Let me introduce you to Banksy, hooded British street artist turned red-haute art star. The museum crowd lauds him; the Tate Modern hearts him. Art collectors around the world shell out the big bucks for his indoor work, but his graffiti (outdoor murals), recently set the Olympic Committee’s and British Transportation Police’s teeth to grinding.
According to British law, it’s a punishable offense to use the Olympic rings if you are not a sponsor. The Olympic committee aggressively protects their brand. For months they’ve harassed British small business owners and artists. The Olympic Cafe is now the Lympic Cafe. For a time, only McDonald’s (major sponsor) was permitted to serve fries in the Olympic village. Using the words, “summer”, “gold”, “silver” or “bronze” in your advertising will court cease-and-desist letters or $30,000 fines from the street roaming brand police. The Olympic committee even hand slapped Kate Middleton’s sister for “copyright infringing” website content. (No time to touch on the story of the sanctioned knitters or the store owner threatened suit for configuring hula hoops like Olympic rings.) Now they want to white wash Banksy.
This mural sports no Olympic symbols. Instead, on-site structures like the decrepit chain-link fence and the molding mattress add clever satire to the story of the unnamed-games pole vaulter.
Its location is secret.
Does this image honor athletes from small underfunded countries who don’t have the resources to compete with wealthy nations? With similar talent but no funding, they have little chance to metal (81 countries attending the Summer Olympics have never metalled). Or is it a dig at the Olympic committee itself? Way to high and mighty, headed for a rotten-mattress face plant. Scoring the lowest mark in court of public opinion.
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