For the good of progressivism, the fearless girl statue needs to go. If that sentence makes your blood boil, stick with me. I will change reasonable minds. The fearless girl statue is nothing more than an attempt to rebrand capitalism by the ad agency McCann and Wall Street itself. Towards this end, they provide the best and most visible example to date of corporatist hijacking of populist agendas. And, against it all, one man’s artistic integrity is at stake, in ways that I promise are going to surprise you.
Let’s be clear about something right off the bat. In a court of law, Di Modica has an open and shut victory, not under copyright law, but under the federal Visual Artists’ Rights Act. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
First, we visit the history of the bull statue: most importantly, its true meaning and message. Then we explore the fearless girl statue’s, as well as its effect on the bull’s. Only then do we turn to the law. By then, you will understand why this is an open and shut case in a court of law.
Di Modica is an Italian immigrant, and an artist. Right away, this should raise the alarm for progressives. This is the type of guy we are predisposed to liking. Unless you harbor some sort of anti-European or anti-White bias, but of course there is no room for any biases in progressive movements. Besides, we Italians may be white, but we’re our own tribe, in the U.S. as well as Europe, like the Greeks, Jews, and Irish. Indeed, it is hard to call any of those four groups “white.”
Anyway. He created and installed his statue in the wake of a financial crisis. Since its inception, the bull has been ironic. Di Modica is clearly not a member of the financial services sector. Indeed, he is the type of man you would expect to oppose the crony capitalism of today. A “bull” market is a one that is performing, and the fucking statue was installed at a time of crisis. That big ball sack everyone likes to ridicule? Yeah, well, it’s meant to ridicule: all the limp-dicked bastards on Wall Street who think they have balls of steel and who can only get hard by screwing the poor and middle classes out of their hard-earned dollars.
THIS IS THE STATUE’S TRUE MEANING AND SIGNIFICANCE. IT’S IRONIC, PEOPLE.
Of course, the irony is lost on the unthinking legions. Let’s face it, progressives. We have our unthinking legions no less than the right.
THE FEARLESS GIRL
So now we get to the fearless girl statue. Created by an ad agency. Installed on the same fucking day a new fund with initials SHE starts trading on the Nasdaq. Every advertisement for the statue, the word “she” appears as “SHE.” SHE is not the little girl; SHE is the fund. But there’s nothing to see here, folks. No, blame the immigrant.
The hypocrisy of this makes me want to puke. I am a progressive, and an Italian-American with close ties to the motherland. My fellows love to rant about how the right tricks people into blaming immigrants. Well, guess what. The neo-liberals do too, and you’re probably one of the suckers.
I am usually not this confrontational with my audience. But sorry I’m not sorry. I know most of you reading this probably unknowingly furthered this hypocrisy in one form or another. And I bet some of you even talked shit about Italians in the process. I’ve already heard it.
Be that as it may. The fearless girl statue is complete and utter bullshit. Yeah, it has a positive feminist message. But it’s just stupid “lean in” third-wave feminism: vague pro-women sentiment.
So let’s turn to that message. The woman who headed the project for McCann basically admitted that the fearless girl statue’s meaning is dependent upon its placement in relation to the bull. She says: “She’s not angry at the bull — she’s confident, she knows what she’s capable of, and she’s wanting the bull to take note.” In other words, the girl’s message depends on the bull, and, without the latter, the former has different meaning. This is where we get to the law.
There are a group of rights similar to copyright known as “moral rights” or “reputation rights.” The first thing to be said about them is that Europe provides them with much more protection. For instance, the EU provides these protections to all types of artists, whereas the US only provides it to visual ones.
Yet, we’re talking sculptures, so VARA is in play. What the law does is protect the artist’s reputation by protecting the message in his or her work.
You see why this is an open and shut case under VARA? The bull, by itself, is ironic. It does not matter that the artist simply dropped it there without permission. The city adopted it, and that’s all that matters. The bull is there with permission, and, on its own, it is an ironic work.
But the fearless girl changes the message and destroys the irony. Now, we have two characters on the scene: one the symbol of a “good” market—patriarchic as fuck, with its big ol’ nuts—and one the girl “leaning in,” saying “Hey! I’m not afraid of you! I can be a good capitalist same as anyone else!”
It does not matter if we agree on the exact message sent. All that matters is that the bull’s message changes from an ironic one to a two-person act about the virtues of modern capitalism.
NO CORPORATIST HIJACKING
To be honest, I bet Di Modica already got what he wanted. He wanted the world to know he had nothing to do with the bastardization of his work. Dude is like sixty, living well. You think he cares what SJWs say on the internet? He cares about his work, and his reputation.
Well, you know what? So do I. I care about artists’ reputation rights. I care about the anti-crony capitalism message in the bull. I care about my fellow Italian, and our shared heritage. I care about making sure that the corporatist pigs do not hijack populist agendas.
So please, fellow progressives. Let’s use this as a learning opportunity. Sometimes, the most blatantly progressive outcome is not the actual progressive one.
Featured image by Anthony Quintano via Flickr.