Pussy Riot no more than hooligans

Somebody needs to tell the members of Russian femme-punk band Pussy Riot to quit while they’re ahead. Otherwise, we should just force them to watch the last few seasons of “American Idol.” After initial arrests and rise to fame in 2012, the punk rock collective has tapered off into a tailspin of drama, meaningless antics and irrelevance.

When the Winter Olympics gave Russia an international spotlight, the hooligans used the spotlight as a platform from which they once again attempted to promote themselves. Instead of a triumphant return to international attention, Pussy Riot provided a feeble attempt to raise awareness for any issues other than its own existence.

Fast-forward two weeks, and here we are with some viral videos of the group being attacked in the streets and reports of detainment for alleged theft. On top of that, the Olympic antics came on the heel of band drama as two members were kicked out.

 

 

Petty theft charges and fights aren’t necessarily groundbreaking. For that reason, Pussy Riot’s in the same class as Justin Bieber — not The Sex Pistols. Pussy Riot’s attempts were rather weak, especially given the context of human rights abuse awareness at the Olympic games.

Under Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia failed to build a functional Olympic village, received major attention for homophobic attitudes, failed to organize a successful opening ceremony and presented one of the most overall disappointing Olympics in recent history.

The timing was perfect for Pussy Riot to do something really special, but, running with a sports metaphor, it dropped the ball. This is bigger than just dropping the ball this time — this is a sign that Pussy Riot is done for good. It has done all it is going to do, and it needs to step off the international stage.

The mere fact that Pussy Riot still makes headlines is a near miracle for the band. Hardly anything sticks around for more than a few months these days— even Mitt Romney isn’t in as many headlines as Pussy Riot. Even with that kind of staying power, Pussy Riot was unable to strike while the iron was hot. It needed one big stunt and it couldn’t deliver on it. The members’ credentials as activists and revolutionaries will quickly fade away into the Russian sunset.

When I think about Pussy Riot, my mind keeps going back to another punk band that made more than a few headlines back in their day. Except unlike Pussy Riot, its antics were neither feeble nor petty. A band by the name of the Sex Pistols followed the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Boat procession down the river Thames with a boat of its own — until its members got arrested.

The Sex Pistols and Pussy Riot have a lot in common. For both bands, music came second to destructive antics. But whereas Pussy Riot shot a video in the streets of Sochi, the Sex Pistols drunkenly cursed out the host of the most popular late night television show of the time.

Almost two years ago, when Pussy Riot first became a force to be reckoned with, celebrity endorsements came pouring in as the entire world cast a disapproving eye to Putin’s administration. Pussy Riot’s members were saviors to punk idealists everywhere. Now they are little more than the hooligans they were originally convicted of being.

Reach the columnist at jpbohann@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @JordanBohannon