Pussy Riot Are Manic Pixie Dream Dissidents

In case you don’t have enough Pussy Riot coverage in your life (or coverage of Pussy Riot coverage), I have added to the over-saturation with my latest for Registan:

In 2005, film critic Nathan Rabin coined the phrase Manic Pixie Dream Girl to describe a woman who “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures”. Pussy Riot are Manic Pixie Dream Dissidents, blank revolutionary slates onto which Westerners are projecting their hipster fantasies.

At a protest rally in New York, celebrities like Chloe Sevigny pretended to be Pussy Riot members (a tribute yet to be paid to Kasparov or Khodorovsky) while fans proclaimed to feel their pain. “Pussy Riot makes me feel like, I can imagine being thrown in jail for doing absolutely nothing,” said one attendee. Well, no, actually, she won’t, but it is not about reality, it is about a Western fantasy of relevance and dissent. “Punk matters”, claim legions of articles on Pussy Riot, with the subtext:  “I matter, too.”  And so around the world, we have Pussy Riot reenactments, Pussy Riot sublimations – protests free from arrest or anxiety, isolated from historical and political context.

Read the full article here.

Update: A slightly edited version of this article was republished in The Atlantic.

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5 Responses to Pussy Riot Are Manic Pixie Dream Dissidents

  1. Sarah, I’m sorry, although I am a big fan of your latest post on academia and anthropology, I can’t say the same thing about this one–your take on Pussy Riot is poorly researched and completely out of touch with the current reality of Russia. I understand that you specialize on Uzbekistan and are fluent in Russian, which absolutely perplexes me-how someone who has a Ph.D. in anthropology from WashU and an extensive research experience in an ex-Soviet republic can write such an uniformed evaluation of the Pussy Riot case.
    The case represents a complicated situation in modern Russian society, which questions the role of women in it (and if you lived in Russia you probably understand what I am talking about), the attitude of the Orthodox church towards common people and, naturally, the omnipresent and omnipotent megalomaniac power of Putin and the surrounding “Kremlin” elites. The colors of the their balaklavas, as well as the punk romanticism and the hipster swagger are the least important factors in the equation. I do realize that you are not a Russian citizen to probably fully grasp those things, but you are an ANTHROPOLOGIST and you are trained professionally to not only be a keen observer, but also an eager participant.

  2. What article did you read? You missed my point. The article I wrote was on the Western media reaction.

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