The XX Factor

Pop and Roar

Yesterday, YouTube pulled this latest video from M.I.A ., which shows American soldiers hassling some civilians in an unnamed ethnic city; in the opening shot a terrified woman seems to have fainted, or been shot dead. The aesthetics-soldiers stalking people on roofs, tense wartime chaos-look a lot like The Hurt Locker . This is what’s always been the most interesting thing about M.I.A. She is aggressively, crudely political, but not at all in the way of most female pop stars. Like Katherine Bigelow, her favorite subject is war and its consequences. And she hates being compared to Lady Gaga , whom she considers just the latest iteration of useless girl-pop protest.