Banksy’s Hollywood Hype

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Filed under: Publicity Stunts

Posted by Sasha Stone on, February 16, 2011:

Down the Rabbit Hole with Banksy and Mr. Brainwash

When the dust settles of Oscars 2010, which is mercifully in eleven long days, what will remain the most interesting thing about the season isn”™t that Roger Deakins might win his first Oscar, and it isn”™t the final Toy Story movie finally winning an Oscar, and it isn”™t Helena Bonham Carter finally winning an Oscar, or Colin Firth finally winning an Oscar, or The Social Network being shut out of the Oscars (be ready), it”™s Banksy. Banksy has crashed the Oscars with what is the most hilarious Oscar prank ever pulled.

I have at last found my relief in Banksy”™s participation in the big show. Why? Because he”™s nominated for a prankumentary. This has to be a first for Oscar, right? And it”™s so clever, no one can yet prove that it isn”™t real. But I”™m fairly sure, after a couple of viewings, it isn”™t real. And it”™s a glorious sham.

As if to punctuate the silliness of this, Banksy himself has landed here in Los Angeles and is spraying the city with his essence. These photos, as with all of his work, [are] being memed all over the internet. Sure, it”™s possible that Oscar strategists are pretending to be actual people spreading the Banksy word, but it”™s working.

At a moment when the air has sucked out of the room entirely, here comes Banksy to give us a laugh.

I went down the rabbit hole on this whole Banksy thing. And it seems almost impossible to me that people don”™t know that it isn”™t a real doc. Either they”™re in on the joke or they”™re being completely fooled. It isn”™t that Thierry Guetta isn”™t real. He”™s absolutely real. You can find the record of his having registered the domain name artshow2008 here. Mr. Brainwash is a creation, though, a false god as it were. Probably this is Banksy”™s doing, or else it”™s a collaboration of people. But either way? Point made.

The internet is way onto the thing, of course, with articles popping up in the New York Times, and Fast Company. Some people are cynical about it, thinking Banksy is marketing himself with this film, which he financed on his own. But this film is a stroke of genius, and nominating it for an Oscar is one of the coolest things the AMPAS has ever done. Just to say.

Banksy lampoons the concept of profitable street art (defeats its own purpose in a way) but what he”™s really doing is spoofing his own empire, the Banksy brand. It became synonymous with Brad and Angelina, Jude Law and who knows who else. It became Big Art, million dollar property. Somehow he uses Mr. Brainwash to point a critical finger at himself. And those of us who buy into the idea that this is cool, and we should spend a lot of money on it.

So, Exit to the Gift Shop gets my vote for the best thing about the Oscars this year. Even if he can”™t go to the actual ceremony. If, by some miracle the Social Network wins Best Picture (which it will not) I will have to forsake Banksy. But for now, dude owns my ever-lasting admiration.

… Of course, this is both Oscar campaigning as well as perpetuating the grand hoax.

More Banksy links here.