The 's Video For Bad Girls

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With souped-up cars, gold clad attire and reckless behavior, M.I.A’s video for Bad Girls is the definition of “life in the fast lane”. M.I.A, an alternative hip-hop artist, stays true to her roots in Bad Girls, beginning the video with bass beats that are characteristic of the hip-hop genre―immediately making you feel the music and want to dance along. All the while, she still captures the essence of the video by mixing traditional hip-hop rhythms with a Mediterranean flair, giving the song an overall hypnotic quality with a hint of sex appeal.

Despite its upbeat tempo and steady beat, lyrically and visually, Bad Girls is full of political and social undertones. The first verse of the song, “Live fast, die young, bad girls do it well”,
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Throughout the video, drifting and “sandal skating” (figure 1) take place. Despite these activities being usually performed by men, the video shows women driving the cars (figure 2) in which the men are sandal skating from. These frames of the video highlight the traditional male frivolity and opulence, contrasting the privilege that men have with the opportunity that women lack, but also empowers women by putting them in a position of power in which they would not normally assume.

The video for Bad Girls continues to touch on the topic of feminism and gender equality through the clothing choices. In the video, a variety of women are represented. Some wear traditional Arab attire that covers everything, only revealing the eyes, while others, M.I.A included, wear more westernized clothing with touches of Middle Eastern and South East Asian accents (figure 3). Both types of clothing are presented as lavish, taking on bright colors and dripping in shimmering fabrics, occasionally draped with gold chains, as she references in the song itself. As a result, attention is brought towards the women, showing that they too can partake in the tradition of male opulence.

Despite M.I.A’s attempts to make the stereotypes of Arab women the center of this video, it was this exact reason as to why she received so much backlash from it. Many argued that instead of increasing the visibility of Arab women in the media, the
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