Just when it looked like the ongoing storm over MIA’s MAYA might finally have died down, along comes Diplo to stir it all up again. Lynn Hirschberg’s infamous hatchet job for the New York Times did MIA’s image a great deal of harm, but not because of the truffle fries controversy – if anything, the most damaging quotes came from her ex-collaborator and ex-boyfriend, who dismissed her “whole terrorism gimmick.” He’s expanded on his views this week in an interview with WWD, where he suggests that she “glamorize[d] terrorism” with the album – despite his entreaties not to do so – and that “when it comes to die-hard, facts-on-the-ground politics, she’s at zero. She’s nothing.”
The quotes have set off another storm of online commentary about the duo’s relationship. The reportage thus far has gone something like this: “Diplo has launched a scathing attack on MIA,” says the Guardian. “Diplo has laid into former collaborator and former flame MIA,” says FACT. And so on. This has all probably both delighted both Diplo himself – after all, any publicity is good publicity – and the magazine that published the quotes in the context of what’s otherwise basically a puff piece, largely devoted to Diplo’s presence in Blackberry commercials and his new Beyoncé remix.
But wait. It’s hard to not see something distinctly mean-spirited in all this. After all, it’s not the first time he’s “launched a scathing attack” in the press – in fact, he’s spent much of the last year slagging off MAYA the album (tweeting that it was a “turd” and telling BlackBook last year that she “didn’t care” about it) and Maya the artist, so much that you can’t help but wonder whether there’s an element of sour grapes about it all. We’re not saying there is – ultimately, that’s something that only she and he know the answer to.
But either way, Diplo’s side of the story seems to be accepted without question by the music press, with nary a suggestion that his motivations might lie as much in the fact that his ex is substantially more famous than he is than in a genuine concern about the trajectory of her career. If it’s truly the latter, surely there are better ways to address the issue than sniping in the press that “she’s kind of really gone crazy” (again, from the WWD article). And ever since the Hirschberg piece and the release of what is admittedly a fairly lackluster record, the music press has been remarkably eager to follow Diplo’s lead and sink their collective boot into an artist they used to support.
As far as we’re concerned, we’ve always seen MIA as someone who, if nothing else, is a cut above the average pop artist, and someone who does genuinely care about the issues she addresses – not an impression you’d gain from reading Lynn Hirschberg, nor, indeed, from these latest Diplo quotes. But while Diplo does have a point when he suggests that MIA’s strident and often questionably-informed political tirades “leave [her] open for attacks,” ultimately this whole situation is unedifying for all concerned – we really wish Diplo would shut up about MIA and concentrate on Mad Decent, and that she’d also get back to making fantastic records instead of enemies. Sigh.