“I Can’t Breathe”
Posted by purplemary54 on February 23, 2015
I’m not entirely sure I should be starting the week out on such a dark note. But this song demands attention.
I was going to make this a Freaky Friday post, but I decided to go with my Oscar picks instead. (I went 0 for 2, but I’m not upset. The music that won was good music.) Really, I was just kind of avoiding exposing myself to this video again.
Pussy Riot’s first song in English is a good one. They were in New York around the same time as the Eric Garner protests were happening, and they were inspired by that to write the song. It is an oppressive song about oppression. The electronic music and insistent drum beat give “I Can’t Breathe” a foreboding, ominous feeling–not surprising, given this band’s own experiences with oppression, censorship, and political imprisonment. And I like the way fear and defiance balance each other out; they’re going to stand up for themselves even though they’re terrified about what might happen if they do. That’s highlighted at the end by Richard Hell’s reading of Eric Garner’s final words.
But what makes this song indelible, and to me absolutely horrifying, is the video that features Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina being buried alive. One of my major phobias is the idea of being buried alive. It wigs me out beyond belief, and I found this video almost impossible to watch. I started looking away from the screen as soon as I could see their faces. It is massively disturbing and just as massively effective. If you want to make a statement about the way people are being treated by law enforcement, you can’t do much better than this.
I recommend this song. I suggest watching the video only in a well-lit, well ventilated place. Outdoors works. Outdoors, but only if you’re surrounded by concrete and other stuff that can’t be dug up and piled on top of you.