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Pussy Riot as the Messenger

I have always thought there was something uneasy, or something not quite right about Pussy Riot and the western media reaction to it. It was not just the desecration of the Orthodox Church Cathedral. I could not placed my finger on it until I read this assessment by Vadim Nikitin :
How many fans of Pussy Riot’s zany “punk prayer” in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova’s erudite and moving closing statement were equally thrilled by her participation, naked and heavily pregnant, in a public orgy at a Moscow museum in 2008? That performance, by the radical art group Voina (Russian for “war”), was meant to illustrate how Russians were abused by their government. Voina had previously set fire to a police car and drew obscene images on a St. Petersburg drawbridge.

Stunts like that would get you arrested just about anywhere, not just in authoritarian Russia. But Pussy Riot and its comrades at Voina come as a full package: You can’t have the fun, pro-democracy, anti-Putin feminism without the incendiary anarchism, extreme sexual provocations, deliberate obscenity and hard-left politics.

Unless you are comfortable with all that (and I strongly suspect 99 percent of Pussy Riot’s fans in the mainstream media are not), then standing behind Pussy Riot only now, when it is obviously blameless and the government clearly guilty, is pure opportunism. And just like in the bad old days, such knee-jerk yet selective support for Russian dissidents — without fully engaging with their ideas — is not only hypocritical but also does a great disservice to their cause.
If Nikitin is correct, the Pussy Riot saga once again highlights that the message cannot be dislodged from the messenger. It is simply not good enough to take in the message we get from the media, we must seek to understand the messenger behind the message. For the message is always an embodiment of those that carry it. Sadly, in the age of Twitter and Facebook there's little time to ponder and think through what we are receiving. We are swayed by what Madonna, Bjork and Daily Mail tell us we must believe. Ironically, more information is not leading to greater reliance on reason, but a suspension on it. We look to "authorities" to tell us what to make of Pussy Riot and not ourselves. We have no time to process all the messages, let alone focus on the messenger.

Comments

  1. I agree 100% Pussy Riot has almost been praised by the British media and Russia's government and their response to the grossly inappropriate actions of Pussy Riot demonised. Russia is not always right, but it is their right to punish disrespectful and disgusting behaviour.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, the power of celebrities now in setting the agenda basically means that newspapers are less keen to scrutinise things properly. It appears to be that everything that these celebrities endorse must be morally above reproach.

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