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Fri Aug 17, 2012, 11:03 AM

The Rude Punidt - Reacharound Friday: In the Words of Pussy Riot

First, off check out what exactly Pussy Riot did ...

(and here's the raw footage used for the music video).

It's pretty fucking hilarious, seeing masked punk rockers dancing like mad inside a Russian Orthodox cathedral as a protest against the reelection of Vladimir Putin. It's got upset nuns trying to stop photographers. It's got confused and delighted and agitated onlookers. "Our Lady," Pussy Riot chanted to the Virgin Mary, "Chase Putin out." And the song rocks with a great, rap-infused rock tune.

Was it obnoxious? Fuck, yeah. Is it deserving of two years of prison time for the band members who were caught? Because that's the sentence they were just given for "hooliganism against the church." The prosecution had been asking for three years, but, perhaps realizing that crushing the band made him look like, well, a pussy, Putin asked for leniency. Look into his eyes. See his soul. He's a mensch.

The members of Pussy Riot know that their trial has done more to energize the free speech and protest movement in Russia, against the power-hungry Putin, in alliance with the church, than their music and performances alone. And the closing statements of the three women in their trial are ass-kicking acts of defiance against a government that seeks to silence dissent.

Yekatarina Semutsevich talked about Putin's manipulation of people by using the church: "Why did Putin feel the need to exploit the Orthodox religion and its aesthetic? After all, he could have employed his own, far more secular tools of powerófor example, the state-controlled corporations, or his menacing police system, or his obedient judicial system. It may be that the harsh, failed policies of Putinís government, the incident with the submarine Kursk, the bombings of civilians in broad daylight, and other unpleasant moments in his political career forced him to ponder the fact that it was high time to resign; that otherwise, the citizens of Russia would help him do this. Apparently, it was then that he felt the need for more persuasive, transcendent guarantees of his long tenure at the pinnacle of power. It was then that it became necessary to make use of the aesthetic of the Orthodox religion, which is historically associated with the heyday of Imperial Russia, where power came not from earthly manifestations such as democratic elections and civil society, but from God Himself."

Maria Alyokhina attacked Russian society, particularly the conformist approach of her schooling: "And right here, in this closing statement, I would like to describe my firsthand experience of running afoul of this system. Our schooling, which is where the personality begins to form in a social context, effectively ignores any particularities of the individual. There is no 'individual approach,' no study of culture, of philosophy, of basic knowledge about civic society. Officially, these subjects do exist, but they are still taught according to the Soviet model. And as a result, we see the marginalization of contemporary art in the public consciousness, a lack of motivation for philosophical thought, and gender stereotyping. The concept of the human being as a citizen gets swept away into a distant corner. Todayís educational institutions teach people, from childhood, to live as automatons. Not to pose the crucial questions consistent with their age. They inculcate cruelty and intolerance of nonconformity. Beginning in childhood, we forget our freedom."

And finally, and perhaps most eloquently, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova took sympathy on the prosecutors: "Despite the fact that we are physically here, we are freer than everyone sitting across from us on the side of the prosecution. We can say anything we want and we say everything we want. The prosecution can only say what they are permitted to by political censorship. They canít say 'punk prayer,' 'Our Lady, Chase Putin Out,' they canít utter a single line of our punk prayer that deals with the political system. Perhaps they think that it would be good to put us in prison because we speak out against Putin and his regime. They donít say so, because they arenít allowed to. Their mouths are sewn shut. Unfortunately, they are only here as dummies. But I hope they realize this and ultimately pursue the path of freedom, truth, and sincerity, because this path is superior to the path of complete stagnation, false modesty, and hypocrisy. Stagnation and the search for truth are always opposites, and in this case, in the course of this trial, we see on the one side people who attempt to know the truth, and on the other side people who are trying to fetter them."

The fact that the words of Pussy Riot could be used, with very few changes, about our own political and social systems and level of civic engagement, that we are no longer a nation that can hear something about oppression from other countries and think, "That's not us," is sad beyond words. The biggest difference? In Russia, there have been protests and riots against the treatment of the band. If it had happened here, we'd just roll over and figure that they deserved what was coming.

(Note: The Rude Pundit will get back to his voter's conscience series next week. And thanks to rude reader Alyson B. for the link to the statements.)


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Reply The Rude Punidt - Reacharound Friday: In the Words of Pussy Riot (Original post)
meegbear Aug 2012 OP
Capt. Obvious Aug 2012 #1

Response to meegbear (Original post)

Fri Aug 17, 2012, 11:10 AM

1. Fuck yeah!

That was an awesome read.

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