Ornery 'agitprop pop' singer M.I.A. tweets reporter's home phone number after unflattering New York Times profile

MIAImage Credit: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic.com Call a pop star out on the contradictions in her “message,” and pay the price—via Tweet.

Celebrity profiler/muckraker Lynn Hirschberg (she wrote the infamous 1992 Kurt ‘n’ Courtney profile in Vanity Fair, for one) learned that the hard way today when her recent New York Times cover story on M.I.A. displeased the singer enough to make her post Hirschberg’s personal cell number on her official Twitter.

“917.834.—- CALL ME IF YOU WANNA TALK TO ME ABOUT THE N Y T TRUTH ISSUE, ill b taking calls all day bitches ;)” M.I.A., a.k.a. Maya Arulpragasam tweeted late this morning; the number, of course, is not actually hers but Hirschberg’s (we deleted the last four digits here, in the interest of preserving the writer’s privacy, such as it is at this point.)

In the piece, Hirschberg repeatedly targets the disconnect between the “Paper Planes” singer’s strident rebel persona and the rather luxurious lifestyle she leads in L.A.’s tony Brentwood neighborhood with fiance Ben Bronfman, the scion of the Seagrams dynasty (his grandfather Charles Bronfman’s net worth is estimated at $2.8 billion). And she does call her recent ginger-massacre video for “Born Free” both “exploitative and hollow” and “at best, politically naive.”

But many of the article’s most damning moments actually come via quotes from secondary sources: Ahilan Kadirgamar of Sri Lanka Democracy Forum expressed disappointment that London-born Sri Lankan singer has continually advocated the cause of the violent separatist group Tamil Tigers: “Maya took a very simplistic explanation of the problems between Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese government and the Tamils,” he says. “It’s very unfair when you condemn one side of this conflict. The Tigers were killing people, and the government was killing people. It was a brutal war, and M.I.A. had a role in putting the Tigers on the map. She doesn’t seem to know the complexity of what these groups do.”

And former boyfriend and longtime producer Diplo, who still works with Arulpragasam, didn’t seem overly concerned with future collaborations when he told Hirschberg, “In the end, Maya is postmodern: she can’t really make music or art that well, but she’s better than anyone at putting crazy ideas into motion. She knows how to manipulate, how to withhold, how to get what she wants.” (Also: “She met me, and we started a relationship. Maya was into the whole terrorism gimmick at the time. It was all underground back then. In the beginning, she was trying to be different.”)

Arulparagasam does manage to sneak in a minor smackdown of her own concerning a certain favorite foe—”“I can’t talk about Gaga anymore. All I’ll say is, it’s upsetting when babies say ga-ga now. It used to be innocent. Now, they’re calling her name”—but feels considerably more kindly towards Madonna, whom she says “did amazing songs. She had an amazing sense of style, without a stylist. And she was flawed, and sometimes she admitted it. I’ll fight the fight for Madonna. I think she should send me some chocolates or something to thank me.”

Hirschberg, who is likely not waiting with bated breath for her own Whitman Sampler, told the New York Observer today that she found the cell-phone tweet “infuriating and not surprising.” “It’s a fairly unethical thing to do, but I don’t think it’s surprising,” she continued. “She’s a provocateur, and provocateurs want to be provocative.”

M.I.A., however, may still get the last word. She just tweeted “NEWS IS AN OPINION! UNEDITED VERSION OF THE INTERVIEW WILL BE ON neetrecordings THIS MEMORIAL WEEKEND!!!”

What do you think, readers—was Hirschberg’s piece a takedown, or just her journalistic prerogative? And can M.I.A.’s retaliation-by-tweet be justified?

Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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Comments (45 total) Add your comment
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  • hhdr

    no one is real

    • ian g

      take your 20th century, psycho-babble crap to Perez Hilton, you commie.

  • Ceballos

    Like most people who enjoy dishing it out, MIA doesn’t seem to be able to take it.

    As this article pointed out, the most pointed barbs don’t appear to come from Hirschberg herself. (BTW, I thought Hirschberg’s quote/reaction was perfect.)

    What would MIA have done if Hirschberg HAD directly attacked her in this piece? TP her house? Grow the hell up!

    • Judy Dinch


      • Nate

        Sounds like MIA also reads and comments on EW.com

      • SuperTrooper

        I used to respect MIA quite a bit, however recently she continues to prove herself to be an immature little brat. I wish she could back up her opinions with actions instead of whining and calling out others.

  • Prof

    Well I did like M.I.A., it was fun while it lasted. I was always afraid she was like this, such good music with a horrible personality.

  • Amanda

    M.I.A. consistently comes off as immature and naive, I can’t stand her!

    • Dan

      M.I.A. has always been such a poser. Can’t believe people actually fell for her crap.

