… this is ancient news by today’s standards, but there’s something I took away from this whole “Truffle-gate” fiasco and meant to post about awhile back.
so here goes, just in case you missed these entertaining NY Times and Pitchfork articles a couple months ago, one of which led MIA to angrily tweet the columnist’s personal phone number… It’s like 5th grade all over again, yay! and all of this over a silly article about whether musicians and artists are “out of line” when they start to talk politics. But who am I to call this silly? I live for this kind of crap : )
Apparently columnist Lynn Hirschberg of the NY Times penned a disparaging column in May in which she pointed out Maya’s hypocrisy and lack of coherence when talking about the political violence in her home country of Sri Lanka. Throughout the column, Hirschberg intersperses Maya’s typical “I’m-such-a-badass, I’m-in-alliance-with-the-Tamil-Tigers-terrorist-groups” quotes with descriptions of what she was ordering at some shi-shi restaurant in LA during the interview.
To Hirschberg’s credit, the article was brilliantly written … acutely obnoxious, and a textbook example of “don’t just tell the reader what happened, SHOW them.” She doesn’t so much criticize MIA as simply assemble the pure facts — MIA’s verbatim quotes, the now-famous fancy “truffles-flavored french fries” she was eating while stating, “I kind of want to be an outsider,” and the fact that MIA and her fiance just bought a ginormous estate in LA — and Hirschberg somehow manages to depict MIA as a snot-nosed celeb who’s either an untouchable genius of the global marketing world or else a total hypocritical idiot who doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
As cogently written as it was, I hardly agree with Hirschberg’s assessment. It sorta sounds like she had it in for MIA before the interview even began. The NY Times eventually issued a correction to the column, revealing that a couple statements were pieced together out of chronological order and thus taken out of context. And MIA also issued a recording of the interview in which Hirschberg herself “suggested” the ordering of these infamous truffles-flavored French fries. What a biatch Hirschberg was, as it turns out. Now the real question at hand — how do I get my hands on some of these truffles-flavored French fries?
Pitchfork then ran something of a “response piece” on this whole dilly. One quote from the article (see below) rang very true to me and is the main thing I wanted to share here, more than any of this catty bullshit. The quote defends MIA’s right to talk politics in her role as an artist. It sorta echoes what Howard Zinn said in his Artist in Times of War essays (which I posted on a couple months ago).
“After all, people don’t need to be “sophisticated” to be right. People don’t need to be nuanced or thoughtful to say something important. (Sometimes sophistication is a way of keeping people powerless– ignoring anyone who doesn’t speak your diplomatic language.) And people definitely don’t need to be any of those things to release good music. Hirschberg isn’t much interested in the music; in that sense, the piece is like reading breaking news that Public Enemy’s politics may have been– get this– somewhat messy or incoherent. And politics is important, but so are love, sex, religion, and how we treat one another as human beings– all topics we’re often fine with pop musicians acting out in ways that are contradictory, unsubtle, or problematic. We don’t need musicians to be “right” so much as we need them to be resonant– and at least not objectionably wrong.”
Well said, Nitsuh Abebe of Pitchfork.