Don’t let a meme get you

In response to [David Lynch’s July 16] letter [“New Mural at Orbit DVD is Offensive”], we interpret art with our own issues and desires. I look at an orchid, and all I see is a beautiful exotic flower. Many people see a vagina, but I am gay, and I never think of vagina.

Take for example Bryan Fischer, a radio host on American Family Radio. He is obsessed with homosexuality. Mr. Fischer’s rant during Gay Pride Month was that Burger King was selling a “Pride Whopper” in San Francisco. He said that “when people sit down to eat a hamburger, the last thing they want to be thinking about is two guys having sex.” As a gay man, who has gay sex, trust me — the last thing I think about while eating a burger (OR a hotdog), is gay sex.

Beauty — or rather misogyny — is in the eye of the beholder. We obviously have a lot of West Asheville residents with the desire to be offended. They are letting a meme — a MEME, created by who knows who — dictate how they appreciate art and patronize a business. It is not like it is a respected work from William Shakespeare or by Faulkner. [The sloth] is an obscure Internet meme. It is fluff.

Perhaps those people find that misogynistic imagery in the mural because they have issues with it. In the mural, I saw obsession with watching TV — that much of our lives are spent in sloth staring at a TV set. I did not see any reference to rape.

So I have a question: I show you an orchid, what do you see? I got a $20 bill that says it is a vagina.

Chuck Giezentanner

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6 thoughts on “Don’t let a meme get you

  1. boatrocker

    Maybe this is the difference between Mtn X and Ashevegas. Ashevegas’ comments section mainly laughed at anyone who would choose such a random thing to be offended over. I wonder why everyone focuses on a female and a sloth vs. a television- artwork depicting television offends me, not animals in nature or the female form.

    • If the rape sloth meme was random or obscure, then I agree that it wouldn’t be worth taking offense, because so few people would understand its covert meaning.

      But simply because you are unaware of the symbology of the sloth personally doesn’t mean it is random. 30 seconds of online research will demonstrate that there are over 6,000 of these rape sloth memes which have been shared online by millions of people.

      And again, most artists are quite deliberate about what they include in their work. The mural artist could have chosen millions of different objects to include in his design. So why a sloth?

      • boatrocker

        Why a television then? For all the allusions to it in the artwork, why are you ok with a device that spreads misinformation, distortions, ear and hate? I’m sure more people watch TV than waste their time with memes. TV has also raped more young impressionable minds than a meme ever has, bu please for the PC crowd don’t address any of these valid points.

        I file this whole diatribe under thin skinned types. If the woman were dressed in Victorian era garb, I’m sure there would be a letter here next week decrying stereotypical traditional women’s roles in Western culture. If the woman were in a kitchen, holding a baby, cooking, answering a phone there would be comments of “misogyny!”, though women do that all the time, and not just on an episode of Madmen.

        Being a student of art means nothing in this discussion, as it’s on private property and nobody is charging $ to view it. Would you actually tell me this mural is worse than the trainhopping gutterpunk stuff in any back alley commissioned to cover up that, well, trainhopping gutterpunk stuff? Please.

        Just for the record, Adorn boutique runs an ad in this very paper that features a ditzy looking Betty Boop clone whose shoulder strap is “oopsie!” falling off her shoulder and painting her to be some sort of hyper-sexualized sex kitten, therefore I would call for a boycott of MTn X. Man’s Ruin Tattoos (whose ads have run the MTn X before) features Rosie the Riveter, a militaristic, jingoistic warhawk of a symbol to lure young women into the factories to produce the machinery of war (and the original art has been viewed a helluva lot more than a meme).

        But heck, mount up on Rocinante and charge those obscure windmills without giving type same attention to images that confront you on your very computer screen or in print published by the same magazine you choose to draw attention to a mural.

  2. bsummers

    I show you an orchid, what do you see? I got a $20 bill that says it is a vagina.

    Thanks for teeing that up. After Georgia O’Keefe firmly linked the image of the orchid with the female anatomy in our minds – yes. Now I do. Before I started studying art, it was just an orchid.

    Orchid = Vagina. Georgia O’Keefe, pre-internet meme artist.

    Thanks for accidentally supporting David’s argument.

    • bsummers

      And one other thing:

      They say that one night Picasso was at a party, and a man was saying to him, “They tell me your stuff is good, but I just don’t get abstract art. But if you want to see something beautiful here’s a picture of my girlfriend.” He took a photo out his wallet, & Picasso looked at it & said, “She’s pretty – but she’s quite small, isn’t she?”

      Meaning, that type of visual abstraction, a miniature photograph, was one that we as human beings have come to recognize without thinking about it. But it wasn’t always so.

      Just because you don’t see anything offensive in this mural, whether it’s the creepy sloth-meme or the juvenile sexual objectification of women, doesn’t mean that others don’t have legitimate grounds for their reaction.

  3. As bsummers pointed out, I also appreciate that Mr. Giezentanner cited the work of artist Georgia O’Keefe to bolster my stance and demonstrate how powerful artistic memes have been throughout history.

    In the case of the Orbit mural, I wish Mr. Giezentanner was correct in asserting that the rape sloth meme is obscure. Sadly, hundreds of thousands of people have shared the rape sloth meme online. The most popular image was shared over 450,000 times. I wish for our society’s sake that this disturbing meme was a lot less popular than it is. The rape sloth is a lot of things, but it’s hardly obscure.

    Many local artists have spoken out in defense of the Orbit mural, but I can’t help but notice that the person most conspicuously silent is the mural artist himself. Why, out of the infinite selection of elements he could have included on the mural, did he choose a sloth? Why are the girl and the sloth juxtaposed face to face?

    Artists rarely choose their subject matter at random. This artist could put this entire controversy to rest by explaining what influences he drew upon when he created the Orbit mural.

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