Northeast Underground

From Pussy Riot to the Bad Touch: Russia's Music Crackdown

Apparently Russian residents don’t care for bands performing a “Bad Touch” with their country’s flag.

According to Spin, the Pennsylvania rock group the Bloodhound Gang has been banned from performing at the Kubana festival in the southern region of Russia after video surfaced of the band’s bassist, Jared Hasselhoff running a Russian flag through his underpants at a show in Odessa, Ukraine last week.

Though the stunt was preceded with Hasselhoff jokingly telling the crowd, “Don’t tell Putin,” word quickly got out and Russian Minister of Culture, Vladimir Medinsky, took to Twitter to declare that, “these idiots are not going to perform.”

Watch video of the Bloodhound Gang flag incident here:

Despite an apology from Hasselhoff during a press conference where the bassist said in part that, “it was a band tradition for everything thrown from the stage first to be passed through his pants,” activists from a pro-Kremlin youth group were reported to have thrown eggs and tomatoes at the Bloodhound Gang’s tour bus as the group fled to the airport, where the group was also reportedly attacked, to leave the country earlier than scheduled. Russian authorities are also considering the possibility of pressing charges against Hasselhoff for defaming the Russian flag.

*Update: After more video surfaced Monday of Hasselhoff allegedly urinating on the Ukrainian flag during a concert, the UA Anonymous Hacker Organization announced via Twitter that it attacked the Bloodhound Gang's website in response and has effectively shut the site down for the time being.*

Such outrage over the actions of outspoken musicians and acts has become something of a trend of late in the former Soviet Republic. Both Lady Gaga and Madonna are currently being investigated for possible charges relating to entering the country with improper visas and then speaking out on stage for gay rights. And the ongoing troubles of the feminist Russian punk collective Pussy Riot, which started after three members of the group were arrested on charges of hooliganism after a guerilla performance at a Russian church in March of 2012, added another chapter last month when one of the members was denied parole after refusing to “repent” for her actions.

Just what all this news means for the increasingly turbulent state of American/ Russian relations is yet to be determined. Sure, the actions of Hasselhoff and company were sophomoric and meant to draw a reaction, but heavy jail-time seems like an especially stiff penalty for a momentary act of stupidity, though I’m sure the bassist and his band mates would snicker at the mention of anything “stiff” coming their way.

What’s that old quote about jokes made in poor taste?

“Of course my jokes are in poor taste, inappropriate, and confused; they reveal my lack of security. But that is because I have no respect for myself.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky said that. And if there’s anyone who knows about the insecurities of Russian affairs and culture it’s surely him.

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