Pop star M.I.A. was cancelled from music festival Field Day in light of her “online comments.” The festival, which prides itself on presenting “some of electronic music's most revered artists,” claimed that M.I.A.'s comments “could be viewed as being quite contentious,” and that this makes it “very hard” for the fesitval to continue with her booking.
“After discussing it with AEG,” the message to M.I.A. reads, “the consensus is that in light of the online activity, we cannot continue with the offer.” Field Day tried to mitigate the cancellation by saying “We have not taken the decision lightly, but we must consider the wide risks to the festival and it's stakeholders.”
What did M.I.A. do? She went on a podcast with Candace Owens of the Daily Wire. M.I.A. discussed her Sri Lankan background as one of the Tamil minority in that country, the human rights abuses and war crimes faced by that group as the civil war came to an end in 2009 when more than 40,000 Tamils were intentionally killed on a beach.
When she began to speak out about that, she told Owens, no one wanted to hear about it. Her record label wanted her to talk about driving a Bentley and eating truffle fries, while she wanted to talk about her homeland and what was going on there.
“They wanted me to be like, ‘I came from a mud heart like me now, you know, I'm driving a Bentley, and I'm so happy I'm liberated.' And that that was the narrative Hollywood wanted me to say” she told Owens. “But money didn't mean sh*t, you know, when 150,000 people are getting bombed, and you can't speak about it. And if you have to compromise that to achieve this status, it just wasn't worth it, you know, in a larger scale, not just talking about myself and my experience, but on a larger scale this level of censorship or gaslighting, I would say.
“It induces mental illness in people which I think is why it's been going up in society because it's so, it's so difficult because on the one hand, 99 percent of the people would have shut up and took the the Bentley route, you know, and become the billionaire. And would have found it quite easy to make that compromise, you know, but for me, obviously, I have a very political dad and my family come from that, you know. So it was just not — it was just not an option not to talk about it, because it's ingrained in the DNA of my music,” she said on the November broadcast.
“So if you had simply forgotten who you were,” Owens said, “you could have become someone else.”
Owens brought up the fact that, as soon as she proposed the interview to M.I.A. on Twitter, M.I.A. started getting blowback for that.
“So you caught a little heat when I tweeted you and said, ‘Hey, I'd love to have a conversation,'” Owens said.
“Yes, I think debate and conversations, you know, are threatened species and that we have to expand the idea, you know, and the need for debate and conversations, even if people disagree or agree, you know. And I'm here to have a conversation with you,” M.I.A. said. “You know, there might be things we agree on and things we don't agree on, but that doesn't mean that I have to completely shut you out of my life, you know, or you completely deny my voice, and I think that's what it's about, like this should be an inspiring thing for people.”
Open discourse and debate was not inspiring for either Field Day or their benefactor AEG Presents, which removed M.I.A. from the festival line-up. AEG touts itself as “one of the world’s leading companies in live entertainment, promoting memorable sell-out UK tours for the world’s biggest artists including Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, Nick Cave, Rammstein, The Rolling Stones & many more, as well as finding emerging and growing new talent.”
MIA posted the message from Field Day, quoting them, saying “‘In light of her online activity' like what accidentally launching a missile on an innocent village, or me scamming a billions of dollars from people or running a sex scandal? No it was your lil tweet. How Naughty.”
“Festival stakeholders want musicians to be boring Puppets,” she wrote.
“I would like to be clear, on behalf of everyone involved on our side,” the message from Field Day goes on, “there is no judgment here.”
Winston Marshall, who was notoriously canceled for literally liking a book by investigative journalist Andy Ngo, said “MIA cancelled from Field Day music festival for having the wrong opinions. Cancel culture in music industry alive and well.”
“The Uk has a brown PM. A brown person wrote that email to a brown artist because I went on black conservative show, pointing out all poor people should be unified: Make this make sense,” M.I.A. wrote.
A Brooklyn-based filmmaker essentially said that it was righteous that Field Day terminated M.I.A.'s gig, saying “Once you start sympathizing with conservatives, antivaxers, and Bible Belt Christians talking about Jesis as the one and only way, truth and light… your sympathy card is straight up revoked Maya.”
M.I.A. had posted “Alex jones lying and Pfizer lying both trending . One with penalty other without. If you have no critical thinking faculty, this is about as crazy as we should get before a nuclear war wipe out the human race” after the verdict against Alex Jones dropped in October.
She also tweeted: “If Alex Jones pays for lying shouldn't every celebrity pushing vaccines pay too?”
In response to the filmmaker, M.I.A. said “I don't need your sympathy. I'm not a victim. I'm an Artist Thanks.”