Tuesday, October 12, 2010

One mans street art is another mans waste of a perfectly good wall

One of the most bounced around stories at the moment is the news that Banksy, scourge of wall cleaners everywhere, has directed a new title sequence for the Simpsons which will be shown on UK television shortly.

Not just a new title sequence, but a title sequence so controversial and subversive that it "led to delays, disputes over broadcast standards and a threatened walkout by the animation department".  For which read "we thought if we made a big deal about it, it'd get talked about and bludgeon together some interest for a series which, frankly, isn't half as good as it used to be".

If you haven't seen it yet, watch it.  It'll cause you to question your very values and will challenge the ideals you hold dear

Watched it?  Good.  Experienced any of the above other than a vague sense of boredom?  Same here.  "Ooh, but it's confronting head-on the accusations that The Simpsons is outsourced to asian animators working in appalling conditions, and satirising itself in so far as The Simpsons is nothing but an exploitative money making machine", you cry.

Well done, Banksy.  We knew that - It's made by Fox, for fucks sake.  It's unlikely Murdoch will be offended by the intro - Let's face it, if he was then it would never be shown.  The chances are it's more than likely he'll take some tips from it and use it in Corporate training.  "This is how it should be done, Gentlemen".  Is Banksy fighting the system from within?  Ah well, there's nothing like safe well funded subversism.

If you hadn't picked up on the subtleties in my words, I'll make it crystal clear.  I really can't stand Banksy - and as it's my bloody blog, I'll bang on about it all I like.  I know Art is subjective - the astonishing popularity of the guy is testament to that - but I just don't get it.

To me it's all style and no substance.  Nothing he has ever done has ever hit a nerve or raised a genuine emotion other than bewilderment at his success.  Much like the work of Damian Hurst, it all just feels slightly smug and empty.  Art for the MTV generation who don't care what it says - or if it says anything at all - as long as it looks pretty.

Rumours abound as to the real identity of Banksy.  For all I care he could end up being revealed as a genetic splice between Lord Lucan and Shergar and I still couldn't summon up any interest.  Other than how his creators conquered the basic horse/human genetic imbalance issue.


  1. But...but...he made Mickey Mouse hold hands with the burning kid from Vietnam and Ronald McDonald. Don't you SEE the genius he is? He's subverting ALL OF SOCIETY man, he's the mirror that reflects the world for the twisted place that it is.

    Or he's a jumped up pretentious little tagger that thinks that incongruous juxtaposition = political statements.

  2. In the interest of balance, and because it's so well put, here's an email I got from my friend James on the subject. I hope he doesn't mind me reprinting it here.

    Hello there.

    I feel moved to respond to your blog post about Banksy! A conversation along these lines in the pub will probably devolve into an alcohol-fuelled rant on my part, so this seems like the best way of doing it.

    First, I like Banksy's stuff. I find it amusing, and I think it's well-executed, so it meets my personal expectations of art. His political points strike a chord with me, too, which helps immeasurably.

    Now, about the Simpsons opener itself. I enjoyed it! I could have lived without Banksy's name scrawled on various Springfield buildings. I mean, why? But, apart from that, I thought it was a funny, knowing satire. It made fun of the venerable institution which the Simpsons has become. And, by extension, Fox. Damn it, people need to laugh at Fox. If they don't, they might take Fox News seriously.

    I don't think it's supposed to be subversive or revolutionary. It's a joke, not an attack. Murdoch, I'm sure, won't have seen it. He has people who have people who have people to do that for him. And I can't imagine he watches the Simpsons for pleasure.

    No, it's aimed at the Simpsons audience, the people who watch it because it's a satire. And I think the point needs to be made from time to time: the Simpsons is animated by Koreans who are paid less than their American counterparts would be. We are all OK with that, right?

    On your last point, I think Banksy's identity was revealed a few months back. I seem to remember a furore because he'd been to a public school. But I might be mistaken. I genuinely believed that Michael Schumacher was the Stig, after all.



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