Music Features

M.I.A. and MBE: When Rap's Bad Girl Joins the Order of the British Empire

The controversial British rapper rose to fame in the shadows of the Sri Lankan Civil War. Does this accolade go against what she stands for?

This week, Maya Arulpragasam—the British rapper best known as M.I.A.—received her MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) from Prince William.

The MBE is awarded to Brits who have made major contributions to the arts, welfare organizations, and public service; previous recipients include Adele, Jackie Chan, and Ringo Starr. Though it's a coveted accolade, M.I.A. feels like a slightly ironic choice for the award.

The ribbon given to M.I.A. was sewn by her mother, Kala Pragasam, a refugee from Sri Lanka who began working for the Queen in 1986. At the time, jobs like making those ribbons was one of the few positions women who didn't speak English could hold (M.I.A. described it as the "classiest minimum wage job ever").

Despite the familial ties, M.I.A. accepting an MBE seems to conflict with her outspoken stances on world politics. After the end of the Sri Lankan Civil War in 2009, she criticized the BBC for downplaying the number of casualties. Her infamous 2010 video for "Born Free" graphically depicted a genocide of red-haired people, inspired by the real-life extrajudicial killing of Tamil males by the Sri Lankan Army. In 2012, she got into a Twitter argument with TV news personality Anderson Cooper after his blog inaccurately suggested she supported terrorism; the blog was hardly the first instance she was accused of being pro-terrorism, and it certainly wasn't the last. Throughout her career, she's had numerous spats with a number news outlets.

M.I.A. - Born Free

Although the British Empire is now extinct, the Order of the British Empire has been criticized for the connections their name implies. In 1969, as part of his peace protests, John Lennon famously returned his MBE (30 years later, M.I.A. cited Lennon and suggested Obama should've done the same with his Nobel Peace Prize). In the 20th century, the British Empire was responsible for countless deaths due to famine, concentration camps, massacres, and more. Direct ties between that cruelty and the modern day Most Excellent Order of the British Empire are difficult to parse, but arguably, there's still a relation between them.

Even the record label M.I.A. founded, N.E.E.T., pulls its name from an acronym often used to describe impoverished people in Britain—"Not in Education, Employment, or Training"—a symbolic nod to her destitute, refugee roots. Just a month ago, she tweeted what seemed to be her own analysis of how England functions: "I will think only rich pretty people deserve to live...This is England now. F--k u you peasents. [sic]" Doesn't accepting an MBE clash with her opposition to class disparity? Does participating in these antiquated (and arguably arbitrary) traditions strip M.I.A. of her ruthless edge?

inspirational high school football video

We’re going to totally generalize here—and, yes, we realize not everybody fits the stereotype.

But, your reaction to this video will likely show how British, or how American you are.

The video is from 2014, and it’s a TWC News Austin interview with East View High School football player Apollos Hester.

Hester gave a rousing and impassioned speech just minutes after his team, The Patriots, won an unexpected victory against rival team, Vandegrift, by one point.

Not surprisingly, Hester is super psyched and pumped up by the victory—his joy and positivity are brimming over.

The news station call the interview “one of the most inspiring interviews we have ever captured”—and it’s easy to see why.

Now, we’re going to go out on a limb here, and guess that:

If you’re American: you will feel like you can do ANYTHING after watching this!

If you’re British: you will love this kid’s spirit and passion, but will feel vaguely uncomfortable and just a little embarrassed by all the joy and enthusiasm….. because, it's... very not British...and so very American.

Watch the video and see for yourself.

For more entertainment, music and pop culture updates and news, follow Max Page on Twitter

wanksy pothole penis artist

Move over Banksy, there’s a hot new graffiti artist out there—and he’s using his skills to help make roads safer.

Meet Wanksy, a masked crusader who’s highlighting the state of Britain’s roads by painting giant penises around the potholes that plague the nation’s motorists and cyclists.

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Ramsbottom penises wanksy pothole penis artist

The professional artist—who also works in construction—first surfaced last year, leaving his mark on the potholes of Bury and Ramsbottom—near his hometown of Manchester

Wanksy uses a chalk based marker, which fades away within a two week period—but it’s often removed quicker, as horrified officials rush to cover-up the giant penises.

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48-hour fill-in wanksy pothole penis artist

Wanksy’s M.O. has proven pretty effective, with many of the potholes being filled within 48 hours of the penises springing up.

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The road artist explains the motivation behind his unusual choice of canvas and subject matter, on his website:

Potholes are dangerous. Not only do they wreck vehicles, cause accidents they also injure cyclists and are a danger to pedestrians.

I highlight dangerous potholes by turning them into temporary works of art, making them more visible and prompting the council to repair them.

The council are not too happy, but all my work is created using non-permanent, chalk based line marker, the same type the council use when doing repairs.

The problem is that despite each and every vehicle owner in the land paying road tax, fuel tax and council tax, that money does not seem to be being spent on our roads, or at least not effectively.

I understand the council are stretched and may not have time to highlight big potholes with yellow paint, 
but luckily, I do :-)

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Positive reaction wanksy pothole penis artist

He goes on to explain how his work generally provokes a positive reaction from the public, and explains how his road art is helping people.

