organic vegetable boxes with flotation tanks. The kind of girl who thinks it’s a really good idea to hire a stretch limousine have a fancy dress murder mystery dinner party.

Why am I down on her, though, when the usual ILB schtick is to plead for some sort of intra-national immigrant kinship where the wops and the micks and the polacks and the national epiphets terms I can’t type here and pretty much everyone except the Spanish and the South Africans (cunts the pair of them) get together and Make A Stand? Well… well, look at this:

That’s recording artiste Dizzee Rascal fielding a question about whether or not they’ll be a black prime minister in the UK any time soon on Newsnight. Now… why is that there? Is Dizzee Rascal, say, a political columnist? Does he secretly edit the diary column in the Evening Standard when he’s not being stabbed in the arse (nullus)? Is he known for his political lyrics? Is he known for being erudite or zingy or even dumb enough to be vaguely controversial when he opens his mouth? No. He’s there because he’s black and god forbid we get anyone who’s black and qualified to talk in to discuss matters.

Do people ask The View their thoughts on the West Lothian Question? Did I miss the one who looks like a dead fish from The Saturdays giving this year’s Royal Institution Christmas Lecture? Can I tune in to Newsnight Review this week and see Cascada exchanging barbs with Tom Paulin? No, no and no. It’s a form of… it’s not actually, (and let me drop my one allocated vaguely offensive term a month here), “cooning” because it’s not actually putting forward a denigrated image of your own culture/ethnicity. It’s more like a collusion between lazy, starstruck production teams and people, like MIA, who start believing their own hype, start believing that they have something of consequence to say.

If music journalism in the UK had anyone competent working in it AT ALL, MIA would have been cast from the start as a Crispin Mills-style figure, always saying something inane, retarded or racist. In this instance, maybe MIA would have one day recorded a song as good as “The Sound of Drums”, but I doubt it. Instead, now, if I’m a young Sri Lankan girl in the UK, who do I have to look up to as a cultural icon other than, say, Shashikala Siriwardene? I’ve got a woman whose Twitter account contains a level of erudition, composition and education more commonly associated with people leaving comments on Jedward Youtubes. And then I’m going to get put in an arranged marriage and/or have sulphuric acid thrown in my face. So at least things will pick up for me.

I mean, at the end of the day: for a woman who talks about how she was from THE PROJECTS and had a CRIME-STREWN UPBRINGING…. she’s from the same fucking hometown as Phil Collins. And Charles Hawtrey. CHARLES HAWTREY. I despair.

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  1. Nabisco
    May 28, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    When Petridis writes his review of /\/\/\**/\, zings on quotes from the NYT article are gonna make up the first three paragraphs, for definite.

  2. May 30, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    aaw shit, why the south african hate? we’re all about intra-national immigrant kinship 🙂

  3. MF
    May 31, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Is it racist to say that Pakistani chix are either jaw-droppingly beautiful or hairy disgusting hogs and there’s absolutely no inbetween whatsoever?

  4. Miss Mia Wallace
    August 6, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Um, pretty unrelated to the story! Any ideas how the girl in the picture got her fake injection to stay on?! I’ve got to do Miss Mia Wallace fancy dress for my 30th next weekend and have no idea how to get the fake injection to stay on…

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