Those of you that have read my blog know that my main topics of discussion always relate to succeeding with your band. (or music) I write about the practical end of becoming a rock star and getting your music out into the world, or, failing that, the mechanics of making the music or firing your drunken bass player. I have never addressed a deeper, underlying question, why is music so damn important? This, in many ways, has been my motivation to be involved in music and to spend my life listening to or producing music. Today’s blog will address that core idea and, because they have earned everyone’s support, discuss how Pussy Riot are important.
Those of you that haven’t now heard of the Pussy Riot trial, yes there may be a few of you living inside an asteroid, orbiting Neptune, with only old MTV to watch on your steam powered wrist watch communicator, Pussy Riot are a Moscow based band. They sound like the Ramones but with Russian lyrics. They love to do outrageous things like fuck in public or, in the story that is taking the world by storm, jump up on the alter of the Orthodox church and shoot a video of them miming one of their songs. The song in question calls the President of Russia a tyrant. I have to assume that is what the lyrics say since I speak Russian a little bit better than I speak Elvish. They uploaded the video and the shit hit the fan. They were arrested and have spent months in jail while the Russian government and Church fume over the fact that this band pointed out the tyrannical rule of the psycho Vladimir Putin. I am guessing that they picked the Orthodox Church since the Church, historically, has gleefully helped the Russian Rulers oppress and bleed the Russian Population.
The band has now been tried, convicted and sentenced to two years in jail for Hooliganism. For this act of oppression I hope, quite earnestly, that the feral dogs of Moscow get to feast on Vladimir Putin’s entrails. I hope that they get fed this megalomaniac’s liver real soon. I have stated in another blog that this act of protest by Pussy Riot was a PR stunt. This is certainly true. The band does things like copulate publicly or stage a video on the altar of a church to get in the press, to get people’s attention, to succeed at Rock. There is nothing wrong with the young ladies in question being whores for attention. I expect it of them and their fans certainly love it anytime they do something outrageous. This is punk. Punk, and I can humbly state that I am an expert on the purpose behind Punk, is an art form that at its heart is social protest. Of course the band pulls stunts to become famous, they are doing what any good rock band does to get their music listened to. The important point here is that their message, and yes they have an intelligent, adult message, is that they are living in a country that isn’t free. They are voicing the dissent of the young people of Russia. They have guts to do it and they deserve our support for having the courage to stand up and speak out. They knew that they would get stomped on if they spoke out and that is exactly why they did it.
Music has often been used to voice dissent. Musicians are usually outcasts from everyday society and often see themselves as outsiders looking in on Mainstream life. They are, if they are any good, on the cutting edge of change. They speak out using their art. They are uniquely qualified to do so. They are compelled to do so. This is the core reason why music is so damn important. This is why Punk is the most important trend in the late twentieth century. (along with Rap)
The members of Pussy Riot could have chosen to play any style of modern music. They could have taken dance lessons and tried to be the Russian Britney Spears. They chose to play Punk and Punk is, at its heart, social protest music. They believe, as many young people in Russia believe, that they are living in an oppressive political system. They’re right. Hell, Vladimir Putin was the former head of the Soviet secret police.
The band’s uniform, short dresses, punk boots and ski masks is pure genius. The coming battle over rights will center in many ways around the fact that the world’s power elite are rolling out a complete surveillance system to oppresses us all. In the years ahead masks are going to become an important part of standing up to oppression. The governments of the world are working very hard to identify, tag and track us all. We, on the other hand, have a right to be anonymous if we choose. The members of Pussy Riot have made this an issue to fight over. We should all thank them for that courageous act.
The band has been convicted of Hooliganism. The power structure of Russia are treating the band as if what they have done is the equivalent of a drunken soccer fan setting a car on fire. This is an artful lie. The band are destructive but they are out to destroy a system that is oppressing and controlling the culture they live in. That is fundamentally different than random mindless destruction.
So please understand the message of this blog. Music has been and can be a powerful vehicle for dissent. It is an idiom that crosses boundaries of language and culture. It has a long history of putting pressure on the world to change for the better. When it moves in that direction I believe that we should all support its purpose.
And finally I will send a message to the scum at the top of the Russian Government. When the band Pussy Riot called attention to your tyranny you had a choice. You would have served your own interests better by ignoring them. You took the bait and decided to make an example of the band. That was a big mistake since the band knew that you would be forcing the youth of Russia to choose sides. Now you have a tiger in a sack.
I know that my blog is read by many people in Russia. To those readers I say -stay the course and support this band. They know what they are doing and they are acting as leaders and heroes for all of the youth of Russia……………
©Brad Morrison/Billiken Media 2012