News Corporation hates on graffiti
Not all of the rubbish reporting on Perthnow is The Sunday Times’ doing. A bunch of the stories are actually regurgitated from other News Corporation owned sources, like Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph. This story, from Thursday, for example:
A GANG of six Australian graffiti vandals left a trail of international destruction before being caught defacing trains in London.
The Sydney gang, known as the AMF Crew, were last night jailed after being linked to more than $140,000 damage in a dozen UK attacks.
I guess this article is pretty innocuous. It follows a tested formula of reportage which goes something like: criminal/s + destruction = arrest + imprisonment. Police beat stuff. Just fill in the gaps:
A [criminal] left a trail of destruction before being caught [red-handed].
The [criminal] was last night jailed after being linked to [attacks].
In Rupert Murdoch’s preferred style, the language is pejorative. In the two short paragraphs above the journalist fits in “gang” (twice), “vandals”, “trail of destruction”, “defacing” and “attacks”. This language is inflammatory and lazy. How can a wall/train be “attacked” by a bloke with a can of paint?
Later, the journalist manages to quote both the British Transport Police and the prosecution. He ignores the judge, who, other stories from better newspapers reveal, actually had some nice (albeit backhanded) things to say about the “gang” of “vandals”:
Each of you are intelligent well-educated young men hard working and capable of holding down jobs. Each of you are talented artists, in terms of graffiti artists…
This is a glaring omission, because it hints at some of the complicated issues behind this story.
A big issue is that the standard targets of graffiti (including AMF Crew’s preferred target, trains) are regularly plastered with the eye-diarrhoea of advertising:
We’ve got no choice but to look at this nefarious bullshit, thousands of times a day.
Compare the crude tag, which is the lowest form of graffiti. Sure, it’s an advertisement on a micro-scale, a boast to the tagger’s mates. But at least it isn’t imploring anyone to part with their hard-earned.
There’s a fine line between art and vandalism. The difficulty with drawing that line is one of the reasons graffiti is so alive as an art-form in a world where every idea is strangled by postmodernism and buried by reams of categorised information.
Good, intelligent graffiti is probably one of the few forms of art that is not in decay. It’s the only form of art that a huge portion of the (city-dwelling) population is ever exposed to. It’s hated by the establishment and practised by the disenfranchised and the youth.
And anyway, anyone who likes art (or money) would love to find their house plastered with a Banksy:
But what the hell, we can’t expect our online tabloid news to delve into the intricacies of this shit. I’m not even sure we should demand that it does. Judging by the comments on the Perthnow story, 4 out of 5 average jerks share the view, implicitly pushed by the story, that graffiti artists are scum and should rot in jail (and in hell?).
There’s no wacky animated gifs to be taken from this story. It’s just bullshit.