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September 25, 2014 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-09-25

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4B -- Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4B - Thursday, September 25, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom *


Pussy Riot speaks to programming directors at the Washtenaw County Youth Detention Center.

Nadya and Masha display cards made for them concerning Vladimir Putin.

Pussy R iot's palatable punk mission

Can these Russian
activists make
the genre popular
SeniorArts Editor
I'm the youngest of three chil-
dren, and therefore had the luxury
of hanging out with my siblings'
friends and learning all sorts of
deliciously mature words and hab-
its. Once, when I was 11 or 12, my
sister had some of her high school
friends over, who usually toler-
ated me and my questions about
bongs and thongs and other big-kid
stuff. There was one guy who fas-
cinated me, named Jason. He wore
black Doc Martens, a belt made of
rounds of ammunition, a white cut-
off T-shirt, and was crowned by a
mohawk with spikes like the blades
of a ceiling fan. Being young and
curious and without much deco-
rum, I poked him on the shoulder
and asked, "Are you punk?"
He turned towards me slowly,

and spoke in a tone both pained
and condescending.
"No, I'm a human being."
Thus began my history of not
understanding punk. I'm not
unusual in this - arguments over
the origins and aesthetics of the
genre occur among both academ-
ics and members of the movement.
This is made even more confus-
ing by the diverse, often contrast-
ing sub-genres of punk: hardcore,
street, pop, gutter and many more.
Each one hasits own sound, its own
style, itsown convictions.
So I was nervous, to say the least,
when I walked into the palatial
lobby of the Michigan Theater last
Thursday, where the most recog-
nizable and lauded punk practitio-
ners were making an appearance:
Pussy Riot. Two of the founding
members - Nadya Tolokonnikova
and Masha Alyokhina - would
be giving a Penny Stamps Distin-
guished Speakers lecture about,
their music and activism.
I walked out two hours later,
saying, "That wasn't that bad," as
if leaving a doctor's office after
receiving a round of vaccinations.
My relief didn't come from some

conservative dread at having to
listen to two of the most famous
feminists in the world denounce
patriarchy and homophobia. In
fact, their views, and their impris-
onment because of those views, is
what drew me to them in the first
Rather, it wasaversion of impos-
ter syndrome. Who was I to take up
a seat in the audience and cheer for
these women? And furthermore,
who were any of us to go see them?
I half expected Pussy Riot to come
onstage wearing their signature
balaclavas, and then chastise us all
for taking time to see them when
we could be out protesting or vol-
unteering or fighting the power.
Instead, Pussy Riot's lecture
was... alecture. They came onstage
with warm,almost shysmiles
spoke with both wit and pas
about feminism, Russian politic
conceptual art, Heidegger, Ameri-
can prisons. They thanked all 1,700
of us for listening to them. They
laughed, often. While listening to
these two strong, beautiful women
discuss Plato's concept of techno
and Joseph Kosuth's "Art after Phi-
losophy," I almost forgot the video

screenedbefore they came on stage
- horrifying footage of them being
pepper-sprayed, whipped and oth-
erwise brutalized by the Russian
police and paramilitary Cossacks,
just for holdinga public protest.
The engaging, even fun, lecture
was a far cry from the last punk
event Iwent to. That wassahardcore
show at a friend's house, where the
audience could have fit on a school
bus and the lead singer kicked me
in the solar plexus. In fact, Pussy
Riot's global recognition - a Len-
nonOno Grant for Peace, thousands
of followers on Twitter, speaking
engagements at major American
Universities - seems decidedlyun-
Well, what is punk? As I men-
tioned before, it's a slippery term,
but there are a few defining charac-
teristics. Jesse Prinz, a professor at
CUNY, attemptsto categorize these
fundamentals in his essay "The
Aesthetics of Punk Rock." Accord-
ing to Prinz, the defining pillars
of punk are irreverence, nihilism
and amateurism. By informing the
sound, lyrics, fashion and media of
punk, these traits form the charac-
teristic anti-authoritarian zeitgeist

of the larger genre.
Butthe problemwithpunkisthat
each band's definition of "author-
ity" is different. For example, The
Dead=Kennedys wrote songs that
pilloried the Reagan Administra-
tion and the cultural conservatism
of the '80s. It's hard to ar'gue with
their choice of opponents. But for
every band like the Dead Kennedys,
there's a band whose beef is with
political correctness, like Dwarves
and their album"Thank Heaven for
Little Girls." Because punk is about
subversion, even the most open-
minded observer will inevitably
take issue with what some band
It goes without saying that
becoming a "fan" of any band or
genre is risky. Which is why Pussy
Riotis,in manyways,theidealpunk
band. On the one hand, they're as
punk as you can get. Their slogan-
eering, technically inept music is
so DIY that they don't even record
it - they just play it in impromptu
public performances. They protest
authority and tradition. They went
to fucking jail because of their
music,. They're proof that punk is
likequicksabnd: the harder you fight

it, the stronger it gets.
At the same time, they don't just
fight "The Man." They tackle the
evils of society: sexism, homopho-
bia, censorship, abuse of prisoners.
And they're really earnest in what
they do. After their lecture, Nadya
and Masha went to the Washtenaw
County Youth Deterntion Center to
visit inmates, and a few days later,
were at a massive rally in New
York City to protest climate change.
They are thoughtfully, rather than
During the Q&A section of the
lecture, a balding, middle-aged man
went up to the microphone, only to
launch into an impassioned lecture
of his own. He addressed thesappall-
ing number of youths in Michigan
serving life sentences in prison, and
then urged the audience to vote for
some candidate who had pledged to
address this problem. Many in the
audience booed him, and one girl
next to me whispered "oh my god,
just shut up." Maybe he was just a
disrespectful showboat. Maybe he
was inspired by Pussy Riot. Either
way, the guy pissed off a large audi-
ence by proclaiming his beliefs.
Sounds pretty punk to me.


