The moment political causes officially reach critical mass is the same moment a banner espousing that cause is draped over a VW bus -- like the one we saw parked on Sunset Boulevard recently, demanding the Russian government "FREE PUSSY RIOT."
To review: three members of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot were convicted earlier this month of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred." (Two others successfully fled the country this weekend, according to the group's Twitter account.) Their sentence, two years in a prison camp, has made members of the band both musical martyrs and Western celebrities. The idea of censorship just doesn't sit well with folks like Madonna, Björk, and Paul McCartney, all of whom have expressed their support. There's even a benefit at the Smell tonight to raise money for the women, their families and legal fees.
With musicians rallying to their defense and shows dedicated in their honor, it might be a good time to examine exactly what Pussy Riot is. Contrary to what some headlines may lead you to believe, they are less a musical ensemble being censored for their work than provocateurs who have styled themselves as punk to bring attention to a political cause. (That may be one reason that more Russians hold hostile or negative views about Pussy Riot than don't -- 51% vs 20%, according to recent polling by the Levada Center.)More »