Rapper M.I.A. Remixes Violence With Peace-Sign Drones and 3-D-Printed Uzis

After watching the video for 'Double Bubble Trouble,' you'll wonder how 'Yes we can' morphed into 'Yes we scan.'
May 20, 2014·
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

When it comes to taking on the establishment and addressing politically charged subjects, rapper M.I.A. has never been one to hold her tongue. After all, the chorus of her biggest hit, 2007’s "Paper Planes"—a song about greed, weapons, and immigrants—features the sound of a gun shooting and reloading along with the ding of a cash register opening. (Let’s also not forget that the NFL is suing her for $16.6 million for flipping the bird and mouthing profanity during her appearance with Madonna at the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show.)

So it should be no surprise that for her self-directed video for the track "Double Bubble Trouble," M.I.A. dives headfirst into the world of neon, 3-D-printed guns and LED-lit peace-sign drones and refers to the book 1984—all against a background that reads “Yes we scan,” a clever play on Obama’s campaign slogan “Yes we can.”

The video starts out with innocuous yet slightly ominous footage of a moving 3-D printer accompanied by a newscaster-style voice-over. “What if you could make weapons like these in your own home?” the voice says. “This sounds like science fiction, but to some, it’s not so far-fetched.”

Surely that’s a direct hit at M.I.A.’s critics, who have accused her of using her music to profit (so she can buy truffle fries) by stirring the crazy conspiracy theorist pot. But in a post-WikiLeaks, post–Edward Snowden, post-3-D-printed-house world where drones are being used to deliver Coca-Cola to thirsty construction workers, the themes M.I.A. has tackled in her music no longer seem quite so outlandish.

The video also plays on our stereotypical fears of chain-smoking, scary-dog-owning, gun-toting youths. However, the Millennials in the video dance in front of a “drone survival guide” poster, which ought to make us all ask: If 1984 is here, who (or what) should we actually be afraid of?