M.I.A. is nothing if not provocative. Yesterday saw the release of the agitpop rapper's self-directed music video for Double Bubble Trouble, one of the tracks off her 2013 album Matangi. Like much of her work in the past decade, it's making a statement; in our dark technofuture, youths will use what they can to resist however they can.
The video starts off with an audio newscast introducing 3D-printed guns, which are ever-present in the short as the teens around her make out, blow vape rings, and dance under floating drones in their gray, grimy slums. At one point, a scrawl of "1984 is Now" flashes over the action. Still, the teens in her video seem to be actively subverting this particular vision of an Orwellian dystopia, even if they're trapped by it. The guns themselves, printed on in-home Ultimaker 3D printers and shown off with pride, are decorated with bright colors and wild patterns, and the drones flash peace signs. M.I.A., who's no stranger to using symbols of violence to advance her politics, even flashes a sky blue gun herself and vapes with the best of them. The action falls short of glorifying the symbols she uses — surveillance culture and access to weaponry have clearly gone too far — but she creates an interesting tension between empowering her cohort and telling a cautionary tale.
Update 5/21 9:45am: A previous version of this post incorrectly identified the 3D printers in the music video as Makerbots. The article has been updated.