Wednesday, March 9, 2011

MELROSEandFAIRFAX Scandal: Fact or Fiction?

Some people have been implying that we are spreading rumor as fact.

We resent the implication.

We reported last week that Banksy's supposed billboard takeover might not have been a brazen act of illegal street art at all, but was a pre-arranged 'thank you' to the person who financed Exit Through The Gift Shop.

Then, yesterday LA Weekly posted that the spokesperson for The Light Group, the company that owned the billboard, says that "the notion that the company actually put Banksy up to tagging its billboard is 'just not true.'" They feel that it is 'just a rumor', and that sentiment has been echoed on our blog.

Maybe we are just jaded, but we believe a spokesperson's job is to protect the image of the company, not necessarily tell the truth. In fact, from the White House Press Secretary on down, it seems like the only time a spokesperson does tell the truth is when they are no longer working for the company, and they no longer have to toe the company line.

Furthermore, the quote that the LA Weekly printed from the spokesperson seems to be purposefully vague. It is not a direct quote, but a summary description written by the Weekly with only sound bites in quotation marks. Its sketchy.

On the other hand, the source of our story is an assistant moderator on the Banksy Forums, and he states that he was told this information from two separate sources before going public with the story. Unlike the company, he has nothing to gain from voicing this information, either positive or negative. And in our opinion, someone who has nothing to gain is always a better source for truth than someone who is paid to protect a certain interest.

And, to be more specific, from what we understand, it was an owner of The Light Group who financed Exit Through the Gift Shop, not the company itself. So maybe the company didn't put Banksy up to do the billboard, but maybe the individual did.

It seems the best way to verify the truth of whether or not Bankys' billboard was an 'inside job' is by looking into the financing of Exit Through the Gift Shop, not contacting the company spokesperson.

As with everything in life, there are 3 sides to every story -mine, yours and the truth. We are not putting out rumors as fact. People are free to choose what to believe.

If some people want to choose to believe that it is a random coincidence that Banksy's art work shows up on the same property as the person who financed his film, that is your choice to make. And if those same people think that it is another random coincidence that Banksy's 'This Looks a Bit Like An Elephant' just happened to show up on the side of a accused eyesore that was in the middle of a heated battle with a local neighborhood association also by random chance, that is also your choice to make. But we think that where there is smoke, there is usually fire. And where it stinks bad, there is probably some shit around. We are putting the story out there and letting the readers of MELROSEandFAIRFAX make up their minds.

We would love if some true investigative reporting was done into the financing, and that should answer all questions. (we are an unpaid blog, aren't you guys on salary over at the Weekly? does anybody do investigative journalism anymore or is the news nowadays just a "he-said"/"she-said" thing?).

We think it would be the ultimate irony if the owner of the Light House Group/Investor in Exit Through The Gift Shop were identified, and his wife was a member of the Pacific Palisades Residents Association, and the whole thing was just a scheme.


  1. My suspicion is Banksy wouldn't really be interested in something that was entirely "set up," but I do suspect the billboard was something like the Simpsons intro: he was probably told, "Hey, you can mark up our billboard," but what was done (which was not flattering to the billboard advertisers) was completely up to Banksy, and, like the Simpsons intro, resulted in something that didn't exactly paint the benefactor in the best light -- and I'm totally cool with that, keep it punk. I personally picture Banksy with his iPod on, listening to Elvis Costello's Radio Radio as he spray-painted that unflattering Mickey Mouse on the billboard: "I wanna bite the hand that feeds me, I wanna bite that hand so badly, I wanna make them wish they'd never seen me...."

    As for the elephant, that seemed like just a light, cute diversion. If someone alerted him to it as a potential paint subject that might eventually be removed anyway, big deal. No harm, no foul, and I'm sure the homeless guy who was living in it will get some help from some good caring soul in that community, there are many of them. And it certainly wasn't malicious on Banksy's part to get the guy's living space moved if he was living there -- I'm sure there was nothing malicious on Banksy's part.

    All in all, I see no harm, no foul for Banksy in any of this. Rock on, my brother...

  2. I also don't think that the billboard was a set-up job. From what I understand, the location of the billboard was in view of the offices of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which hosts the Oscars. Maybe it was a message directed towards them? Maybe it was his way of acknowledging the Academy for his nomination?

    Also, if this was a gift, why take it down so early and replace it with the same billboard ad? If I had a billboard ad, and Banksy tagged it, I would leave that shit up for all the world to see, especially if it was a gift or a set-up.

    As for my last point, the Light Group has intentions to put this out on display in Vegas for the public, and it's not going to be in some private collection of some guy--at least for now. Again, if this was a gift, why not just take it and put it away or sell it and get the money back that was used to finance the film?

    I do agree that there should be more investigative reporting behind this story. Early on, I read that Banksy financed this film himself.

  3. Some guy on a forum, despite being a moderator and saying he heard it from two people is still a rumor no matter how you slice it.

    The moderator of the Banksy Forum does have something to gain by spreading rumor, even if it is only ego based.

    Has anyone even produced actual evidence that the owner of the Light Group is actually a financer of Exit Through the Gift Shop?

    So clearly this is an unsubstantiated rumor at this point. The way that you mentioned it in the Elephant post sure was framed as a statement of fact, and not just re-mentioning a rumor.

    The original post on the Banksy forum appears to have been removed, BTW. Likely because they realized it was an unsubstantiated rumor.

  4. Don't get caught up in all this bullshit. It's not your mission, not your passion, and it's deterring you from what you do best: Illuminate poor saps like me to a whole world of art that is accessible to us every day.

    You have a WONDERFUL website and questions about your integrity should be buried under the dozens of articles you've posted showing where your intentions really lie.

    Go forth with confidence.

  5. I think it's the way that you phrase things. It does sound like you're stating things as fact a lot of the time. When you read further down, you realize that it's rumored stories, but stating that it's a rumor right off the bat might be key. Just a word of advice.

    I read your blog regularly and enjoy it, but I do get frustrated with the way that you write sometimes.