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The music video for British artist M.I.A.’s new single “Born Free” has been pulled from the U.S. and UK YouTube sites — not for any legal or copyright reason, but because the video’s content was deemed too extreme for the site.

The video depicts an American police or military force storming an apartment complex, destroying property, pulling a naked couple from bed mid-coitous and brutalizing them, then extracting a young redheaded man from his home and violently escorting him out of the building. The young man is forced into a bus full of other redheads, who are driven out to the desert, verbally and physically abused and finally exterminated with guns, batons and artillery.

M.I.A’s music has always dealt with political violence in the developing world in stark contrast to her club-friendly, energetic sound. M.I.A. is of Sri Lankan descent and lived there as a child. Her father was a political activist for Tamil militant groups and was hunted by authorities from multiple countries. M.I.A.’s family was forced by the civil war to flee to India, where her school was destroyed by the government. She moved to London as a refugee.

The “Born Free” video’s themes are born out of those early experiences and informed by current anti-American sentiment. It’s all the more controversial because the U.S. authorities appear to be an occupying force, and because its final scenes borrow imagery from Iraq, Vietnam and Abu Ghraib. It was described by an MTV music reporter as “brutally graphic” and an “unflinchingly, unapologetically real … statement on the treatment of minorities.”

Controversial music videos are a standing tradition. Artists like Madonna, The Prodigy and, more recently, Lady Gaga [explicit links] have released videos that have offended many viewers, but this one seems to go a step farther than most both with its political message and its extremely violent imagery.

The video is still available at M.I.A.’s website and at Vimeo. We’ve embedded the Vimeo version below, but be warned that it includes very disturbing images, including full-frontal nudity, exploding bodies and — perhaps most shocking of all — a child executed by a bullet to the head. Needless to say, it’s not for everyone.

M.I.A. – “Born Free” [EXPLICIT]

M.I.A, Born Free from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.

[via The New York Times]

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Tags: born free, entertainment, mia, music, music videos, politics, Vimeo, youtube