to desire the replica

posted on: August 23rd, 2008

I’m diggin’ this song Paper Planes by M.I.A. Catchy, has a sexy world beat kinda sound and the lyrics kick ass in a way that makes you think. It’s getting tons of airplay and the buzz on the net seems to suggest its stirring lots of discussion and maybe just a little bit of controversy. Love it.

My take on her lyrics is a satirical portrayal of the gangster thug mentality “all i wanna do is shoot you motherfuckers and take your damn money” and projecting that to the international scene and The War on Terror ®.

M.I.A (Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam) has what you might call a rather interesting past. Not only was she raised in Sri Lanka amid the chaos of their 22 year civil war, she did so as the daughter of one of the founding member of the Tamil Tigers.

Maya says:

“You can’t separate the world into two parts like that, good and evil. Terrorism is a method. But America has successfully tied all these pockets of independence struggles, revolutions and extremists into one big notion of terrorism. You can’t grab someone by the neck and choke them and then complain they’re kicking you. If you’re going around oppressing people, they will fight back…”

Paper planes middle verse;

“No one on the corner has swagger like us
Hit me on my banner, prepaid wireless
We pack and deliver like UPS trucks
Already going to hell just pumping that gas”

I see that as a well played swipe at the swagger of our “world dominance” ego’s in our western culture, our easy economy with instant text messaging and shipping cheap goods around the globe like its nothing, while it all goes to hell in a handbasket with oil being the golden ticket. We’re racing madly to ensure that we are the ones who get the very last drop of it. Damn the consequences. All we wanna do is send in soldiers to secure that precious oil. BANG BANG BANG and Cha-Ching! We collect the loot. If we don’t then the Russians or Chinese would do the same in our fucked up little world.

We’re all involved and we all have blood on our hands. Yes, all of us. Economic resource exploitation has its ugly side in order to allow us to drive around in our fancy cars, shop at malls, talk shit on cell phones and sit at our computers surfing internet porn. Oh, and build fighter jets and bombers; “If you come around here, I make ‘em all day - I get one down in a second if you wait”. We listen to our shitty pop on MTV, keeps tabs on Britney, Paris and the rest of the Hollywood train wreck brigade and get our world view via misrepresented soundbites on CNN and FOX and label everyone else as terrorists. Instead of watching that shit on Fox, read this.

I kinda think we owe M.I.A. a big fat thank you for injecting her oh so subtle yet powerfull and politically sarcastic undertones to her music. Unfortunately, in our super-size, drive thru, soundbite loving culture, it will fly right over the heads of the lowest common denominators who’ll be getting their panties tied up in a bunch thinking you’re somehow supporting terrorism because your different, because your brown and from a weird far off place and “Isn’t her dad a terrorist or something? Hiding in caves with Bin Laden? That’s what i think i heard.”

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Stever Says:

LOL, at 2:51 the two guys that go up to the truck and hock a gold watch in return for what ever it is MIA is selling are two of the guys from the Beastie Boys.

Paper Planes is a cool tune, love the sample from The Clash’s “Straight to Hell”.

Kim Says:

Emailed to contact page re; MIA post;
“I just wanted to thank you for your blog about MIA. I have been searching the internet up and down to try and figure out what the meaning of paper planes is. It seems like all that I could get was hate sites about M.I.A. It’s nice to read an article that puts their opinions about M.I.A. to the side and actually gets down to the deeper meaning of her song.

courtney Says:

I don’t think she’s talking about text messaging and how easy it is to ship goods all over the place… she’s talking about the phones drug dealers use and how they’re packing and delivering drugs “like UPS trucks”

Kim Says:

I think you are right up to a point Courtney- The drugs are definitely part of what she’s talking about but not to the exclusion of everything else. Everything is at our fingertips and we can do anything ie; buy/sell/steal all with the simple touch of a button.

red Says:

“If you come around here, I make ‘em all day - I get one down in a second if you wait”

Talking about making fake visas for other illegal immigrants trying to make living in U.S. is what I assumed… mainly because the preceding line is:

“If you catch me at the border I got visas in my name”

red Says:

…oh, and I assumed by watching the video that the paper planes effortlessly flying in were the foreigners coming into the states in bunches to become hustlers. Then they get to the fake visa part. I did think the get high was literally talking about smoking weed though, lol.

