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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

PUSSY RIOT ON TRIAL

     pussy riot goes to church


I can't get those girls of Pussy Riot off my mind. When I see the young protesting in easy-target ways against militarist governments, I recall the protests of the Sixties, which were not treated nicely by law enforcement. The three women seem shocked that they were arrested. In the courtroom they seem like they can't get it out of their minds it's a joke. Arrest anywhere isn't funny. In Russia I imagine it's as unfunny as it is here. It's looking like Putin is wiping the smiles off their faces. The shame of it was that the girls were funny and cleverly outrageous. They are the people government is out of touch with, the non-rich and the non-celebrity. They were performing spontaneous street theater in Moscow. That's all they were doing. They were too naive to know what they were up against. It tells me that the girls are braver than they look. In the Sixties and Seventies European activist women had a serious demeanor about them like they majored in German Philosophy. The girls of Pussy Riot are of the new generation of punk protest. I wonder if they know how outrageous punk style is to the complacent majority. I've an idea that's the point. This trial is where they find out.


I saw that Nina Hagen made an appeal in their defense. That could make it worse. Nina Hagen has been involved in animal rights protests for some time. She had a song in the 80s, Don't Klll The Animals. Don't kill the animals, the animals are free, frE-E-E. Her video of the song was of Nina and Lina Lovitch breaking into a place where dogs were kept for lab research and setting them free in the night. Pussy Riot has a strong Nina Hagen influence in their sound and their Euro-punk attitude. They are like the next thing after Nina, herself. One aspect of punk I suspect about everybody outside punk circles doesn't get is the sense that punk has an art aesthetic pop music is lacking. It's expressed in what looks like chaos, though it's an artistic mirror image of the chaos our governments put us through. The women of Pussy Riot were protesting the complicity of church and state in keeping women down. They knew it was serious when they went into it. My guess would be that no matter how naive it seems from half way around the world, to stand up in Putin's face so blatantly like they did took some courage. They know better than I do the danger. To me, it looks considerable. If they didn't assess the danger quotient before they went into it, they certainly have by now after 5 months in prison.


I went to YouTube and looked up some of their performances. I find them immensely clever and applaud their performances. It is like Nina Hagen offspring kicking and punching the air. They use smoke devices like flares. They make a lot of noise with a clever show until they're scattered by the police. In this country the danger would be arrest and charged with conspiracy, a charge that cannot be got out of, and put away. Remember what happened to the Dixie Chicks. At a show in London they remarked that they were ashamed to be from the same state WBush was from, Texas. Bush administration shut them down. Kept their music off the air, but their concerts sold out and their cd sales were way up. In the Johnson administration, Lady Bird was having a dinner for important women when Eartha Kitt rose from her seat and made herself unwelcome by making a speech about the Vietnam war and the administration's disregard for the American people. That didn't set too well with LBJ. Eartha Kitt never appeared again on stage or film until one of the Ernest movies about Halloween a lot of years later, where she played a witch. Dylan did it right by declining his invitation to Nixon whitehouse dinner.


I googled some info on the Monday trial. It's looking bad from witnesses, people who were in the church. One old woman who sold candles inside the church was outraged beyond what her mind could handle. The women of Pussy Riot are being told to get baptized, join the church. They have drawn attention around the world to the feminist cause in Russia. Evidently, it is dire. The women doing the protesting are serious enough about it to set themselves up for arrest. Another feminist group in Moscow I found in YouTube called Femme goes about taking off their shirts and flaunting themselves topless with statements written on their skin in black ink. It tells me Russia has some feisty women. It also tells me in Russia the government resistance to feminism is more stubborn than it is here. If Putin characterizes the macho man ethic in Russia, it's a bit stronger than it is in this country. I'd guess the macho man ethic in Russia to be something about like it is in Mexico. Macho man acts like a big dog. His expression of manhood is domination of women. I know nothing about Muscovite culture, very little about punk culture, very little about women and nothing but news quips about Putin that may or may not have connection with Putin himself. He is a martial artist. I understand the Russian style of martial arts is particularly deadly. KGB. I wouldn't go up against him.


Xtreme politics. Putin knows that he can kill them, one at a time with a single touch that's placed just right. But he won't do that. He won't need to. The outcome of this trial has the potential to be very interesting. I can't fathom all the ways, but see a few. The church will decide to go with tolerance or intolerance. The latter is the tradition, but this decision is up for the world to witness with a cold eye. Putin has a decision to make for his political self-image, tolerant or intolerant. Intolerant, again, is the tradition. Russia does not mind telling the rest of the world to mind your own business. My heart is with the women on trial. I know they were having fun making absurd punk street theater with a protest edge. They're being tried for an idea of what they did, not what they did. I don't see that Sting or any American rock star appealing for their release is going to do anything but bring attention to themselves. My inclination is to pray for them in their hour of need. They're good people. They don't belong in prison. They need an award for the world's most clever protest. They were so good they were locked up. Congratulations, ladies.


     pussy riot, from the moscow times




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