Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Mother's Day Treat

With Mother's Day winding down, if you're feeling a little bit underwhelmed, I have the perfect solution for you: watch the British TV show Skins.

Whether you're a mother or a child, this show is guaranteed to make you appreciate your loved ones. Skins is excuse the phrase, the mother of all teen dramedies.

I have a not-so-secret secret: teen shows are my guilty pleasure. I guess I just have a soft spot for over-the-top story lines. As a kid, I was really into Saved By the Bell. As a college student, I moved on the Degrassi, which blew my mind because it seemed so much more topical than SBTB, I mean school shooting? Whoa, that shit got real. Then last year, my friend Mike introduced to me to Skins, the show that is probably best known for launching the career of Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel. This show, with its nudity, graphic sex and drug scenes, among other you-can't-see-do-that-on-American-TV moments, makes Degrassi look like preschool programming.

Watch a Skins mini-marathon and you will feel both emotionally drained and also, you will gain a whole new appreciation for everything in your life. Now in its fourth season, the show follows two sets of schoolmates (the first two seasons focus one group who graduates and leaves the show, and seasons three and four feature a new set of friends). Each episode plays out like a train wreck. There's usually a high point for the character the episode is based on followed by some sort of cringworthy moment. You can't take your eyes of off it. You NEED to know what happens next.

The reason these kids have ridiculous lives is because they run around wild. For the most part, their parents really could care less and it's the emotional scarring their families have caused them which serve as the catalyst for their (often) selfish actions.

In the spirit of mother's day, I will give you a taste of the show. The most notable mothers on the show either:
A. Abandoned her young family and does not attempt contact with them
B. Bails on her son without so much as a word, rendering him a virtual orphan
C. Conducts an affair with her husband's business partner while her kid's at home
D. Are lushes/drug addicts/possible exotic dancers
E. Forced her son to leave the country

As you can see, these kids are messed up. And throughout the series, some amazing things happen to them. But mostly, some unbelievably shitty events occur to throw roadblocks in their lives. I guarantee you, you watch this show, which in the US can either be seen on BBC America or can be downloaded from, and you will want to call your mom/dad/son/daughter/etc. just to let them know how much you love them.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Lately, one music video's been receiving a lot of attention. Though I love the video for the Lady Gaga-Beyonce colab "Telephone," I haven't discussed it on this blog, because frankly, I feel like it's been dissected on every other blog.

Rather, there's another music video that shares a few elements with the aforementioned short film that I would like to talk about today. The mini-movie that is roughly the same length and has drawn as much controversy as Gaga's video, but that you may have heard less about is MIA's "Born Free."

That's because the 9-minute long film from the UK-artist has been banned from YouTube. Why? Well, just watch the video below to see.

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

Don't have the attention span to watch a 9-minute film? I'll summarize. "Born Free" is less a music video and more of a political statement. The music part of the music video is secondary to the imagery. "Born Free" depicts what has been referred to as the "genocide" of the minority group of ... wait for it ... redheads. It is violent, to be sure. There is full-on nudity. And it is very graphic.

Does the explicit nature of "Born Free" warrant its removal from YouTube? A spokesman for the site has been quoted as saying, "On YouTube the rules prohibit pornography or gratuitous violence. If the content breaks our terms then we remove it." Though extremely disturbing, I don't agree with MIA's video being banned from the popular broadcast site's airwaves. I've seen some truly sickening stuff on YouTube, both in terms of nudity and violence, so I think the site needs to cop to the real reason "Born Free" was taken off the site.

I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that young, white red-haired kids are executed at gunpoint in the video. It's truly fucked up. And when I was first heard about it, I remember thinking, MIA, why? There's barely any music in this music video! I thought perhaps she was just trying to be reactionary. That's sort of her trademark.

Then I dug deeper. As the daughter of a Tamil revolutionary, she is a known political activist. Through some research, I found out MIA has been rather outspoken on the topic of Tamil genocide in Sri Lanka during the Sri Lankan Civil War. If you live anywhere other than Sri Lanka, you may not have heard of this genocide. According to some reports, tens of thousands of members of the Tamil ethnic minority were massacred by the Sri Lankan government in 2009 alone. The government denies such actions, of course.

Honestly, MIA did something really smart with "Born Free." I've blogged before about how redheads are a silent minority, especially in the UK. Showing redheads (especially children) being rounded up and killed in such a gruesome manner, MIA has created a call to arms. I've seen pictures of real executed children in Sri Lanka; let me tell you, that is disturbing.

People in the UK or US may not have ever heard of the plight of the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka, but they know and can relate to redheads. MIA's "Born Free" is not shocking just to be shocking; rather, it aims to shock the viewer into a realization. By depicting a genocide targeting the red-head population, MIA demonstrates that this could happen to you; it's not just the concern of some faraway group of people. Now if only we could transfer some of the outrage over this video to outrage over the treatment of Tamils in Sri Lanka.