But those are just my interpretations…

jim Says:

Given her father’s involvement with the Tamil tigers, maybe the prepaid wireless and UPS truck references are about using a cell phone as a remote detonator for a truck bomb…

MIKE Says:

courtney, red, etc…

maybe she is talking about multiple things, using symbolism and metaphors.

just saying, a different way to think.

UPS - could be the USA packing troops and shipping them. / what americans (im american btw…) think about many minorities (drugdealers).

shes prob. talking about how everyone thinks such bad things about the minorities/immigrants, but dont pay as much attention about the bigger things (war in iraq).

MORE THAN ONE MEANING…. the answer to the confusing metaphors that cant possibly be ALL talking about the same exact thing. But their so short and plain, its hard to recognise.

Minu Pillai Says:

It amusing to see there are so many people who believe M.I.A is a terrorist and are against this song being played by radio stations. It would indeed be a sad day when the voices of our intellectuals are muzzled because after all they are the thinking conscious of our country.

Mike Says:

Watch ZEITGEIST on (just search for it).
its the 2 hour videos (or close to it… y’ill find it)

ANYONE who speaks against our government is to be automatically charged with suspected terrorism by our brainwashed society.

Shes not being called a terrorist because anyone feels that MIA will actually carry out an attack on them and/or their country.
Shes being called a terrorist because YOU have been trained (scared into) to label smart people that see what is happening in the world for what it is, as “terrorists”.
Why? because fear is the easiest motivator.
All “they” have to do is charge you with conspiracy, on some kind of “terrorism” and NOBODY will believe a word you say. NOBODY will take you seriously. and…. if you dont get killed, then you will spend your life behind bars. Because thats how it works.

(BTW if you think im stupid or crazy, then you are an IDIOT! And are simply proving my point for me)

Minu Pillai Says:

It would indeed be a sad day when the voices of our intellectuals are muzzled because after all they are the thinking conscious of our country.

That was directed at M.I.A who I believe is brilliant in conveying her message.Pity the fools who don’t get it!

mf doom Says:

mike is right niggaz




No wonder Americas - north Americas best film maker Michael Moore chose Paper Planes
as soundtrack for his lates movie about Wall Street Capitalism.

John K Lindgren

mike Says:

“mike is right niggaz” - thanks, [mf doom].

But I do not endorse your ignorant and insulting use of vocabulary, which only supports the idea of conforming to society’s corruption. (KNOWLEDGE is POWER; ACTION is ASSERTION).

Jane Says:

love your direct writing style about M.I.A.- i am only a year or so late in hearing this song, but i think your analysis is dead on. even though she’s smiling and laughing in the video, there is something heartbreaking about this song as well.

janelle Says:

i actually thought that her song was about buying and selling drugs…cuz in her song she sas “pirate skulls and bones, sticks and stones and weed and bongs” so im pretty sure she is talkin about drugs in her song…and dont get me wrong tho cuz i love the song to death…im probabl the only one that still listens to it but i listen to it so much that im sure she is talkin about drugs.

e Says:

i love this song but the music was ripped from the clash(straight to hell)

dr john Says:

I love this song!

How many movies has Paperplanes been featured in?

Dr John

[...] about a zillion years ago I put up a post about M.I.A’s “Paper Planes” which, much to my surprise, is still one of my [...]

jess Says:

it’s about selling weed!

Cats_Eye Says:

A few years ago MIA was denied a visa by the United States. The reason was seen as the lyrics in her album Sunflowers, which seem to “extol the virtues” the Tamil Tigers. U.S. officials took it to mean that she was affiliated in some way, without any evidence and the fact that she had already obtained proper documentation to enter the U.S.

“If you catch me at the border I got visas in my name
If you come around here, I make ‘em all day
I get one down in a second if you wait”

The song is a mocking and emphatic “screw you” to anyone making erroneous assumptions about illegal aliens, terrorists, drug dealers and the songwriters who sing about them.

Cats_Eye Says:

BTW…I believe it’s “burner” (disposable pre-paid wireless phone) rather than “banner”.

LB Says:

This song is deep. I love it. ITs like man. It unites minorities around the world!!! On another side of it this song also unites people who have to make it happen on their own outside of the boundaries of the law. I love it!!! People do what they have to do, and I don’t hate any illegal immigrant for it to be honest!!!! What were they suppose to do? starve in their home countries and not support their families. I’m hoping for one world gov’t one day!


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