Posted on 1 Comment

Will Video Kill “The Man” from Afar? The Pussy Grabs Back

 

The last video in this series comes from the group Pussy Riot.  This video is an example of successful utilization of the power available in the new internet/digital age.  From a musical standpoint they have been described as, “…[N]othing special. They sound like a bunch of teenagers in a garage, blurting out their feelings with reckless abandon” (Lee, D.).  Yet in 2011, the less than 2-minute video for “Punk Prayer” would gain the group and their message worldwide attention.  Unlike the preceding videos, the “Punk Prayer” was not professionally shot for commercial success.  It was a result of opportunity mixed with luck.

 

This video was a filmed protest shot in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior.   The scene was picked due to the belief that the church clergy offer direct support to government corruption.  The lyrics of the song are heavily centered around government and church corruption.  The video relies heavily on symbolism.

In the beginning, the video introduces four women with masked faces dressed in flashy garbs satirically perform bowing gestures commonly associated with prayer.  This is an obvious use of satire and symbolism.  The woman’s head being covered is customary in many religions. Yet their style of dress, modest by western cultural standards, is loud and provocative to those with a conservative Russian Orthodox ideology.

The women are quickly confronted by church security officials.  This results in a hastily transition from their simulated prayer to blatant rebellion.  The women jump, dance and kick provocatively (again by Orthodox standards) as they shout out lyrics critical of Vladimir Putin and the church.  The beautiful décor of the church, the band’s defiance and the clergy and security personnel’s reaction becomes an overload of chaos.  Though short in nature, it succeeds in highlighting the dominance of the powerful and the rich over the everyday woman in the Russian culture.

In the aftermath, three members of “Pussy Riot” would face trial for “hooliganism.”  The televised trial would be widely criticized throughout the world as an indictment of the Russian legal system.  Author Sophia Mayer stated the impact of the trial and the aftermath as, “Heard around the world…sharp shock…that have highlighted and made evident the repressive force of the Kremlin…Pussy Riot has grown from a minor nuisance to a global cause” (Mayer, S.).   All three members were convicted with two receiving two-year prison sentences.

As the 2014 Winter Olympics (held in Russia) were approaching, pressure from other world leaders mounted on Russian President Vladimir Putin.  The outside influence seemed to work as the members would be released from prison.  On the release, Putin biographer Masha Gessen offered this insight, “Putin seemed to realize that the bad publicity was really going to cost him. Various world leaders said they wouldn’t attend…For Putin, that looks like a disaster, because he won’t have anyone to take pictures with” (Bethune, B.).   Perhaps Pussy Riot had not changed Russia nor the world, but they did shake up the Russian culture, started a discussion and highlight the desire for political and religious reform.

Throughout humankind, music has played a significant part of human culture.  As culture and technology continue to evolve so shall the music.  Artists will continue their attempt to make an impact on society and the world.  Music may not take a leader such as Vladimir Putin down.  However, music has brought attention and just criticism to embarrass “The Man” from afar.

If you appreciate this work and wish to make a contribution.

What you say, bro/sister? For a price of a cup of coffee–sh*t, you see the price of coffee lately? If you don’t have Paypal, no worries, pal. You can also use debit/credit cards. Chuck a buck!

$1.00

 

Works Cited

Bethune, Brian. “The Interview.” Maclean’s Jan 28.2014.

 

 

 

 

 

1 thought on “Will Video Kill “The Man” from Afar? The Pussy Grabs Back

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.