Charleroi Danses, Belgium
Michele Anne de Mey
and jaco van Dormael, creators
Friday, October10, 8pm
Saturday, October 11,8 pm
Sunday, October 12,2pm
Power Center
"Absorbing, delightful, and
ravishingly beautiful,
(Boston Globe)
It's dance, It's theater, It's film, Kiss & Cry seamlessly
blends artistic disciplines to create a wholly unique
DIY aesthetic that is captivating audiences around
the world, In this performance, hands portray the
main characters, dancing around miniature sets
while a voice-over narrates the story of one woman's
deep love and shattering losses. The performance is
filmed live and projected on cinema screens, creating
a dual reality that Is tender, charming, and entirely
unforgettable. 90 minutes, no Intermission.
Saturday, October 11
5:30-7:30 pm, followed by an 8 pm performance in
the Power Center
Rackham Graduate Building
4th floor (915 E. Washington Street)
Dig-in Ticket Deadline: Monday, 10/6 at noon
Charleroi Danses, a Belgium dance company dedicated
tocontemporary performance, performs Kiss & Cryin the
Power Center on Saturday, October11. A romantic piece that
incorporates elements of theater, dance, and film, Kiss & Cry
unfolds within a miniature set filmed live and projected onto
a large cinema screen. loin us for a pre-show Dig in with UMS
supper of Belgian waffles and chocolates. The activity for
the evening will be to create our own narrative in miniature,
captured on video via Instagram.
Founder of Bert's Cafe and Study Lounge, Bert Askwith is a
103-year-old U-M alumnus who is prouder than ever to be a
Wolverine. Bert feels so strongly that the performing arts are an
essential part of the U-M experience that he is providing every
U-M first- and second-year undergraduate student with a free
ticket to a UMS performance this season. Tickets and order
details at ums.org/students,
UMS.ORG / 734.764.2538



"The Wedding" is an episode
certainly worth the wait. After
six episodes ofcontempla-
tive and
insightful A
(yet frus- Ouarndr
chaste) SatUrdYs
television, at9pm.
"Out- Starz
has finally given viewers what
they've been waiting for: Jamie
and Claire's first romantic
encounter (and a glimpse at
what's under Jamie Fraser's
kilt). Respectful and consensual
sex scenes are arare occur-
rence on cable television, and
sex scenes that are directed
toward female viewers even
more elusive. The steamy
scenes are hardly gratuitous,
and beautifully depict the
intimacy and growing bond
between Claire and Jamie on
their wedding day.
Well, for Claire, her second
wedding day. The episode
opens with a poignant remind-
er of Claire's affections for
her husband back in the 20th
century, and her pre-wedding



activities are troubling. While
Jamie defends Claire's honor
to his scrappy friends, Claire's
bachelorette party involves
getting blackout drunk, alone.
Rightfully, Claire is upset that
she's tossed around like an
object and married off atsome-
one else's convenience. But as
she learns more about Jamie -
his protective nature and hum-
ble confidence, his scars and
smiles, the electric chemistry
they share - Claire falls in love

bit by bit, minute by minute.
Claire's falling for Jamie
was inevitable. But the episode
wasn't afraid to let Claire shed
her hesitance as slowlyas she
wanted, to let her go from
blocking Jamie's kiss to initi-
ating relations herself "The
Wedding" depicts sex, intima-
cy and love from the woman's
perspective, and it's top-notch
television that a viewer of any
gender can appreciate.


Renegade Event
?Post performance
Q&A October 10
Herbert S. and Carol L.
Amster Fund (in memory of
Herb Amster) and the Doris
Duke Charitable Foundation
David and Phyllis Herzig and
the Renegade Ventures Fund,
established by Maxine and
Stuart Frankel
Susan and Richard Gutow
Renegade Ventures
Endowment Fund
WDET 101.9 FM


The opening scene of the
music video for Jennifer
Lopez's new single "Booty
(feat. Iggy
warns the
to prepare JLO&IggJAka
them- Capitol
for "Full Immersion," and,
frankly, the warning is neces-
sary. What follows the cin-
ematic countdown sequence
is a veritable onslaught of
ass, a deluge of derriere only
occasionally interrupted by
shots of the women they're
attached to. And I use that
problematic phrasing because
this video does everything
in its power to subsume J.Lo
and Iggy Azalea's artistic
personae under their status
as sex symbols.

I thought the "booty
wave" characterizing recent
pop releases had reached
its logical conclusion with
Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda"
video, and in a certain sense,
it did. Sure, Nicki heavily
emphasized her rump, but
she did it in a way that was
clever, colorful and, above all,

asserted the uniqueness of
her personality and aesthetic.
J.Lo's "Booty" is simply flat
and lifeless in comparison -
stunned into senselessness
by the barrage of butt, you
stumble away without having
seen anything new or even
particularly exciting.




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