As you’ve no doubt heard by now, New York Times reporter Lynn Hirschberg wrote a rather unflattering article on M.I.A. that pointed out the disconnect between her fiery political persona and her rather comfortable lifestyle as the wife of a nepotism-benefitting billionaire. In the story, Hirschberg, who obviously never bought into M.I.A.'s shtick, goes so far as to use common yellow journalism tactics like getting quotes from knowledgeable sources. (Among those sources: A member of the Sri Lankan Democracy Forum, who characterizes M.I.A.’s championing of the Tamil Tigers separatist group as “very simplistic,” and ex-boyfriend and producer Diplo, who calls her terrorist talk a “gimmick” and says, “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.”)
Naturally, M.I.A. is all kinds of upset: Having spent much of the last few months proclaiming that folks like Jay-Z and Lady Gaga are “sellouts,” whatever that means, it troubled her to see Hirschberg questioning her own keeping-it-realness. (Though, in M.I.A.’s defense, descriptions like this—hilarious though they may be—are pretty cold-blooded: “‘I kind of want to be an outsider,’ she said, eating a truffle-flavored French fry.” Someone go to Zazzle and put that on a T-shirt, please.)
And since she’s the sort of rebel who once declared, “Like P.L.O., I don’t surrender,” and whose mind is never very far from war-torn Sri Lankan concentration camps even as she’s ordering up Givenchy jewelry to her Brentwood mansion for a photo shoot, M.I.A. has resorted to the 2010 version of guerrilla warfare, Tweeting Hirschberg’s personal cell phone number: “CALL ME IF YOU WANNA TALK TO ME ABOUT THE N Y T TRUTH ISSUE, ill b taking calls all day bitches,” she said.
As you'd expect, Hirschberg—who’s been through this sort of backlash before, after writing a similarly unflattering 1992 Vanity Fair piece on Courtney Love—has been getting calls all day long. Speaking to the New York Observer earlier, Hirschberg called M.I.A.’s response “fairly unethical” and “infuriating but not surprising,” adding that most of the calls have been from dudes trying to “hook up” with M.I.A. anyway. M.I.A. has since Tweeted, “NEWS IS AN OPINION! UNEDITED VERSION OF THE INTERVIEW WILL BE ON neetrecordings THIS MEMORIAL WEEKEND!!!,” to which Hirschberg responded, “I have no idea what she’s talking about.”