Do I think my art is offensive? No. I am a qualified artist, the naked body and its anatomy are commonplace in art.

The drawings themselves are cartoons, not photographs. Art should provoke a reaction and these pieces do that, generally a positive one.

Potholes are very hard to see you tend to forget about them until it’s too late.

But draw a big yellow willy round it, you can’t help but notice them and hopefully avoid it too, saving the vehicle from damage or the rider from injury.

Usually the council will either notice it, or it actually gets reported and then gets repaired. 
Happy days.

If there were no potholes I wouldn’t draw on anything...
The road is my canvas.

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Wanksy explained his motivation further, in an interview with the Manchester Evening News—vowing to take his artistic crusade further afield as needs must.

The roads of Manchester are in an appalling state, especially around Bury. I have cyclist friends who have been hospitalized.

They damage vehicles. Sometimes it’s hard to know which pothole caused the damage because there are so many.

When I’ve finished in Ramsbottom, I’ll move on to the rest of Manchester.

I wanted to attract attention to the pothole and make it memorable. Nothing seemed to do this better than a giant comedy phallus.

It’s also speedy, I don’t want to be in the road for a long time. It seems to have become my signature.

I just want to make people smile and draw attention to the problem. It seems to be working, judging from the Facebook fan page.

Not surprisingly however, when it comes to local council members, the smiles are few and far between.

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A spokesperson for Bury council bitched to the Daily Telegraph about the “stupid” and “incredibly insulting”  road artist, during an interview last April.

The actions of this individual are not only stupid but incredibly insulting to local residents.

Has this person, for just one second, considered how families with young children must feel when they are confronted with these obscene symbols as they walk to school?

Not only is this vandalism, but it’s also counter-productive.

Every penny that we have to spend cleaning off this graffiti is a penny less that we have to spend on actually repairing the potholes.

We urge the perpetrator to stop defacing the roads immediately, and ask anyone who sees this sort of criminal damage being carried out to report it to the police and the council.

Yeah, whatever Councillor Buzzkill—how about you guys just do your job in the first fucking place, and repair the roads BEFORE they have to be adorned with giant penises?

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Meanwhile, after taking a brief penis painting sojourn, Wanksy is back in action once again—in pretty spectacular fashion.

Helping rid the road of pothole dangers one glorious graffiti cock at a time.

Check out Wanksy’s Facebook page here and go to his website to learn more about the artist's mission and to see his work

For more entertainment, music and pop culture updates and news, follow Max Page on Twitter

104 year old man tattoo

103-year-old Jack Reynolds is a record breaking dare devil!

He's like the new David Blaine! Or the old David Blaine. Or whatever.

Never too old to ink 104 year old man tattoo

To commemorate turning 104, Jack has decided to get a tattoo, and in so doing, will become the oldest person in the history of the world to submit to the needle.

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It will be such a milestone, in fact, that it'll enter him into the Guinness Book of World Records.

The spry humdinger's first choice was to take his granddaughter's hover board for a hover, but when his family begged him not to, the rebel Reynolds opted for ink.

All for a good cause 104 year old man tattoo

Two years ago, Jack tempted fate (and cardiac arrest) by becoming the oldest person to complete the “Ice Bucket Challenge."

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In the meantime however, Jack has a dilemma. He's worried his arms are too scrawny to properly display the design of the tattoo, but noted the design will be even more difficult to see if it's on his ass.

The solution is obviously to beef up his arms through dumb bell work-outs.

Asked if he's nervous about getting the tattoo done, he replies, “I'm a big strong lad - and I've have plenty of needles in me in my time, in various places."

Young at heart 104 year old man tattoo

Jack's daughter Jayne, who says Guinness World Records have confirmed it would be a new record, describes her dad as very young at heart—and says he spends a good chunk of his time on Facebook.

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She told the Ilkeston Advertiser, “Dad wanted to do something to raise money for charity again and I suggested he have a tattoo which he agreed to. We all think it's great."

He's already raised over $2,200 for the Chesterfield-based Ashgate Hospicecare—a U.K. based charity that provides care to people with any life limiting illness, helping them live for every day.

“I really love using my age to help me with my fundraising and I'd love for people to help me support Ashgate Hospicecare – it's a great charity and very close to my heart," Jack explains.

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“I think the tattoo should be his date of birth, or his nickname – Jacko – on his back," Jayne suggests. “My dad's absolutely amazing and everyone loves him."

Secret to a long life 104 year old man tattoo

When asked for the secret to a long and happy life, Jack says, “Work hard, always smile, get plenty of fresh air and last but not least have a tot of Grouse whisky in your tea in the morning and a tot before bed."

We'll drink to that Jack!

You can sponsor the young whipper snapper here

british reporter truth telling meltdown

This ballsy British reporter gets a little too real for TV when he suffers an epic, truth-telling meltdown!

It all starts off innocently enough—Jonathan Pie simply wants to know why the powers-that-be are insisting that he shoot his news segment in the rain when clearly it’s much easier to shoot it in the studio.

