Whether or not you like his art, you can’t deny the fact that Banksy is basically an expert at self-promotion. I mean, I’m pretty sure that I’ve heard more about Banksy in the last few weeks than I’ve heard about Lou Reed in the last 24 hours. And I’ve heard a lot about Lou Reed. For example, did you know he was grumpy and that a lot of people like his music? It’s all true, you guys.
But so, Banksy. Banksy has been making headlines for his art in New York, but the latest bit of news is actually about how much he hates One World Trade Center because it’s ugly and it’s about as interesting as something from Canada. Oh. Harsh, Banksy. Way harsh. But how do we know that this is what Banksy feels about New York’s most prominent recent addition to the skyline? Well, we know because, along with an image of his latest piece, Banksy posted an explanation to his website about why he tagged a Greenpoint wall with the words “This site contains blocked messages.” Basically, Banksy is pissed off at the New York Times (uh, join the club, Banksy) because they declined to reprint an Op-Ed he wrote exactly as written. Ah. Censorship! Or, you know, just an editorial decision. Hard to say. But what exactly was so controversial and unprintable about what Banksy wrote?
Well, let’s break it down. Banksy printed the otherwise unpublished editorial on his site and while we don’t know exactly what the Times objected to (the Times has confirmed that they declined to print it, but won’t say why exactly) we can kind of guess. Banksy, it turns out, hates the-building-that-is-thankfully-not-called-the-Freedom-Tower because he thinks it “is a non-event” and “vanilla” and “looks like something they would build in Canada.” Banksy thinks that One World Trade Center is actually a sign that the terrorists won because of how damn ugly it is and that it “declares the glory days of New York are gone.” Strong words from Banksy, right? Strong, cliché-laden words that are designed to push New Yorkers buttons. Maybe the Times just couldn’t handle the TRUTH?
Uh, no. I don’t think that’s it at all, actually. I mean, tons of people hate One World Trade Center. And they’re entitled to hate it, because it is vanilla and it does seem like we missed an opportunity to do something more than just build another office building. That said, the fact that Banksy wrote—with apparent sincerity—that this type of architecture means “the terrorists won” and then further invoked the good name of Canada as an insult (how original!), is just an indication that Banksy should stick to street art and stay away from editorializing. Because, even though the Times has recently printed a pretty sub-par editorial by Delia Ephron about the color blue, and even though the Times still keeps Tom Friedman on the payroll, it’s gratifying to know that the paper still has some standards and won’t just print any garbage available because the name of the person writing it is pretty well-known. Which, nice work New York Times. And, Banksy? Stick to graffiti, not to critiquing architecture. Thanks.
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