Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Official vs. Unofficial Vandalism

So, first thing’s first: I should probably define official and unofficial vandalism before I start my little rant.
Unofficial vandalism is what you normally see on the streets. Murals, pictures and tagging, and they usually have actual meaning behind them.
Official vandalism, on the other hand, is what councils are responsible for. No, I don’t mean council-commissioned paintings on the sides of schools, or near train stations designed to make the area look ‘pretty’, that’s a whole other issue. What I’m talking about is councils demanding that ‘unofficial’ murals be taken down, or simply deciding to paint over them themselves, with no regard over whether the community wants them to stay up.
So, moving swiftly along. Murals have been around since basically forever, and have a long and controversial history. Blah blah blah. We all knew that
Ok, don’t get me wrong, I understand the problems a local council may have if the graffiti contains obscene or derogatory images that the community as a whole find offensive, but isn’t it taking it a bit too far when a council decides to paint over memorial messages, as Bathurst council did?
In 2006, after racing legend Peter Brock died, saddened fans wrote tribute messages on top of Mount Panorama racing circuit. Bathurst council quickly painted over the graffiti. In 2007, before the Bathurst 1000, fans returned and began rewriting their messages. Once again, Bathurst Council vowed to have them painted over, citing safety issues as the official reason. Irritated fans thought the graffiti should be left alone, as a mark of respect to the great racing star. One racing fan stated "The messages should have been sealed and left there forever," Another, Alan Ward, said the graffiti was a much-needed outlet for fans.
Tribute messages are obviously meant as a mark of respect for that person, and by leaving them up there would have illustrated brilliantly what a mark Peter Brock had left on the racing industry, as well as on his fans. There was nothing derogatory or offensive about these messages, so the question is why did the council feel so strongly about this that they got rid of them not once, but twice? Personally, im not buying the whole ‘safety issue’ excuse. Some things should just be left as they are, I think.

There are plenty of other examples as well. Apparently councils have been stifling creativity and censoring our thoughts for a while now. Who knew? Possibly the most famous example is the destruction of Diego Rivera’s Rockefeller Centre mural in 1933 for its inclusion of an image of Lenin. Yeah, that’s kind of a looooong time ago.

In more recent times, a mural entitled “Recession 2009” after that little financial crisis you may have heard about had to be painted over last year, after it caused a bit of a stir with some residents.

Ok, maybe it’s just me, but I figure anything anyone paints, and I mean anything, is gonna offend at least 1 person, yes? But since when did we start catering to the minority when the majority obviously has no problem. How did we become such a ‘me’ society anyways? Look, if you don’t like looking at something, don t look. We’ve all seen the picture up there – it’s not offensive, it’s meant to reflect a hard time that everyone had just gone through, and poke a little fun as well. I guess my point here is this, and I may be wrong, but whatever – if 9 out of 10 people had no problems with the mural, why was it taken down for just that one person?

Political correctness and the fear of offending is getting a little out of control.


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