Guest post by Arthur T from Is the BBC Biased?
A comment on Is the BBC Biased? a couple of days ago said:
The BBC are displaying their hero worship of Banksy again today.
Banksy, African migrants and his rescue boat adrift in the Med. It’s a story made in heaven for the BBC metro-liberals.
Just what is it about Banksy that so attracts the BBC above all other artists?
It’s staggering to find out just how much attention the BBC pay to the day-to-day activities of Banksy, when they hardly ever report on the subjects of any other artist’s work – unless of course their work carries a highly politicised message like Banksy. Even then, by comparison it is a drop in the ocean.
Believe it or not, Banksy has his own page on the BBC News website telling us the latest:
Entries here are as follows:
- 29/8/20 Migrants evacuated from overloaded Banksy ship
- 28/8/20 Banksy funds boat to rescue refugees at sea
- 28/7/20 Banksy’s works fetch £2.2 m to aid Bethlehem hospital
- 15/7/20 Cleaners remove Banksy tube art ‘unknowingly’
- 14/7/20 Banksy dons cleaner disguise to spray paint Tube
- 17/6/20 Banksy? Yeah I know who he is ‘Louis Theroux and street artist Banksy had a day out watching Peter Crouch play for QPR.’
- 16/6/20 When Louis Theroux went to a QPR match back in 2001, he met an aspiring street artist called Banksy, and they both saw a ‘lanky, ungainly’ young forward called Peter Crouch play for the home side.
- 10/6/20 Banksy artwork stolen from Bataclan found in Italy
- 9/6/20 Banksy has put his suggestion forward for what should happen in the wake of the toppling of Colston’s statue at Sunday’s protest.
Away from his own BBC News web pages, Banksy also features strongly elsewhere across the BBC – let’s look at Newsround (aimed at youngsters):
24/2/20 Banksy: Who is the famous graffiti artist?
Banksy is a famous – but anonymous – British graffiti artist. He keeps his identity a secret.
Why does no one know who Banksy is? His identity is unknown, despite lots of people trying to guess who he is.
Why is Banksy controversial? His artwork can be rebellious and is known for delivering political messages.
2 Comments ‘Woah!’ and ‘I think Banksy is Awesome!’
In the Arts and Entertainment pages of the BBC News website:
6/5/20 Will Gompertz has a say:
‘New Banksy artwork appears at Southampton hospital’
Here, we have the semblance of an art critic’s opinion from our Will, who as we know at ITBBCB? rates art works firstly on their political message (just so long as it’s the correct message), and secondly and then only occasionally, on their artistic merit. Here are some extracts:
The largely monochrome painting, which is one square metre, was hung in collaboration with the hospital’s managers in a foyer near the emergency department.
It shows a young boy kneeling by a wastepaper basket dressed in dungarees and a T-shirt. He has discarded his Spiderman and Batman model figures in favour of a new favourite action hero – an NHS nurse.
So much for the description. The story moves straight on to the political message:
Paula Head, CEO of the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust said: “Our hospital family has been directly impacted with the tragic loss of much loved and respected members of staff and friends.
The fact that Banksy has chosen us to recognise the outstanding contribution everyone in and with the NHS is making, in unprecedented times, is a huge honour.
She added: “It will be really valued by everyone in the hospital, as people get a moment in their busy lives to pause, reflect and appreciate this piece of art. It will no doubt also be a massive boost to morale for everyone who works and is cared for at our hospital.
As far as it’s possible to tell from the above image, this isn’t spray painted. The denim effect would be almost impossible to recreate other than by a transfer print taken from a photograph. The 2 D basket, which doesn’t show the return banding, has a lack of perspective to match the figure. The basket also looks out of scale in relation to the size of the figure. We shouldn’t expect the BBC arts correspondent to give his view on the technical aspects of a work, should we?
In reply to Charlie’s question, from OT comments,
Banksy, whose real name is Robin Gunningham, is so liked by the BBC because his work carries a political message more than it does an artistic one. He is a political cartoonist – bang on message for the BBC’s narrative. His work is easily reformatted for printed or webpage imagery. It doesn’t require a second look – there are no details worthy of closer study. His air of secrecy and derring-do seal the deal. He would be the go to number one person to invite to the average Islington dinner party hosted by the Metro LibLeft Beeb programme commissioner. To change the old adage slightly – his work is 90% indoctrination, 10% inspiration.
All of the above doesn’t say much for the BBC’s integrity when they promote to youngsters through Newsround that Banksy’s identity is secret – self-evidently a lie. They say ‘His identity is unknown, despite lots of people trying to guess who he is.’ What a falsehood to promote to young viewers!
Perhaps when the time is ripe, there will be a great reveal in a feature length documentary by Louis Theroux. He is probably staking his claim to that high-earning nugget right now. In the meantime, no doubt the mystery is inflating prices for off-the-cuff napkin sketched by Banksy made during his circuit of north London Beeb dinner parties.
Another benefit of this secrecy is the ‘one stage removed’ strategy adopted by the BBC when they want to avoid scrutiny of their output. Independent think tanks, Cardiff University research or ‘a spokesman said’ are all familiar tactics. The extra plus with Banksy is that his work has to be posted, publicised and then authenticated as a ‘genuine Banksy’ giving ample wriggle-room of deniability should the publicity turn nasty.
All in all, the conclusion must be that the BBC is assisting a commercial enterprise. Books, calendars, posters and other memorabilia must rake in funds for the Banksy brand. The air of mystery, or should we call it deceit, is promoted by the BBC, giving this artist his own pages on their licence-payer funded website, as well as plenty of news and local news coverage.