You know gangsta rap isn't quite so scary anymore when the likes of 50 Cent is considered safe enough to be the face of a line of vitamin enhanced sugar water. M.I.A., on the other hands, probably scares the heck out of lots of folks on the Giuliani mailing list with her militant and third world appropriation of hip-hop. M.I.A. takes the g-rap cliches of slinging dope and banking money, but adds a nice post-millennial terrorist spin with verses about forging visas and murdering hostages. Director Bernard Gourley — who has established some impeccable rap credentials with videos for The No Limit crew, Three 6 Mafia, E-40, etc, etc — plays down the menace, choosing instead to reinforce the connection to hip-hop by portraying M.I.A. as some sort of undercover dealer. Imagine Master P's "Ice Cream Man" — worth watching that clip just for the site of P clutching his old school mobile phone — as a food vendor in one of those ubiquitous Halal street carts. Nice. The rest of the video matches pastiche style of the song with a quick cameo by original hip-hop outsiders Beastie Boys and an intro with "Paper Planes" descending upon NYC.
At the end of the day, though, this video is really just a means to the slyly manufactured controversy that M.I.A. whipped up when she posted a (ow disappeared) rambling and ALL-CAPS blog post about how she was shocked — shocked! — that the song's distinctive gunshot chorus would have to be edited for play on any responsible corporate channel and decided to sabotage a big MTV run. It's a ballsy and calculated move that would have made The Clash proud — the ultra-catchy and compelling "Paper Planes" is basically a remix of the Combat Rock track "Straight To Hell" — but I have to say that one cringing look at this YouTube clip of two chicks doing it up M.I.A.-style is all I needed to understand why most TV stations either avoids or throws warnings on anything that might provoke imitable behavior. --> watch "Paper Planes"
M.I.A. "Paper Planes" (Interscope)
Bernard Gourley, director/editor | Maryann Tanedo , producer | Immigrant Film, production co | Robin Frank Management, rep | Joe Maswell, DP | Baked Goods, vfx