  • Nate

    I think Hirschberg’s piece was a takedown, but a valid one. All the contradictions and concerns that she wrote about MIA seemed to be on the mark. Who wouldn’t find it a little hypocritical to be listening to someone like her talk about “rebellion” and being such a “gangsta” such while living in a multi million dollar home in Hollywood and living the good life like she does. Come on.

    • Ceballos

      Good point…

      Even if it IS a takedown, is this really the best way for MIA to respond? (Kinda making Hirschberg’s point that she’s an immature phony?)

  • Molly

    Hirschberg is a known sh*tstirer ala Courteney Love. It was irresponsible of Maya to grant a pseudo rag hag an interview, particularly one that is famed for dragging quotes without substance or context and editorializing.

    Who interviews a bitter ex in a profile, treating what it has to say as the truth anyway. I’m glad people are battering the writer. DESERVED!

    • Monty

      “Hirschberg is a known sh*tstirer ala Courteney Love”

      Yeah…cite Courtney Love as an example of why the author is a bad person. If you put anybody next to her they look like a saint…

  • Mole

    This is why I admire Britney Spears. Britney is just an entertainer and pop star and knows it. She doesn’t try to be political or artistic or different. Yeah it maybe because she isn’t that talented, but she’s smart enough to know that and doesn’t try so hard to be something she is not.

  • Mel B

    What a brat! Is she done with her temper tantrum yet?

  • Monty

    The author should return the favor and tweet MIA’s number

  • MultiPass

    Mia or MIA or whatever she’s called is just a typical narcissistic personality disorder -ie, The Perfect Celebrity. She’s stolen whole chapters from Madonna’s, Gaga’s, Liam Gallagher’s, David Bowie’s, Sinead O’ Connor’s and Sarah Palin’s playbook. She sounds like a Royal C*&T with nothing to say except “Look at me! Listen to me! I am sooooo relevant and like, totally cooler than the entire world!” A firm believer in her own importance. Ugh. If she wasn’t getting this press, she would probably be on a reality show. About herself.

    • Mole

      On a reality show? Why? Despite her personality, she does make some kick ass music. Better then anything Gaga has ever done.

      • tania Rosales

        she doesnt make any of her music, diplo and the tons of other producers and musicians are responsible for her music. She’s just the ultimate reviewer, plus most of her lyrics are gibberish

  • Chaz Winterbottom

    Whatever haters, she’s a rebal. Also Joaquin Phoenix is a real rapper.

    • Kim

      I agree!

    • MultiPass

      LOL. Good one!

  • Stacy

    Ugh so I really did like MIA but come on!!! All that I have heard from her in the past few weeks is how much she hates Lady Gaga!! Which pisses me off because I like to listen to all types of music including Gaga and MIA. She does sound like she is throwing a tantrum, grow up MIA before your fans get sick of your antics!

  • Hilaryy

    You just dont do stuff like that! Thats crossing a line. If MIA cant handle what people say about her, she should get out of the business, not go out of her way to disrupt a journalist’s life and privacy like that. SO disrespectful!

  • chris

    Mia who? and who gives a rats a@# one hit wonders got to love em

  • John Kwambe

    seems none cared about what the NYT reporter did. To counter MIA he quoted from a guy whose uncle was the ex-sri lankan foreign minister. MIA is right about what happened in her native land. Genocide of her people. In recent days NYT always tried to promote sri lankan government. Actually, according to Politico today sri lankan foreign minister & his embassy in washington issued NYT piece to the reporters on promoting the tourism in their country. MIA’s anger is certainly under understandable and justifiable. However I am not sure about giving out the reporter’s number on Twitter. If what the reporter did was the bad publicity, phone number on twitter will be the worse publicity. Now the reporter seems to be pretending as a victim, where MIA should be the one in reality

    • Leonard

      “To counter MIA he quoted from a guy whose uncle was the ex-sri lankan foreign minister.”

      The ‘GUY’ you mention is one of the few impartial voices to come out of sri lanka. his uncle, whom you refer to as an ‘ex-foreign minister’ was Dr. Lakshman Kadirgamar. He is refered to in the past tense not because he retired but because the LTTE – whom MIA glorifies as ‘Tamil rights fighters’ – shot him through the head 7 years ago.

      The problem is, just like MIA and her precious LTTE, Lakshman Kadirgamar was a also Tamil. He was one of the few internationally respected Tamil voices and was the prime mover behind the reconstruction of the destroyed Jaffna Library in the Tamil heartland. Just like with Neelan Thiruchelvam -also a Tamil- The LTTE murdered him for a simple brutal reason: because by speaking out against violence while standing up for Tamil rights people like Kadirgamar and Thiruchelvam were creating an peaceful alternative to address the ethnic divide in Sri Lanka.

      and so, to call Kadirgamar Sri Lanka’s “ex-foreign ministers nephew” and thus a biased voice is in his own words “a very simplistic explanation of the problems between Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese government and the Tamils”

      MIA should stick doing what she does best, which is turning out tolerable good music.

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