Celebrities often talk about themselves as if they’re among the most important people in the world. Rapper M.I.A is different. She has spent her career talking about some of the most marginalised people on the planet, including victims of war and in particular, refugees. Now she has an opportunity to tell her story without being ignored. If anyone deserves to make a film about themselves it is M.I.A.
Matangi/Maya/M.I.A is not just an insight into her life. It’s also a statement about the music industry, politics, the media and why the world needs more artists who use their platforms to speak out. We learn who M.I.A is as an artist and why her voice is so important. We see how her fearless attitude coined her success and why she can never just “shut up” about what matters. And in a world which profits from oppression and exploitation she shows us how speaking up isn’t easy and the system has tried to disregard her multiple times. In her own words, she admits: “the worst thing they could do to you is make you irrelevant”.
The documentary is a window into what actually happened with the controversies she found herself caught up in, in particular the moment she swore into the camera at the American Super Bowl in 2012. The financial consequences she was facing indicated that holding your middle finger up to a TV screen for a second in America is “worse than being a murderer”. And it is clear that where she comes from and what she says make her an easy target for the right wing media. Fox News asked why M.I.A was even invited to perform, when they could have brought on someone American.
This is a film for young women who are tired of being dismissed. In a world where people are increasingly worried about what others think, M.I.A is a breath of fresh air as someone who truly doesn’t care. She has compiled footage from throughout her life to shed light on her reality and why she is fighting. This is the movie of the year for young, Asian women who aren’t taken seriously and whose experiences are rarely talked about. This film exists to inspire courage in those who are constantly shut down for criticising ruthless governments and fighting for humanity in a world of inequality, racism and war. To us M.I.A is a hero.