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At which point the voice in his earpiece tells him for once in his life to just do the fucking news, giving us our first clue that perhaps Pie is something of a diva.

But diva aside, Pie breaks into a tour de force of poetic fury and exquisite veracity, tearing through the political cover-ups, unbridled avarice, war mongering, and rampant douchebaggery that plague our planet.

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It’s basically Cliff Notes for what has been happening in the world for the last few years, served up sans the bullshit and with a helpful and heaping dose of profanity.

He lets loose on British Prime Minister, David Cameron, self-made millionaire-turned-TV host, Lord Alan Sugar, nuclear weapons, Matt Damon's shabby portrayal in the press, opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn's unfavorable treatment by the press, Syria, terrorism, refugees, poverty, and even the God damned bloody rain!

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“It's like someone took John Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, and Eric Idle and threw them into a blender to create this delightful cocktail of crazy cable news honesty,” raves Youtube viewer Alex-Zander Browne.

But, just who is this short-fused yet highly articulate Jonathan Pie? Well, actually, he’s a spoof reporter created by British actor and comedian Tom Walker. And his explosive rage seems to be striking a nerve with thousands of viewers.

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“Generally in comedy you laugh at things that you recognize, that’s generally the truth,” Walker tells RT online. “I mean it’s fiction, and I made it to be funny, I made it to be a piece of entertainment.

“But if people recognize something in it and go, ‘actually he’s articulating the way that I feel’ then more the better. Yes, I think you’re right that there is certainly an element of truth there—that is why people have enjoyed it so much.”

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Watch the sublime two minute and forty-seven second rant right here, right now.

You’re welcome.

girl pretended to be a man to trick friend into sex

According to a judge, Gayle Newland is “an intelligent, obsessional, highly manipulative, deceitful, scheming and thoroughly determined young woman,” because she found a way to trick a lady into having sex with her….by pretending she was a man!

The 25-year-old ex private school girl from the UK was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault and  sentenced to eight years in prison, but she is now appealing against her conviction.

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In a story that beggars belief, Newland met her victim over the Internet posing as a man named “Kye Fortune,” after creating a fake Facebook profile.

They first made contact in 2011 and finally decided to meet up in February 2013. Gayle disguised her voice and convinced the plaintiff to wear a blindfold, explaining that “he” was insecure about his looks following brain surgery.

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The gullible victim explained in court; “Every time I met up with Kye Fortune I either had the mask on already or he would wait outside the door and I would put it on."

Are you kidding me?  Who would accept that as a normal kind of behavior?

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girl pretended to be a man to trick friend into sex

 girl pretended to be a man to trick friend into sex

“I was so desperate to be loved. It's pathetic, so desperate for love, so desperate. We were just lying there, just cuddling, sometimes we would watch films, sometimes we would just talk. It sounds stupid to say but it was a proper relationship, just normal.”

Ummmm, how can you watch a film when you're wearing a mask?  Well apparently she just listened to the movies, which again, she thought was normal.  As she did sunbathing outside and going out for a drive in "his" car—all whilst wearing the mask!

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She continued, “Since the first time I wrote to this person on Facebook, I thought it was a male. The first time I agreed to meet this person and agreed to have sex with them, I thought it was a male. I told my friends I was engaged to a guy. I told my work colleagues.”

Engaged?  What was she going to do at the wedding?  Get a little white lace mask to match her dress?

girl pretended to be a man to trick friend into sex

Gayle Newland / Kye Fortune is led away after being sentenced to eight years in prison.

The plaintiff said she attributed her 'boyfriend's' high-pitched voice to his Filipino heritage, and when things turned sexual, she was told 'never' to touch Kye's penis.

Still, Newland was a “highly determined young woman” and she managed to bone down the object of her affection 10 times before said object finally tore off her blindfold and saw a prosthetic penis.

Newland's defense argued that the victim's account was “impossible to believe” (we're with them there) and that a woman of her sexual experience could not have been tricked into thinking she had had sex with a man that many times.

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Newland claimed that her accuser was struggling with her sexuality and that they were merely experimenting. She denied that there was a blindfold, or that she used a woolly hat, swimsuit, and bandages to disguise her gender.

Evidence was found on the fake Facebook account of Kye Fortune of contact with another woman who thought she was striking up a friendship with a man.  They never met up after the woman discovered by chance that Kye was in fact Gayle.

According to a psychiatric report, Newland suffers from a variety of disorders—social anxiety disorder, a personality disorder, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder—but, according to The Guardian, the judge didn’t feel like any of these were valid excuses for wearing a fake penis.

Newland even had a screaming panic attack in court and had to be physically removed from the dock.

But 8 years? For wearing a strap on?

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The same Judge has given lighter sentences to pedophiles!

(In 2010 Judge Dutton gave a teacher who abused 24 boys between the ages of eight and 13 to just six and a half years in jail, according to The Mirror.)  

The trusting victim said that Newland had 'poisoned her life' and taken her “youth and vitality.” “Socially I feel trapped. Still living in this invisible prison Gayle has made.”

girl pretended to be a man to trick friend into sex