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M.I.A.’s “Bad Girls” video mixes desert stunts with stab at Saudi women driving ban


Putting a rapper in a hot car for a music video was cliche 20 years ago; Kayne West and Jay-Z had to destroy a Maybach in "Otis" just to get noticed. Leave it to M.I.A. to put something fresh together, with a video for "Bad Girls" that remixes macho Arab stunt driving with support for women fighting for the right to drive in Saudi Arabia.

Spend enough time on YouTube and you'll find a reservoir of vids showing Arab men in sedans doing dumb stunts in the desert -- from drifting through traffic to changing a tire while a truck's tilted on two wheels. Between the wide-open roads, cheap gas and demographics tilted toward young men, it's no wonder Qatar and Saudi Arabia lead the world in traffic deaths per capita.

Meanwhile, women in Saudi Arabia have been waging a campaign for the right to drive themselves, which has been blocked for decades due to religious rules that no other country follows. Months of protest have produced a backlash, with one cleric saying allowing women to drive would be "the end of virginity." Manal al-Sharif, the American-educated woman who started the drive last year, was reported by Saudi authorities last month to have been killed in a traffic accident. In fact, al-Sharif was not involved in the accident, and later told reporters the false reports were meant to discredit the movement.

Just something to think about while M.I.A. sways to the beat, with men and women around her enjoying the drive. Once you get moving, it's hard to stop.

(Hat tip to @gaywheels)