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M.I.A. on Politics to Rolling Stone: "I Never Said I'm Smart"

May 27, 2010 6:13 PM ET

On her Twitter this morning, M.I.A. attacked New York Times writer Lynn Hirschberg over a profile (set to appear in print this weekend but available online now) that addresses the artist's politics and upbringing in Sri Lanka. ""CALL ME IF YOU WANNA TALK TO ME ABOUT THE N Y T TRUTH ISSUE," she Tweeted, adding Hirschberg's phone number. "ill b taking calls all day bitches." In the piece, Hirschberg implies that M.I.A. doesn't understand the complex political web of Sri Lanka and that violent videos like "Born Free," in which red-headed children are assassinated by military police, are "exploitative" and "hollow." She also addresses M.I.A.'s moving to an upscale Los Angeles neighborhood and getting married to Benjamin Bronfman, son of mogul Edward Bronfman, Jr. "What Maya wants is nearly impossible to achieve: she wants to balance outrageous political statements with a luxe lifestyle; to be supersuccessful yet remain controversial," Hirschberg wrote.

Rolling Stone contributing editor Jenny Eliscu was with M.I.A. in London around the same time as Hirschberg, reporting a story for the magazine in an upcoming issue. Eliscu talked extensively to the singer about the personal basis for her political beliefs. "If I want to be really political, I’d have to sit down and study you know," M.I.A. told Eliscu. "But I feel like my approach to politics is [that] I never said I’m smart and I read this and I’m making assumptions. But why aren’t I allowed to write about my experience? Why can’t I say, 'Oh my God, my school got shot by the government? I can’t say that, yet they can do it. But I want to be able to still say it somewhere. There needs to be some sort of an outlet for people like me."

On allegations that her art lacks a deep political message, M.I.A. said, "What I like about my stuff is that, whether it's contrived or not, there’s an art to being contrived, too. You can have fun with something. I like the freedom to sort of point out that creativity kind of should work like that: it should be really instant."

Hirschberg — who wrote a controversial Vanity Fair cover story in 1992 on Courtney Love, in which the writer reported that Love admitted to using heroin while pregnant with child Frances Bean — reacted today to M.I.A.’s Tweets. In an interview with the New York Observer , Hirschberg said, "It's a fairly unethical thing to do, but I don't think it's surprising," she continued. "She's a provocateur and provocateurs want to be provocative."

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