pussy riot as donald trump in new music video: still shot

“What Do You Want The World To Look Like?” Pussy Riot Slam Trump in New Music Video

Pussy Riot, the kick-ass, controversial Russian all female pop-punk protest group, have released a new song and video titled “Make America Great Again,” featuring a NSFW, caustic, sharp, no-holds-barred imagining of America under Donald Trump.

No strangers to vocal, in-your-face, highly sexually-charged criticism of political figures, Pussy Riot has gotten into trouble before for open criticism of Donald Trump’s new BFF, Vladimir Putin, leading to their arrest and repression from the Russian political mafia. Nadya Tolokonnikova, in particular, the lead singer and songwriter on this project, was one of the several women jailed on hooliganism charges for protesting at a Moscow church.

In this video, Tolokonnikova intersperses actual clips of Trump speeches and rallies with some horrifying, dystopian Nazi imagery, and intense scenes visually playing out the violence on female bodies that Trump has already promised with his words.

[Content warning: torture, branding]

“When I see Trump, I see my prison boss,” Tolokonnikova says of the video, referencing her 2013 imprisonment. “I see my prison official. I see in his face, in his gestures, in his words, that type of dude who humiliated me throughout my life, and I don’t want this kind of person to be the head of country.” It’s that juxtaposition of personal and state misogynistic violence, enacted through Trump lookalikes in border police uniforms, that comes through powerfully in the video.

The criticisms Pussy Riot lay out about Trump aren’t new but the visceral and visual violence through which they convey it makes it hit home just how sadistic he is. Tolokonnikova herself is a thoughtful author of the criticism, apparent in her interview with Rolling Stone, in which she talks about her own experiences in Putin’s Russia, the absurdity of the current spectrum of political discussion in the U.S., and art as meaningful political dialogue.  “As someone who lived in a country where we had this type of guy as president for 16 years,” Tolokonnikova warns, “I would say that it’s not fun to live in this society. You don’t have free speech, you don’t have respect for yourself as women – we don’t have it.”

What’s particularly great about the video, though, is that Tolokonnikova doesn’t rely on the cheap shorthand dichotomy of “Russia = repressive and bad; America = free and good.” She’s spoken critically before of the lack of freedom even in the non-government controlled U.S. media, her support for Occupy Wall Street and the unequal income distribution in the U.S., and the need for prison reform. The song, too, along with being an admonition of Trump, contains a prescription for a Greater America, with the lyrics, Let other people in/ Listen to your women/ Stop killing black children/ Make America Great Again.

Tolokonnikova’s closing plea to America is profound. “I need to see some inspirational things going on in another country,” she says, “because it could inspire me and other activists to work more and work harder in Russia. Please be our inspiration.”

Header image via.

Palo Alto

Meghna is a law student in California. She's interested in radical leftist politics, intersectional feminism criminal justice, human rights, freedom of the press, the law and feminism, and the politics of South Asia.

Meghna is a law student in California. She's interested in law and gender, race and criminal justice, human rights, cats, and sports.

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