Pussy Riot Return With Necessary New Single/Video "Police State"

Music News Pussy Riot
Share Tweet Submit Pin
Pussy Riot Return With Necessary New Single/Video "Police State"

“Police State” is Pussy Riot’s first protest since their xxx mixtape last year. The video’s release marks the one-year anniversary of the 2016 presidential election, the D-day that was Donald Trump’s ascension into the White House, and the centennial of the Russian Revolution in 1917, which was (for better or for worse) a powerful example of political revolution and resistance. Chloë Sevigny stars as a baton-twirling policeman—which is sure to garner attention—but the real connection Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova wishes to make in the minds of viewers isn’t clickbait-able or dismissable. It’s urgent.

The video is directed by Matt Creed and contains a range of Pussy Riot-quality images: stacks of TVs depicting small fires and on-the-blink colors, technologically induced chaos. A ballerina dances in the wreckage in front of a trailer while policemen (Sevigny among them) batter children’s toys with a baton as the children look on, frightened. Perhaps the most disturbing shots in “Police State” are of women and children who wear onesies and hockey masks with holes cut out for their eyes. Their heads are strapped to chairs where they’re forced to watch Donald Trump propaganda.

Hope can be found in the symbol of a small campfire that burns in front of the trailer as the children, who, after enduring what should be called abuse and torture, raise their fists in protest. And of course, the pop music itself, which enhances the severity of the lyrics: “Oh my god I’m so happy I could cry / Oh my god I’m so happy I could die.”

In a length statement, Tolokonnikova discussed how events of the Russian Revolution are relevant models for modern activism: “Soviet dissidents were fighting against one of the most oppressive governments on the planet and shared their own D.I.Y. magazines (samizdat) via secret networks. Labor union leaders and civil rights activists were dying for their beliefs in the U.S. And it actually did make our world a better place.” She adds of the 2016 presidential election, “What was in fact blown up on 8th of November 2016 was the social contract, the paradigm that says that you can live comfortably without getting your hands dirty with politics.”

Pussy Riot  have an uncanny ability to capitalize on commonplace turns-of-phrase, turning them inside out and examining the dismal reality underneath—all of this set to high-tone candor and pop chords. “Straight Outta Vagina,” “Make America Great Again” and “Organs” are necessary works. Based on what Pussy Riot have endured in the past and continue to endure to make noise in places that are controlled and dangerously quiet, “Police State” shouldn’t be taken lightly.

You can watch the whole video for “Police State” in the player below, and read Tolokonnikova’s full statement on the song further down.

Pro-authoritarian trends and autocratic, conservative, right-wing leaders are spreading around the world like a sexually transmitted disease. What can we do?

If we find a way how to act together, be articulate, focused and persuasive, we can shift mountains. Look back: people did it before. Soviet dissidents were fighting against one of the most oppressive governments on the planet and shared their own diy magazines (samizdat) via secret networks. Labor union leaders and civil rights activists were dying for their beliefs in the US. And it actually did make our world a better place.

Think about 120 years ago. There were children working in factories, losing their fingers. People fought back. They fought to create unions. Think about the women’s movement. Think about the civil-rights movement. You’ve got to jump in and start fighting.” – Bernie Sanders reminds us.

When Trump won the presidential election one year ago, people were deeply shocked. What was in fact blown up on 8th of November 2016 was the social contract, the paradigm that says that you can live comfortably without getting your hands dirty with politics.

But we’re more than atoms, separated and frightened by TV and mutual distrust, hidden in the cells of our houses behind screens, venting anger and resentment at ourselves and others. If you have to point at an enemy, our greatest enemy is apathy. We’d be able to achieve fantastic results if we were not trapped by the idea that nothing can be changed.

What we’re lacking is confidence that institutions can actually work better, and that we can make them work better. People don’t believe in the enormous power that they have but for some reason don’t use.

We do fight with the police state in Russia; since we’ve been released from jail we started an independent media outlet Mediazona (zona.media) that covers what’s happening in Russian courtrooms, police stations, prison, labor camps. With lawyers of “Zona Prava” (Zone of Justice) we’re fighting for prisoners – helping them to get medication and better conditions, get out of jail, open criminal cases against guards and cops who break the law and abuse their power.

Actions are more important that opinions and comments. It’s crucial to build alternative institutions, establish alternative power structures and networks, especially when your government sucks. There’s a lot that can be done and should be done. Putin will not disappear tomorrow, but we can show our fellow Russians how corrupted, damaging and ineffective his rule is. If everybody who denounced Trump on social media showed up on the streets and refuse to leave until he’s gone, he’d be out of office in a week. What it takes is just to abandon our learned helplessness.

Recently in Music